Recent Publications

COVID-19 Response: Resources for Small and Mid-Size Farms in Mississippi

Emily Broad Leib, Alex Ramsey, and Emma I. Scott of the Harvard Law School Food Law & Policy Clinic

The COVID-19 pandemic presents a number of new and difficult challenges for families, small business owners, and food producers across the country. This Issue Brief provides an overview of the resources... PDF Download

COVID‐19 Response: Feeding Mississippi Children During School Closure

Emily Broad Leib, Suzanne Donahue, and Emma Scott of the Harvard Law School Food Law & Policy Clinic

Across the country, states have needed to use school closures and remote learning as strategies for reducing the spread of COVID‐19. On April 14, 2020, Mississippi leaders announced that children... PDF Download

The Economic Impact of Potential Closures of Rural Hospitals in Mississippi

M. Maya McDoom, Ph.D., M.P.H., Cyril Chang, Ph.D., John Gnuschke, Ph.D., et al.

Rural hospitals across the nation are facing a crisis due to ever-changing economic, policy, and population factors. To better understand how the present economic climate and policies are impacting... PDF Download

Improving Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment in Juvenile Detention Facilities

Harvard Law School Mississippi Delta Project

Mental health and substance abuse treatment services are an essential component of a well-functioning rehabilitative juvenile justice system. These services are especially important in juvenile detention... PDF Download

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April 1st, 2016

Promoting Access to Condoms for Youth in Mississippi through Community Interventions

Harvard Law School Mississippi Delta Project

This report is written in collaboration with Mississippi First to assist them in their efforts to increase access to condoms for adolescents and young adults in Mississippi, with a particular focus on the Delta Region. Spurred by high rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections in the state, Mississippi First has long been working to empower Mississippi youth by giving them the knowledge and means to make informed decisions. In 2014, Mississippi First created the Mississippi Youth Council (“MYCouncil”) to “ensure that young people in Mississippi have a voice in the debate around their sexual and reproductive health, education, and rights.” The youth activists in MYCouncil work through a grassroots approach to support comprehensive sexuality education and access to sexual and reproductive health services for all young people. This report is part of their ongoing efforts to explore solutions around increasing youth access to reproductive health resources generally, focusing specifically on strategies to increase condom access for teens.

October 1st, 2014

An Analysis of Programs to Engage At-risk Juveniles for the Clarksdale Boys of Color Initiative

Harvard Law School Mississippi Delta Project

This report aims to assist the Clarksdale Boys of Color Initiative (CBCI) in the development and implementation of programs and strategies to serve at-risk youth in Clarksdale, Mississippi. While this report was created specifically to assist CBCI, this report also aspires to be helpful to programs that are doing similar work in different communities, specifically rural areas within the Mississippi Delta Region (“the Delta). The burgeoning problems facing young men from minority backgrounds are not unique to the Delta, and thus the solutions outlined in this report should be useful to communities around the country working to fight these problems.

April 1st, 2014

Implementing Positive Behavior Systems in Rural Schools

Harvard Law School Mississippi Delta Project

School discipline is a growing problem in Mississippi. As a state, Mississippi has some of the most extreme school discipline policies in the country. With limited resources, state public schools struggle with managing student behavior through appropriate consequences, often resorting to severe punishments like classroom exclusion (expulsion and suspension) and corporal punishment. However, these punishments very rarely lead to the behavioral results schools desire and school districts, such as Quitman County School District, are beginning to see a need for alternative disciplinary interventions in order to reach more positive behavioral results.

December 1st, 2012

Mississippi Kids Count: Child Abuse & Neglect in Mississippi  

Jeremy Bressman, Kevin Golembiewski, Abram Orlansky, and Crystal Redd

While the number of children subject to abuse or neglect has dropped over the past decade, it is undoubtedly the case that child abuse and neglect remains one of the most serious concerns for children in the United States. Nationwide, nearly 702,000 children (or 9.3 out of 1,000) were subject to some form of abuse in the Fiscal Year 2009, a drop from even the year before (10.3 victims per 1,000 children), and a significant drop from earlier recorded findings in 1995 (15 victims per 1,000). Still, the numbers remain alarmingly high, particularly given the dire consequences. A number of studies have noted that the impact of abuse and neglect can last an entire lifetime; it can include, among other things, physical health issues (such as damage to a child’s brain), psychological complications (such as cognitive delays, depression, and anxiety), behavioral consequences (such as increased likelihood of involvement in high-­‐risk behaviors and greater likelihood of juvenile crime and delinquency), and societal consequences (such as increased costs to maintain a robust child welfare system). In short, the victims of child abuse include not only the abused themselves, but society as a whole.

December 1st, 2012

Mississippi Kids Count: Financial Literacy Education in Mississippi

Terrance Garrett and Mark Holden

This report concerns child financial literacy education in Mississippi. Lack of financial literacy can be viewed as a root cause of many of the problems that individuals and families face in Mississippi, particularly in the state’s poor and rural areas, including the proliferation of both subprime mortgages and payday lending. As this report discusses, one of the best ways to develop financially literate and capable citizens is to educate children in the basics of personal finance. Individuals that lack basic financial knowledge and skills are at a disadvantage in navigating the modern economy and are vulnerable to being taken advantage of by predatory lending practices.

October 1st, 2010

Mississippi Kids Count: High School Graduation Rates

by Jared Fisher, Kevin Golembiewski, Abram Orlansky, and Jay Willis

Though national dropout rates have generally fallen over the past twenty years, almost 1.2 million students in the United States drop out of school each year, representing nearly one-third of high school students. At about 61%, Mississippi’s high school graduation rate falls slightly below the national figure, though school districts in the Mississippi Delta fare particularly poorly. Five of the ten districts with the highest four-year dropout rates in the state are located in Delta region counties: Leflore, Tallahatchie, Sunflower, Tunica, and Panola Counties.

May 1st, 2010

Mississippi Kids Count – Literacy

Alice Abrokwa, Eliza Presson, Eleanor Simon, and Sandra Ullman

It is indisputable that having literate and well-educated children is crucial to the future of both Mississippi and the nation as a whole. The National Institute for Literacy defines literacy as “all the activities involved in speaking, listening, reading, writing, and appreciating both spoken and written language.” It involves the ability of a person to interact with others, succeed in school, understand and solve problems presented to them, perform on the job and as a part of society, and achieve one’s goals for the future. Lack of basic literacy skills is associated with “academic failure, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, delinquency, unemployment, low productivity, and welfare dependence.” Literacy, therefore, encompasses a range of skills and abilities that highly impact one’s future and accordingly ought to be acquired, and ought to be acquired beginning at the earliest age possible. Mississippi, which is cited in many reports as having among the worst literacy rates in the country, must invest in the literacy of its children for the betterment of the entire community across a range of measures.

May 1st, 2010

Mississippi Kids Count – Early Childhood Education

Jared Fisher, Maggie Francis, Abram Orlansky, and Eleanor Simon

Early education is crucial to supporting healthy childhood development and to providing a strong foundation for future schooling and general success. Defined as education between birth and age eight, early childhood education is associated with a wide range of positive outcomes for both the child as well as the community as a whole. Scientific studies suggest that participation in high quality early education, which includes elements such as trained and skilled teachers, small class sizes, and frequent child interaction and participation, improves cognitive and social development among all, but especially among low-income children. Research shows that children develop ninety percent of their adult-size brains in the first five years of life and therefore the provision of abundant information, proper stimulation and sufficient encouragement are keys to future success.

The Delta Directions Mission

The Delta Directions Consortium is an interdisciplinary network of individuals, academic institutions, non-profit organizations, and foundations that work together to create positive social change in the Mississippi Delta Region by improving public health and promoting economic development. The Consortium is not an independent non-profit organization, but rather an alliance of partners committed to collaborative problem-solving.

Get Involved

Donations to support the work of Delta Directions can be made to the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi or the Center for Population Studies at the University of Mississippi. When making a gift, note that your donation benefits Delta Directions.

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