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AAP Agenda for Children Strategic Plan Poverty and Child Health

Health begins where children live, learn, and play. When families can’t afford the basics in life, it negatively affects their health. Poverty can inhibit children’s ability to learn and contribute to social, emotional, and behavioral problems. Poverty is a contributing factor to toxic stress, which has been shown to disrupt the developing brain of infants and children and influence behavioral, educational, economic and health outcomes for years.

Most pediatricians will care for children in families struggling to get by. More than 16 million children (22% of all children under 18) live in households with incomes at or below the 100% federal poverty threshold. Poverty increasingly affects children in suburban areas in addition to rural and urban communities.

Strategic Planning

The AAP formed a Poverty and Child Health Work Group to develop a strategic plan and action steps to address the health effects of poverty to ensure the healthy development of all children.

Andrew Racine, MD, PhD, FAAP

Steven Federico, MD, FAAP
Andrew Garner, MD, PhD, FAAP
Benjamin Gitterman, MD, FAAP
Renée Jenkins, MD, FAAP
Katie Plax, MD, FAAP
Barbara Ricks, MD, FAAP 
Sarah Jane Schwarzenberg, MD, FAAP
Elizabeth Van Dyne, MD
Carole Allen, MD, FAAP
Benard Dreyer, MD, FAAP will serve as the liaison to the Academic Pediatrics Association. To read more about the work group, visit the AAP Media Center.

The Work group will review current activities and identify gaps and opportunities to:

  • Expand Access to Affordable Health Care Services
  • Expand Access to Basic Needs Such as Food, Housing and Transportation
  • Promote Positive Early Brain and Child Development and School Readiness and Success
  • Support Parents 


In the News
Andrew Racine, MD, PhD FAAP
"Child Poverty: Can Pediatricians Make a Difference?" February 14, 2014. Medscape Pediatrics.
James M Perrin, MD FAAP
"Children in Poverty," January 15, 2014. New York Times.

Katie Plax, MD FAAP
A living wage to improve child health and well-being” January 3, 2014. St Louis-Dispatch

Benjamin Gitterman, MD FAAP
The effect of poverty on children’s health” November 10, 2013. Washington Post
For more information about poverty activity at the AAP, contact the Council on Community Pediatrics at

The AAP advocates for federal and state policies that support low income and poor children, including Medicaid, CHIP, the Supplemental Nutrition Access Program, Vaccines for Children, and a variety of other policies.

The AAP develops policy statements and other publications about the impact of poverty on child health. Current policy includes:

Many AAP programs focus on the health of low-income children.

  • The CATCH and Healthy Tomorrows programs distribute grants for projects that promote community partnerships to improve access to health care, community based health care, preventive health care, and service coordination.
  • The National Center for Medical Home Implementation provides resources and tools to ensure all children have access to a medical home.
  • The AAP Head Start National Center on Health provides education, training and technical assistance to the Head Start community.