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Rural Schools and Health – Models and Innovations

These stories feature model programs and successful rural projects that can serve as a source of ideas and provide lessons others have learned. Some of the projects or programs may no longer be active. Read about the criteria and evidence-base for programs included.

Evidence-Based Examples

Helping Kids PROSPER
Updated/reviewed June 2019
  • Need: An approach to support sustained, quality delivery of evidence-based programs for youth and families in rural communities.
  • Intervention: PROSPER, a program delivery system, guides communities in implementing evidence-based programs that build youth competencies, improve family functioning, and prevent risky behaviors, particularly substance use.
  • Results: Youth in PROSPER communities reported delayed initiation of a variety of substances, lower levels of other behavioral problems, and improvements in family functioning and other life skills.

Promising Examples

funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Noble County Outreach Project
Updated/reviewed October 2021
  • Need: To help enroll and retain children and their families in health insurance in Noble County, Indiana.
  • Intervention: A school-based health insurance outreach project focused on connecting children to health insurance.
  • Results: More than 600 individuals enrolled in health insurance.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Healthy Early Learning Project (HELP)
Updated/reviewed September 2021
  • Need: An ongoing health need to alleviate early childhood obesity in the rural Kansas counties of Marshall and Nemaha.
  • Intervention: 5 distinct physical and nutritional programs were introduced to 9 preschool sites through the overarching Healthy Early Learning Project (HELP).
  • Results: HELP comprehensively increased children's physical activity and healthy food consumption and established a sustainable presence at each preschool site.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Schools That Care
Updated/reviewed September 2021
  • Need: To provide mental health services to rural Kansas students and their families.
  • Intervention: The Schools That Care project provides mental health treatment and case management as well as community education events.
  • Results: From 2018 to 2021, 3,456 individuals participated in health education and counseling activities offered to the public, and 964 individuals and 303 families received direct services through the Family Advocate.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy School-Based Health Center Dental Outreach
Updated/reviewed July 2020
  • Need: To improve the oral health status of children ages 3 to 17 living in underserved rural areas of Louisiana.
  • Intervention: School-based nurse practitioners perform oral health assessments, apply fluoride varnishes when indicated, and make dental referrals, with completion rates of the latter tracked by dental case managers.
  • Results: Significant numbers of school children are receiving oral health examinations, fluoride varnish applications, and receiving care coordination to improve numbers of completed dental appointments.
Munson Healthcare Charlevoix Hospital School Nurse Program
Updated/reviewed April 2019
  • Need: School nurses to assess and care for students in rural Michigan schools who have limited access to healthcare.
  • Intervention: Munson Healthcare Charlevoix, a CAH in Northern Michigan, created the School Nurse Program to provide medical care and education to students, school staff, and families.
  • Results: The School Nurse Program brings healthcare to over 3,400 students in 8 schools every year and chronic absenteeism in participating schools has dramatically decreased.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy From CATCH to C.H.E.F.
Updated/reviewed January 2019
  • Need: To help children and families in Lincoln, rural Benton, and east Linn counties achieve higher-quality lives free of preventable diseases related to poor nutrition and obesity.
  • Intervention: Two programs were applied on a local level to provide physical activity, nutrition, and culinary education in a school and community setting.
  • Results: The physical activity rate surpassed the Department of Health and Human Services recommended rate by 5%, and schools started serving healthier options in their cafeterias.

Other Project Examples

South Dakota Harvest of the Month Program
Updated/reviewed May 2021
  • Need: To encourage children to make healthy eating choices through learning and tasting.
  • Intervention: Brief, fun, and informative presentations and tastings for children on over 42 different fruits and vegetables.
  • Results: Participants are exposed to new foods and show more interest in healthy eating.
Hands of Hope In-School Prevention Program
Updated/reviewed April 2021
  • Need: To reduce and prevent abuse and violence in rural Grant County, Indiana.
  • Intervention: A prevention program uses age-appropriate materials to teach children from Head Start through high school about topics like healthy relationships and nonviolent ways to deal with anger.
  • Results: Surveys show that teachers appreciate the presentations and that students learn more about these topics, strategies they can use in violent situations, and available resources.
Schools as a Hub for Health
Updated/reviewed April 2021
  • Need: To improve health outcomes in rural Appalachian Ohio.
  • Intervention: Schools as a Hub for Health promotes holistic wellness for the whole community by creating or bringing in programs that support physical, mental, and social health.
  • Results: The project has gained administrator buy-in and was featured in a December 2016 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps webinar.

Last Updated: 10/6/2021