APA TASK FORCE ON CHILDHOOD POVERTY
At the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies 4/30/13, there was a new call for pediatricians to address childhood poverty as a national problem, rather than wrestling with its consequences case by case in the exam room. The result is A Strategic Road Map: Committed to Bringing the Voice of Pediatricians to the Most Important Problem Facing Children in the US Today.
Kingdom, have devised long-term national efforts to dramatically decrease childhood poverty and have succeeded. Where there is a serious public intention and effort to tackle childhood poverty, substantial reductions can in fact be achieved. We will treat childhood poverty as an issue with a pathway to resolution and focus on specific policies, programs and actions.
children, racial/ethnic minorities, Native
Americans, and children in immigrant families. Special attention will be paid to these groups of children, including addressing their cultural and linguistic needs.
needs of these children and families.
implemented over time. We cannot wait any longer and are beginning a long-term effort to address poverty in children. Any solutions that are found will also need to be sustained and protected from retrenchment.
A Strategic Road Map
The Task Force will focus on specific strategies involving public policy and advocacy, health care delivery, medical education, and research. These strategic priorities are a first step in a "war on childhood poverty".
Public Policy and Advocacy
In addition to existing, ongoing policy and advocacy activities (such as support for Medicaid and CHIP), the Task Force will focus on four strategic priorities:
1. Raising families out of poverty: Scientific evidence shows that income matters. We support making work pay through raising the minimum wage so that families with at least one full-time wage-earner will no longer live below the FPL, through improvements in the Child Tax Credit to make it refundable to poor families, especially those with the youngest children, and by further strengthening the Earned Income Tax Credit, which provides more targeted benefits to poor families. We also support
strengthening and improving access to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families to better help parents receive benefits and find and keep jobs. Efforts will be needed at both the federal and state levels.
2. Providing high quality early childhood programs and high quality affordable child care
to poor families: The clearest evidence for interventions that alleviate the effects of poverty on children and give them a chance at productive lives is in early childhood. We support free high quality pre-Kindergarten for all 3- and 4-year-old poor and near poor children; improving and expanding Head Start and Early Head Start, as well as other innovative models starting at birth; evidence- based home visiting programs for all poor children; and evidence-based interventions in pediatric primary care. We also support high quality affordable child care. Availability of high quality affordable child care will improve early childhood development, decrease the significant economic burden of child care on poor families (thus decreasing poverty), and allow parents to work (further decreasing poverty). One tool to make child care affordable is to modify the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit by substantially raising reimbursements of qualifying child care expenses for poor families. Increasing the availability of high quality child care to poor families will require working with Congress, federal agencies such as the DHHS Administration for Children and Families, and state legislatures and agencies regarding local funding and implementation.
3.Promoting a White House Conference on Children and Youth: From 1909 to 1970, seven White House Conferences on Children and Youth, roughly every ten years, took place in Washington, D.C. There has not been a Conference since 1970. These Conferences were devoted to improving the lives of children across the nation. They were one or two-year long endeavors, involving the executive branch,
Congress, voluntary agencies and state level activities. They produced many important outcomes, including a commitment to ending the institutionalization of dependent children, ending child labor, the first significant report on child health and welfare standards, the creation of the US Children's Bureau
(now part of the DHHS Administration for Children and Families), the development of a national Children's Charter, funding for maternal and child health programs, improvements in education, and legitimacy given to the benefits of creative freedom and healthy personality development on children's well- being. Legislation to convene a new White House
Conference on Children and Youth has been
promoted in Congress, and non-profit advocacy groups have focused on getting support from the White House. The time has come to refocus the nation on the needs of children and develop a vision for the welfare of c hildren and youth in the 21st Century.
4.Neighborhood Revitalization Initiatives ("place-based" initiatives):The White House has committed the federal government to develop effective initiatives to improve neighborhoods, including: improving school quality and access to high-quality early childhood care; improving the built environment with better streetscapes, more fresh food stores and better transportation; providing more local job training; and increasing funding to address crime. We have great experience in partnering with families and communities though decades of experience in community pediatrics and community-based participatory research. We
plan to work with the Department of Health and Human Services (especially MCHB and ACF), the Department of Education, and the Department of Justice to bring pediatric expertise to these initiatives.
Health Care Delivery
The Task Force will work, in collaboration with the AAP, to support pediatric practitioners in their efforts to care for children in poor and
near poor families. These efforts will include:
1. Developing elements of a Patient-Centered Medical Home for Children (PCMHC) that addresses
the needs of poor and near-poor families
a.Identification of children living in poor and near poor families and determination of the
specific needs of those children and families
b.Systems that facilitate connecting families with community and government resources and
benefits, including maximizing utilization of the ACA home visiting programs.
c. Establishment of appropriate roles within the health care team for the above activities
d. Screening and evaluation for speech and language, school function, child mental health,
maternal depression, and parental adverse childhood events.
e. Evidence-based, primary care program located strategies that disproportionately help children in poor families, e.g.:
2. Support for the development of payment systems and structures to support pediatric practices that devote time and resources to reducing the negative impacts of poverty on populations they serve.
a. Identification of resources for care
b. Meaningful linkages with community resources
3. Adapting health care systems to address the specific challenges faced for poor and low-income families with children with special health care needs.
a. Coordination with services provided by
child care,schools, Title V, housing, nutrition
and other publicly-funded agencies
b. Work within systems to provide new services identified in ACA (e.g., ABA-therapies for
children with ASD)
4. Support for the developmental of collocation programs including two generation programs for mothers and children, and collocation of behavioral health programs with medical programs.
5.Enhancements to Bright Futures: Integrating the issues of poor families more strongly into Bright Futures with appropriate screening tools and tool-kits that help practitioners:
a.Identify needs of poor and near-poor families
b. Identify community and government resources for those children and families
c. Assist families in accessing those resources
6. Developing non-partisan programs to encourage families to vote on childrenÃ¢€™s issues.
7. Establishing a framework for evaluation of the impact of the expanded PCMHC upon child and
The Task Force has set up a subcommittee to develop educational products and activities regarding childhood poverty for medical students, residents, fellows, faculty, practitioners, and other child health providers. These efforts will promote:
1. Understanding the impact of poverty and other social determinants of health on well-being over the life course and across generations.
2. Development of the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to implement the elements of the PCMHC.
3. Advocacy training toward poverty reduction in conjunction with the AAP Community Training and Advocacy Initiative (CPTI), and models of advocacy training from residency training programs across the US. We will work to build statewide and regional collaboratives uniting the pediatric voice across the nearly 200 pediatric training programs in the US. Collaboration with other organizations of fering advocacy training may also be important, including efforts of the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Medical Student Association, Physicians for a National Health Program, and others.
The Task Force will work with the APA Research Committee and the AAP Committee on Pediatric Research to create a research agenda to develop better evidence regarding childhood poverty, especially the effectiveness and implementation of policies and programs to improve the health and well-being of poor children. While we will await the deliberations of these committees for a thoughtful and detailed agenda, areas of focus may include:
1. Continued research into early brain development and the effect of toxic stress on adaptive self-regulation, executive functioning, social-emotional and cognitive development, and resiliency.In addition, further research on the impact of epigenetics on brain functioning and its relationship totoxic stressors in poverty.
2. Further research on developing the evidence base for interventions.
3. Further research to determine how policies, programs and other interventions lift children out of poverty and how they alleviate the effects of poverty on children: filling in the gaps of previous research.
4. Taking evidence-based practice to scale (implementation and dissemination)
5. Community-based participatory research
6. Development of valid and reliable measures of important outcomes and determinants related to childhood poverty.
7. A life course approach to research on childhood poverty.
American Academy of Pediatrics & American Academy of Pediatrics
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