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


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.

Project Team