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an image to show a rural american family


Photo: Mariano Friginal / Save the Children

Poverty is persistent in rural America — especially for children. As isolation increases and support falls, rural kids — particularly in the South, along the Border and in Appalachia — are struggling to thrive.

Explore Rural Child Well-being Dashboards

Key Facts

  • In 39 states, kids in rural communities are more likely to grow up in poverty, than non-rural children. In 6 of those states, at least 30% of rural children live in poverty.
  • Rural families are nearly 20% more likely to receive public assistance than non-rural families. Nationwide, almost 3 in 10 ­receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), public assistance income or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
  • More likely to face food insecurity, 43% of rural children are eligible for free and reduced-price meals.
  • 20% of rural adults have a bachelor’s degree as compared to 34% of non-rural adults.
  • Each child in rural America lives within a 10 mile drive distance of only 0.04 childcare centers.
  • Over 1 in 20 households don’t have access to a private vehicle in rural America — where resources are distant, homes are scattered and public transportation is lacking.
  • Children in rural communities are nearly 25% more likely to live with a disability. In certain states — like New York, Virginia and Illinois — it’s as high as 50%.
  • Rural households are more vulnerable to natural disasters.
  • Rural families face higher energy burdens — which means more income goes toward fueling their homes.
  • Kids near the U.S.-Mexico border, in Appalachia and across the rural South experience higher rates of poverty, have fewer opportunities and are more socially vulnerable than rural children in other parts of the country.

Explore the lives of rural America’s children and families with Save the Children’s Rural Child Well-being Dashboards. We tell their story from many angles, translating complex data into clear, visual insights.

See how well-being in your state compares to the nation, or investigate specific indicators like poverty, food security, vehicle access and opportunity.

Explore by indicator:

Explore by state:

United States Map Shaded to Indicate Rural Areas According to HRSA FORHP Definition



an image to show a heatmap of America coloured by poverty

Rural America's Story

These dashboards tell a story of struggle. In the past 20 years, nearly one-third of non-metropolitan counties have lost both manufacturing and service sector jobs. De-industrialization, out-migration, the opioid crisis and chronic under-investments have created decades of resource gaps — threatening the future of rural America’s children.

But it’s also a story of survival. The data proves that community connections are still strong in rural America. In addition, in some states — like Wyoming, North Dakota and Connecticut — rural kids are among the least likely in the nation to be receiving public assistance.

The Data

Save the Children’s Rural Child Well-being Dashboards showcase public data from a variety of sources, like the U.S. Census and federal offices that deliver some of America’s largest support programs. You’ll find a list of sources within each dashboard.

Learn more

The Rural Definition

Our dashboards use one of the federal government’s most inclusive definitions of “rural”, provided by the Health Resources & Services Administration Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (HRSA FORHP). The HRSA divides the nation’s largest counties into rural and non-rural zones, looking at smaller areas to explore each community’s population density, urbanization and commute patterns. This definition classifies more rural children as living in poverty than almost any other.

To learn more, check out the resources below: