A total of eleven rural counties from across the nation have been selected to receive assistance from a Roadmaps to Health Community Coach, as a part of a program that will support their efforts to reduce the number of rural children and families in their county that live in poverty. The selected counties include: Dorchester, MD; Gila, AZ; St. Mary’s Parish, LA; Lancaster, SC; Beaver, PA; Herkimer, NY; Siskiyou, CA; Knox, OH; Livingston, NY; Yuma, AZ; and Yakima, WA.
Stemming from the jarring statistic that a full 85 percent of our country’s persistent poverty counties are located in rural America, the Rural Impact County Challenge (RICC) is a national initiative that aims to advance county efforts to combat rural child poverty. The challenge is a call to action for counties to develop or refine an operable plan that, through strong county leadership, commitment and vision, will achieve local and state level impacts on behalf of rural children and families. As part of RICC, NACo has partnered with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundations’ County Health Rankings & Roadmaps Program and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute to offer community coaching to its member counties that are participants of RICC.
Applications for the program opened in August of 2017. Applicant counties had population sizes that ranged from 250,000 to as low as 32,000, and identified the need to target common issues that arise from both poverty and rurality such as economic opportunity, housing, healthcare, and substance abuse. Selections were made on the basis of team make-up and collaborative history, explicit coaching needs and expectations, and overall goals.
The one year coaching program is set to begin in January of 2018, and aims to help communities work more effectively to identify problems and opportunities, and develop strategies to address them. The teams are comprised of four to seven core members that are representative of a larger partnership between diverse county sectors and elected officials. As a part of the program, teams will receive tailored guidance from their coaches, a site visit, and regular engagement via webinars and video discussions throughout the 2018 calendar year.
In the past year, the 2017 RICC Community Coaching Cohort has made great strides in creating strategies to address childhood and intergenerational poverty, connecting services and resources, engaging disconnected youth, and developing a 2-generational approach to addressing the needs of both children and families living in their communities.
The 2018 cohort can look forward to their first meeting with their coaches in the coming days, and an orientation with the County Health Ranking & Roadmaps Health Action Center in January. Highlights from both the 2017 and 2018 cohort counties will be made available via NACo media channels throughout the next year.
Community Coaching is part of the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program, a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. For more information about RICC Community Coaching please visit http://www.naco.org/resources/programs-and-services/rural-impact-county-challenge-community-coaching.