Children in Rural Poverty: Risk and Protective Mechanisms (Family Life Project)

Duration: 2002 - 2011
Funding: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
Principal Investigator: Lynne Vernon-Feagans
Principal Investigator: Nan Crouter
Principal Investigator: Martha Cox
Principal Investigator: Mark T. Greenberg
Partners: University of North Carolina

Family Life Project logo


The purpose of this program project is to study the early development of a group of children who are at risk for later successful adjustment and for whom we have little information: children living in rural, largely poor communities. A birth cohort of 800 children in three rural counties of North Carolina and 600 children in three rural counties of Pennsylvania will be studied. A multidisciplinary team will investigate multiple levels of influences affecting the early development of these children. The research emphases of the component research projects include the following: 

  • Project I: Temperament: Emphasizes the development of child-related factors and how they predict preschool social-emotional and cognitive competence. 
  • Project II: School Readiness: Emphasizes the pathways to and precursors of school readiness. 
  • Project III: Family Process: Emphasizes how family processes mediate or moderate the effects of rural poverty on children. 
  • Project IV: Work and Family: Emphasizes the impact of parents' occupational conditions on parenting, and, in turn, children's social, cognitive, emotional and linguistic development. 
  • Project V: Ethnography: Emphasizes 1) an in-depth contextual appraisal of community characteristics and 2) a family ethnography with 72 families developmentally ahead of the cohort above to provide input to design and measurement.

Families were visited in their homes and completed surveys, cognitive testing, observational assessments, and provided saliva samples for biological assays and DNA.

Project Team