White House Rural Council launches “interagency, multigenerational” plan to combat increasing rural child poverty.
Last week, the White House announced Rural Impact, an initiative to address the issue of increasing rural child poverty. According to the White House Rural Council’s official site, Rural Impact is an interagency effort which will take a “multi-generational approach to how public and private resources are invested in rural families and communities.” It will focus on the three major areas of “innovation, awareness and investment” and will receive support from the President, Cabinet officials, universities, foundations, nonprofits and community groups. The initiative will capitalize on present ongoing Administration efforts to address issues faced by children and families, particularly those in rural areas. The initiative aims to draw much-needed attention towards rural poverty, as too often, the focus on urban poverty public has dominated public policy.
The initiative is not without challenges, chief among them, the lack of funding and short-term results. Yet the significance of the plan — in driving national policy, the direction of the upcoming 2016 elections, and what it means for rural communities — cannot be dismissed. According to the Washington Post:
One of the biggest goals of the plan, though, is simply to put rural poverty back on the public’s radar screen — especially as candidates start barnstorming the country with their agendas for election 2016. This spring, the White House plans to send cabinet secretaries on “rural impact” tours in places where problems of intergenerational poverty run deep, and it will release a report in May detailing rural poverty’s causes, effects and solutions.
[Secretary of Agriculture Tom] Vilsack hopes that will be enough to shift the conversation away from what are usually thought of as “rural issues” in political campaigns. He expressed frustration at the narrow range of topics discussed at the Iowa Agriculture Summit a few months ago, where prospective Republican candidates were mostly asked to explain their stances on ethanol and crop subsidies rather than those on revitalizing the rural economy in other ways.
“Invariably, people have extensive urban plans. And they have maybe an agricultural plan. But they don’t have a rural plan,” Vilsack says. “So we could have the same conversation we always have, and that would be terribly unfortunate for rural families, and would not address this issue, which is why we’re raising it.”
The White House Rural Council has outlined the initiative and its objectives on its official site.
The White House Rural Council | Opportunity for All: White House Rural Council Launches “Rural Impact” Effort to Help Rural Children and Families Succeed