An Essential Role for Pediatricians: Becoming Child Poverty Change Agents for a Lifetime

Katie Plax, Jeanine Donnelly, Steven G. Federico, Leonard Brock, Jeffrey M. Kaczorowski

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

12 Scopus citations


Poverty has profound and enduring effects on the health and well-being of children, as well as their subsequent adult health and success. It is essential for pediatricians to work to reduce child poverty and to ameliorate its effects on children. Pediatricians have important and needed tools to do this work: authority/power as physicians, understanding of science and evidence-based approaches, and first-hand, real-life knowledge and love of children and families. These tools need to be applied in partnership with community-based organizations/leaders, educators, human service providers, business leaders, philanthropists, and policymakers. Examples of the effects of pediatricians on the issue of child poverty are seen in Ferguson, Missouri; Denver, Colorado; and Rochester, New York. In addition, national models exist such as the American Academy of Pediatrics Community Pediatrics Training Initiative, which engages numerous pediatric faculty to learn and work together to make changes for children and families who live in poverty and to teach these skills to pediatric trainees. Some key themes/lessons for a pediatrician working to make changes in a community are to bear witness to and recognize injustice for children and families; identify an area of passion; review the evidence and gain expertise on the issue; build relationships and partnerships with community leaders and organizations; and advocate for effective solutions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S147-S154
JournalAcademic Pediatrics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016


  • advocacy
  • child poverty
  • community partners
  • pediatric education
  • pediatricians


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