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Mifflin Juniata Human Services Needs Assessment

Mifflin Juniata Human Services Needs Assessment


Lewistown Hospital
Mifflin/Juniata Human Services Department
Penn State Extension
United Way of Mifflin-Juniata

Read The Full Assessment Here


Juniata County School District operates two high schools, one junior high school, and eight elementary schools. The Juniata County School District provided public educational services to 3,016 students in 2011-2012.

The Mifflin County School District operates one high school (grades 10-12), one junior high school (grades 8-9), one middle school (grades 6-7), one intermediate school (grades 4-5), and five elementary schools (grades K-3). The schools provided public educational services to 5,410 students in 2011-2012.

Decreased enrollment rates in both counties reflect the state trend of younger families leaving Pennsylvania.

School District Enrollment2005-20062011-2012Percent Increase/Decrease
Juniata county3,1283,0164% decrease
Mifflin county6,1525,41012% decrease
Pennsylvania1,830,6841,765,3274% decrease
 Source: Pennsylvania Department of Education

District academic achievement ranking based upon PSSA

498 schools ranked 
scores432369(1= best 498= worst)
Source: Pennsylvania Department of Education 

Poverty Levels for Children

In Mifflin and Juniata counties the number of children living in poverty, and the number of children born to mothers with less than a high school education is significantly higher than the state average. That same research confirms that children who live with a mother who has not completed high school are less likely to receive cognitive stimulation and high quality child care during crucial development periods and are more likely to have diminished reading skills.

Children living in economically at-risk families75.9%85%58.4%
(up to 300% of poverty)

Births to mothers with less than a high school degree36.6%33.9%15.8%
Children in public funded early education programs29.5%31.4%36%
Source: Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning--Annual Report 2010-2011

School Preparedness

When children affected by risk factors, such as poverty or low maternal education, have access to quality early education before age five, they can often make up for such setbacks, enabling them to enter kindergarten on par with their peers. The benefits of quality early education to children and families reduce public expenses in special education.

Number of children birth to five1,5592,922729,538
Percent of children under five served in early education29.5%31.4%36%
Percent of 3rd graders scoring below proficient on the 2010 PSSA reading test20.4%23.8%22.1%
Source: Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning--Annual Report 2010-2011

Low Birth Weights

Babies born at low birth weight are at risk for serious health complications which can often result in the need for remediation once they reach school age. Visual and auditory impairments, learning disorders, behavioral problems, grade retention, and school failure have all been linked to low birth weight.

Percent low-weight births4.8%6.5%8.4%
Percent teen pregnancy (under 18)2.1%3.1%3.7%
Percent tobacco use during pregnancy21.1%18.1%21%
Percent born to mothers who receive little or on prenatal care23%26.6%16.7%
Source: Center for Rural PA

Dropout Rates

Dropout rates have a ripple effect on the local economy. Dropouts cost U.S. taxpayers between $320 billion and $350 billion a year in areas including but not limited to lost wages, taxable income, healthcare expenses, welfare, and incarceration costs. Dropouts are not eligible for 90% of the jobs in our economy.

Juniata CountyTotal Enrollment Dropouts-Dropouts-Dropouts-

Mifflin CountyTotal EnrollmentDropouts-Dropouts-Dropouts-
Source: Pennsylvania Department of Education


Emerging priorities around health issues is evident throughout the research in this assessment. It is also a key issue in the healthcare reform initiative that is now underway in the United States. According to Health People 2020, people with no health insurance are more likely to lack a usual source of medical care, such as a primary care physician, and are more likely to skip routine medical care due to costs, thus increasing their risk for serious and disabling health conditions.

Primary/Specialty Care Access

For acute health services, Lewistown Hospital serves both Mifflin and Juniata counties.

The majority of physicians in the area, for both primary and specialty care, are employed by two group practices: Family Health Associates and Geisinger Medical Group. Several specialty care physicians remain independent practitioners in the areas of OB/GYN, Oncology, Podiatry, Neurology, Pediatrics, and Surgery. In addition, University Orthopedics offers a comprehensive range of orthopedic care in Lewistown.

Clinical Health FactorsJuniataMifflinPANational

Ratio of primary care physicians to population3,294:11,277:111,067:1631:1
Ratio of mental health providers to population23,095:16,568:111,779:1N/A
Ratio of dentists to population6,060:13,325:1N/A1,976:1
Source: County Health Rankings and Roadmaps

Mental Health Access

Mental health plays a major role in people's ability to maintain good physical health. Mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety, affect people's ability to participate in health-promoting behaviors. In turn, problems with physical health, such as chronic diseases, can have a serious impact on mental health and decrease a person's ability to participate in treatment and recovery.

Dental Care Access

Oral disease is more prevalent in low income families. The PA department of health research shows that children in households with an annual income of less than $20,000 in Pennsylvania are three times more likely to have untreated dental cavities than children in households with an annual income of more than $100,000.

Chronic Disease

It became clear from the needs assessment, as well as the secondary data, that improving care for chronic disease is a priority. Heart disease, cancer, and stroke are the leading causes of death in both Mifflin and Juniata counties.

*Cause of Deaths (2008-2010)JuniataMifflinPA
Heart disease177.5206.2194.0
Chronic lower respiratory disease43.144.739.9
Source: PA Department of Health

Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Obesity

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, regular physical activity can improve the health and quality of life for all ages, regardless of disability. Among adults, physical activity can lower the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, breast and colon cancer, falls, and depression. Among children and adolescents, physical activity can improve bone health, improve cardio-respiratory and muscular fitness, decrease level of body fat, and reduce symptoms of depression.

Healthy Food Access

Despite the fact that Mifflin and Juniata counties offer access to and availability of healthier foods, it does not deem to be a strong factor when it comes to a local resident's diet. However, the places where people eat do appear to influence diet. For example, foods eaten away from home often have lower nutritional quality than foods prepared at home. The percentage of fast food restaurants in both counties is well above the national benchmark.

Health BehaviorJuniataMifflinPANational Benchmark
Adult obesity31%31%29%25%
Physical inactivity28%30%26%21%
Limited access to healthy foods6%3%14%1%
Fast food restaurants48%43%49%27%
Source: County Health Rankings and Roadmaps

Tobacco/Alcohol/Illegal Drug Use

Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death and disease in the United States. Excessive alcohol consumption contributes to over 54 different diseases and injuries, including cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, colon, and breast, liver diseases, and other cardiovascular, neurological, psychiatric, and gastrointestinal health problems.

Teen Pregnancy

Prevention of teen and unplanned pregnancy is an important part of a healthy community. Teen childbearing in Pennsylvania cost taxpayers at least $4.6 billion in 2008. Most of the public sector costs of teen childbearing are associated with negative consequences for the children of teen mothers during their childhood and young adult years.

Domestic Violence

The Abuse Network in Lewistown serves both Mifflin and Juniata counties and annually serves approximately 600 new victims and significant others experiencing sexual and/or domestic violence. Of the 600 individuals served, approximately 450 receive domestic violence services and 150 receive sexual assault services. These numbers have remained fairly consistent over the last decade with little fluctuation.


The income section highlights both sides of the income perspective: employment and income. Not all residents in the counties are able to work regardless of the employment picture and outlook.

While there are differences between the two counties, manufacturing continues to dominate other employment sectors in both and though generally declining, remain well above state average. The economy in both counties is primarily dependent on six sectors: manufacturing, healthcare/social services, retail trade, education, accommodation and food services, and local government.

Income and Poverty

Income levels in each of the two counties remain below the state average. While poverty rates in Juniata County are below the state average, Mifflin county's poverty rate remains above the state average.

Median household income (ACS 2007-11)$45,496$38,892$51,651
Percent of persons below poverty level (ACS 2007-11)10.6%15.2%12.6%
Percent of children below poverty level18.0%28.1%18.9%
Per capita income$20,611$19,758$27,824
Percent of receiving SNAP benefits (ACS 2009-11)8.9%16.4%12.7%
Source: Center for Rural Pennsylvania

Children Living in Poverty

The poverty rate for children in Mifflin and Juniata counties has been generally increasing as it has for the state and nation. Additionally, the number of students eligible for free and reduced lunches in the two-county area has increased. The number of uninsured children in our area is also above the state average.

Children in poverty - 200012.3%17.3%13.1%
Children in poverty - 201018.0%28.1%18.9%
Uninsured children - 20108.0%7.4%5.1%
Students eligible for free/reduced lunches - 201015.5%8.6%7.1%
Source: US Census Bureau

Wage Levels and Self-sufficiency Standards

According to the Department of Labor and Industry, with one exception, wage levels in both counties remain below the state average for all employment sectors. When we consider wage levels in relation to established self-sufficiency standards, the average annual wage for each county is approximately on par with for a majority of household types. The wages received across employment/occupation types varies considerably and obscures the difficulty some employees have earning a living wage.