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.
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.
Updated/reviewed October 2020
- 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.
Updated/reviewed August 2020
- 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.
Updated/reviewed August 2020
- 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: In three years, 545 people received services through the school social worker, and 3,227 people participated in community events.
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.
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.
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
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.
Updated/reviewed March 2021
- Need: To reduce youth suicide rates.
- Intervention: Hope Squad is a nationwide program that trains youth to look after their classmates and refer those with suicidal thoughts or other mental health concerns to adult advisors.
- Results: Studies suggest that Hope Squad schools' students with suicidal thoughts are more likely than non-Hope Squad schools' students to solicit help and that stigma surrounding mental illness is decreasing.
Updated/reviewed February 2021
- Need: To decrease illicit drug and alcohol use in the Central Appalachian region of Kentucky, where many schools had no type of prevention curriculum.
- Intervention: Using engaging simulations and presentations, the project delivers substance use prevention education to middle school and high school students.
- Results: Post-test surveys show that thousands of students are reached through the "On the Move!" project and gain positive knowledge on the dangers of substance use.
Last Updated: 4/5/2021