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United Way Community Assessment identifies poverty, health as serious issues in the Treasure Valley

For immediate release: May 25, 2017

Every three years United Way conducts research to identify local issues related to health, education, financial stability

BOISE, Idaho — More than half of high school seniors in Idaho reported having used e-cigarettes, while 20 percent of high school students in the state have seriously considered suicide, according to United Way of Treasure Valley’s new 2017 Community Assessment.

The assessment, conducted every three years, focuses on issues related to health, education and financial stability — the three building blocks of stable life for children, individuals and families across Ada, Canyon and Gem counties. 

Additional findings from the assessment show that nearly half of students entering kindergarten in Idaho are not ready to read, while more than 3,500 students in the Treasure Valley experienced homelessness during the 2015 school year.

United Way of Treasure Valley president and CEO Nora Carpenter presented key findings from the 2017 Community Assessment to the public on Thursday at the Nampa Public Library. The 64-page assessment includes in-depth findings as well as potential solutions to address prevalent issues.  

Solutions include the co-location of health and social services. For example, bringing together health, dental and nutrition service providers to convenient locations could help low-income children and families access such services. 

This could help alleviate challenges like transportation, Carpenter said. 

“We operate in a society built on solutions for the 20th century,” Carpenter said. “Together, let’s move into the 21st century and think about how policies, systems and environments can benefit children and families.”

The Community Assessment helps guide United Way’s fundraising, collaboration and advocacy efforts to ensure the organization is effectively addressing real, local problems, Carpenter said. 

“To fight for the health, education and financial stability of everyone in the Treasure Valley, we need to know what challenges and opportunities exist,” Carpenter said. “We conduct the Community Assessment to identify the biggest barriers to success for children, individuals and families, and align resources to create success.”

United Way’s first Community Assessment in 2011 identified suicide prevention as a serious need, which ultimately helped lead to the creation of the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline. 

A research advisory committee of local experts oversaw the creation of the Community Assessment. 

United Way collaborated with the Utah Foundation to collect key data through interviews, focus groups and surveys. Additional data was also collected from available sources, such as the Idaho State Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, among others. 

The Community Assessment was powered by Trinity Health’s Transforming Communities Initiative grant. 

United Way’s financial partners for the assessment include Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, Saint Alphonsus Medical Center – Nampa, St. Luke’s Health System, Delta Dental of Idaho and Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children.

The 2017 Community Assessment and an abbreviated executive summary are available on United Way of Treasure Valley’s website, unitedwaytv.org. 

For more information about the Community Assessment, call (208) 336-1070. 

Key Health Findings:

20 percent of high school students in Idaho have seriously considered suicide;

55.9 percent of high school seniors in Idaho have used e-cigarettes;

In the 2015 school year, 49,962 students in three Treasure Valley counties were eligible for free or reduced-priced school meals, up from 34,069 in 2008.

Key Education Findings:

About 51 percent of Idaho students entered kindergarten ready to read in 2016;

About 46 percent of graduating high school seniors in Idaho directly enroll in post-secondary education, down from 53 percent in 2011;

About 1 in 4 Treasure Valley third-graders are at-risk of reading problems; children who struggle to read at third grade are more likely to struggle throughout their school years and beyond. 

Key Financial Stability Findings:

More than 3,500 students in the Treasure Valley school districts experienced homelessness during the 2015 school year, up from approximately 1,000 in 2006;

As many as 1 in 5 low-income households in Idaho eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) do not file for it; the average EITC return was $2,341 in Idaho;

21 percent of Treasure Valley households are ‘unbanked,’ which means they do not have checking or savings accounts at any financial institution. 

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About United Way of Treasure Valley

United Way fights for the health, education and financial stability of everyone in the Treasure Valley. Through careful research, United Way identifies the biggest local needs. To meet those needs, United Way brings together people and organizations with the passion, expertise and resources necessary to improve our community. You can learn about our work at www.unitedwaytv.org. Follow United Way on Twitter: @UnitedWayTV and use #LiveUnited.

CONTACT:           

Daniel Mediate, communications manager

United Way of Treasure Valley

336-1070 x111