The field of pediatrics has pioneered approaches to mitigating poverty's harmful effects on children's health and development. Clinical interventions for systematically addressing material hardships due to poverty within the context of pediatric care delivery, however, are still in their infancy. Since the American Academy of Pediatrics published its policy statement on Child Health and Poverty in the United States in 2016, interest has surged in the development and implementation of care models that systematically identify and address social risks and/or social needs. This article explores this major shift in interest, research, and investment in such interventions within pediatric care. We provide an overview of current screening and referral models for addressing poverty-related social factors and explore the strengths and weaknesses of these varied approaches. We summarize the current evidence supporting such clinical approaches, and comment on the importance of multi-sectoral partnerships in addressing families’ and communities’ needs. Lastly, we propose future directions for research and pediatric practice that may enhance the uptake of social risks/needs interventions and bolster the evidence of their effectiveness. Though clinical approaches for addressing material hardship may be limited by an insufficient social safety net and other barriers, interventions to identify and address families’ social risks and social needs have the potential to combat poverty's impact on children and advance health equity.
- material hardships
- social determinants of health
- social needs
- social risk
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health