American Academy of Pediatrics releases new policy statement to help end childhood poverty

When Marsha D. Raulerson, M.D., FAAP, asked a patient his three greatest wishes, his first was to be in the NBA. His second and third were to help his family and for things to get better.

“Most 16-year-old boys don’t say that,” said Dr. Raulerson, who practices in Brewton. She often uses the wish question to root out problems faced by her patients, many living in or near poverty. She may find out a family has housing insecurity or not enough to eat. In the case of the teen, Dr. Raulerson learned the boy was acting out at school because of stress at home. She referred him to a counselor and, as she does with every patient at every visit, she gave him a book.

“That’s my biggest poverty prevention program,” she said.

Listed under the What Works to Ameliorate the Effects of Childhood Poverty in the report:

“Early literacy promotion in the medical home with programs such as Reach Out and Read advances reading readiness by approximately six months when compared with controls.”

According to Voices for Alabama’s Children Kids Count Data Book 2015, nearly 27 percent of children in Alabama live in poverty with half living in extreme poverty.

Learn more here with an interview with American Academy of Pediatrics past president, Renee Jenkins, on PBS Newshour discussing the new policy statement and technical report.