Office of Child Welfare and Children's Mental Health
Improving Health Access in Frontier and Rural Counties
Principal Investigator: Megan S. O'Brien, PhD, MPH
Project Manager: Cheryl Holmes, MPA
Project Dates: Dec 2008 - ongoing
Defining Frontier and Rural
The way frontier and rural are defined is critical whether the work is
related to research, evaluation, program development, policy work, training,
outreach, or funding. Many definitions exist but only one is recommended by the
Kansas Rural and Frontier Subcommittee of the Kansas Governor's Mental Health
Services Planning Council. It is the Population Density Peer Group Continuum
that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment created by modifying the
Clifton Classification System. It provides definitions for five categories:
- Frontier is less than 6 people per square mile
- Rural is defined as 6-19.9 people per square mile
- Densely-settled rural is defined as 20-39.9 people per square mile
- Semi-urban is defined as 40-149.9 people per square mile
- Urban is defined as 150+ people per square mile
While other factors such as distance in miles and time in minutes to service areas are important considerations, this continuum provides a method for all counties to be categorized. In so doing, it provides a methodical way to take into consideration important factors that vary among the peer groups such as resource availability within the county, distance to resources outside of the county, availability of numbers and types of staff, cultural variations, and infrastructure, among others.
See the following links for Kansas and U.S. maps showing the breakout of counties across the continuum.
Kansas Map Based on 2010 Census Data
U.S. Map Based on 2007 Population Estimates
Frontier and Rural Specific Projects
With funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and United Methodist Health Ministry Fund Area Mental Health Center is currently conducting a frontier access project, with evaluation and research support provide by KU School of Social Welfare. See http://www.socwel.ku.edu/occ/viewProject.asp?ID=86
From 2008-2009, KU worked with community partners on the Improving Access to Children's Mental Health Through Inclusion of Frontier and Rural Voice: Integration of Mental Health and Primary Care project. With funding provided by United Methodist Health Ministry Fund, the project was designed to develop a culturally and geographically sensitive plan to increase access to children's mental health services in frontier and rural Kansas counties. The project culminated with a children's mental health summit held in Garden City, Kansas, in the fall of 2009.
In addition to KU, key partners on this project included Area Mental Health Center, Garden City; Center for Counseling and Consultation, Great Bend; St. Francis Community Services, Salina; Larned State Hospital, Larned; Tribune School System, Tribune; USD 395, La Crosse; Ellsworth County Medical Center, Ellsworth; and Morton County Hospital, Elkhart. Melissa Ness with Connections Unlimited provided the facilitation for this project.
Summit Participant Survey Results (Adobe file)
Final Report (Adobe file)
In 2007, KU staff partnered with the Rural and Frontier Subcommittee members
to complete a project and related report on Frontier and Rural Children's Mental
Health Services: Identification of Strengths and Challenges in Western Kansas.
Governor's Mental Health Services Planning Council – Rural and Frontier Subcommittee
For information about this subcommittee, please visit: http://csp.kdads.ks.gov/agency/mh/Pages/GMHSPC/subcommittees/ruralfrontier/GMHSPCRuralFrontierSubcommittee.aspx
Rural and Frontier Data
Policy makers, providers, funders, families, researchers, and other stakeholders utilize data for different reasons. The files below are designed to provide easy access to current information, arranged across the frontier through urban continuum. The goal is to help a wide variety of users tell their stories, supported through data.
PLEASE NOTE: In most cases, population and peer density groups have been updated based on 2010 Census data. However other data sources, such as provider numbers, may be older. Footnotes are available on each file to identify highlight this information.
Viewing Kansas Across the Population Density Peer Groups
Distribution of Kansas Counties by Population Density Peer Groups - east and west
Percent of Kansas Counties by Population Density Peer Groups
Background and Demographics Across the Population Density Peer Groups in
Population 17 Years and Under
Poverty Estimates for People Under 18
Under 65 Without Health Insurance
Population Change Over Time - Summary and by County
Social Service Provider Data
Number of Providers in Kansas Across Population Density Peer Groups
Number of Psychiatrist (M.D.) in Kansas Across Population Density Peer Groups
Average Number of Square Miles Covered by a Provider
Average Size of General Population Covered by One Provider