- Associated Press - Saturday, September 26, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The federal government is tackling poverty in the southern reaches of the Mississippi Delta by focusing on the health of children and their parents’ work and education prospects.

The White House announced the approach Friday as part of a test of its Rural Integration Models for Parents and Children to Thrive, or Rural IMPACT. The effort aims to tackle problems facing two generations at once, and is an attempt to address poverty experienced by more than 6 million people in rural areas nationwide.

Friends of Children of Mississippi is one of 10 groups chosen nationwide by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which examined applications.

The group, based in Jackson, operates Head Start programs for three- and four-year-olds in a number of Mississippi counties, but also offers some efforts aimed at supporting parents. FCM will focus its efforts on Humphreys, Issaquena and Sharkey counties. No dollar value was given in the news release announcing the selection of FCM and others.

The two-generation approach being rolled out in the program has been an increasing focus of anti-poverty advocates. It aims to improve the employment and income of adults while improving education and well-being of their children.

The Rural IMPACT demonstration will help communities adopt a comprehensive, whole-family framework for addressing child poverty, helping services to locate in the same place, making intake services available in multiple places, and sharing measurement systems.

FCM will be supported by multiple agencies, including the Delta Regional Authority. The agency will get six months of help in planning, plus six months’ more assistance as it implements its program. The Corporation for National and Community Service will help place more AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers to bolster anti-poverty programs. The demonstration sites will share best practices.

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