AMES, Iowa--A recent $100,000 grant will target rural and urban at-risk children and their families during a five-year program through Iowa State University Extension to Families. Funding for the grant comes from the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES) for its Children, Youth and Families at Risk (CYFAR) program.
The funding promotes Sustainable Communities Projects in Buena Vista and Black Hawk counties, in which programming will link local extension personnel, public school staff and community stakeholders. The funding makes possible a two-pronged program that includes both a family strengthening program and a school-based prevention program.
“Research shows the two programs complement one another and produce positive family and youth outcomes more effectively than either program used alone,” said Marilyn Bode, specialist with ISU Extension to Families. Projects in both counties target fifth- and sixth-grade youth and their parents and guardians.
Both counties will use the Strengthening Families Program For Parents and Youth 10-14 (SFP 10-14) with families. The school-based program in Black Hawk County is Life Skills Training; in Buena Vista County, some schools will use Life Skills Training and some will use Project Alert.
“Strengthening families is one of the top objectives for Extension. The SFP 10-14 program helps parents and caregivers learn effective discipline methods and nurturing skills that guide and support their children. It also gives youth a healthy orientation and an increased appreciation of their parents and caregivers, “ Bode said. “Strong families give back to society because they produce healthy, productive citizens.”
Past CYFAR grants have brought family strengthening projects to eight other Iowa communities including Council Bluffs, Davenport, Des Moines, Dubuque, Perry, Postville, Sioux City and Union County. A 2001-2006 New Communities Project brought funding of $719,000 to Davenport, Sioux City and Perry.
“We have been fortunate to partner with CSREES and local Iowa communities to offer intensive community programs for at-risk children and their families,” said Diana Broshar, a specialist with ISU Extension to Families. “These CYFAR projects promote building resiliency and protective factors in youth, families and communities.”
Iowa’s poverty rate is increasing, up from 7.8 percent in 2000 to 11.1 percent in 2004, placing more families at risk, Broshar said. Buena Vista County has an overall poverty rate of 10.5 percent, but the poverty rate for Hispanics is at 21.5 percent and the African American poverty rate is at 60.8 percent. Waterloo in Black Hawk County has a poverty rate 13.9 percent. The poverty rate for African Americans is 35.9 percent; Hispanics is 21.5 percent.
The Buena Vista project will work through five school districts in the county. In Waterloo the area served will be an inner city neighborhood served by Longfellow Elementary and Logan Middle School.
ISU Extension to Families is the outreach arm of the College of Human Sciences at Iowa State and works in partnership with many organizations to meet the needs of Iowans. Some 38 family field specialists serve local areas throughout Iowa in family life, nutrition and health, and resource management.