Keeping pace : understanding youth engagement in rural America through family structure lenses
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With rapid shifts in the family economy, various family structures have continually emerged. Understanding the impact these changes have on youth engagement is foundational to developing interventions that will encourage participation in community life. Factors including rural-urban migration, the great recession, lower fertility rates, marrying at older ages and influx of women into professional employment have contributed to the emergence of new and more complex family types such as single parent and blended families. Youth growing up in these evolving settings (changing family structures) are vested with uncommon challenges. With less than 46% of children born into intact families, understanding the impact these challenges have on the ability of youth to stay engaged in family and community life is foundational to the building of appropriate interventions. Poverty, low educational attainment and lack of employment opportunities, increase the likelihood of breakdown and inadvertently disturb the emotional equilibrium of the home environment. These factors increase the likelihood of breakdown within resource-limited rural communities placing them at a disadvantage compared to families resident in urban areas.
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