Pediatric practices can use simple screening tools that ask families about basic needs. These screening tools will help identify families with unmet needs, and in response, practices can make referrals to appropriate community resources and services. 
To get started with screening: 

  • If your practice is not currently screening for basic needs, consider starting with one issue, such as food insecurity. 
  • Screen families universally, rather than targeting specific families. Explain to families that the screening is universal. 
  • Work with your practice team to determine how to screen families in the most effective and sensitive manner. 
  • Show empathy when talking with families about basic needs. Be willing to say “I don’t know but I will try to help you find out.” 
  • Recognize that you won’t be able to address every concern, and that you don’t have to “fix” everything on your own. 
  • Work with your practice team and community partners to identify resources and services that are available for families who have positive screens. 

Suggested ​Screening Tools 

See below for widely available free screening tools. The AAP does not endorse any specific tool, but encourages pediatricians to use the tools that best suit the needs of their practice. 

Connecting Fam​ilies to Community Resources and Services 

Resources are often available in the community to help families with unmet basic needs. 
To get started with making community service referrals: 

  • Download the resource referral template​ for completion in your practice. When completing the template, review the links to national and state resources for assistance with finding a local resource. View a completed sample template.  
  • Work with community partners and other service providers to identify local services and resources. Helpful partners may include local public health departments, hospitals, social workers, legal aid organizations, community action agencies, non-profit and faith-based organizations. 
  • Work with your practice team to complete and update your local resource template as needed. Students, volunteers, administrative staff, and medical staff can work together to complete the template. 
  • Share your completed resource template with other pediatricians, family physicians, and your AAP Chapter. 
  • Develop partnerships with local organizations that assist low-income families. Take a tour of your community and meet with community and organizational leaders. 

Improvin​g Processes 

  • Develop a process for evaluating the effectiveness of your practice’s screening and referral activities. 
  • Invite feedback from families and integrate feedback into quality improvement activities. 

Additional Resources

View this list of national and community service organizations that assist familes with a variety of needs related to poverty and health care. 

Last Updated



American Academy of Pediatrics