Over the past decade, there have been significant expansions in policies that support low-income working families, such as refundable tax credits, health insurance, child support enforcement, child care subsidies, and nutritional supports.  These programs help hard working families who struggle to meet basic needs due to low wages, irregular hours and lack of benefits. However, this safety net is incomplete.   CLASP advocates for improvements in individual programs and in the service delivery system to help ensure low-income families have the support they need to stay employed and provide for their families.

Nov 10, 2015  |  PERMALINK »

Pediatricians Speak Out About Food Insecurity

By Suzanne Wikle

Who knows more about kids’ health than pediatricians?  The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) recently made a strong statement about the link between hunger and children’s health. The AAP called for pediatricians to take action by screening patients and their families for food insecurity and advocating for increased access to nutrition programs. Following the release of AAP’s policy statement, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Vilsack spoke at the annual AAP conference, highlighting the importance of child nutrition programs and noting that more than 15 million American children live in food-insecure households without consistent access to sufficient food.

As outlined in the policy statement, food insecurity is linked with lower cognitive indicators, dysregulated behavior, and emotional distress among children of all ages. The statement also notes that households with children are nearly twice as likely to be food insecure as households without children and that the inability to consistently provide food creates stress in families, contributing to depression, anxiety, and toxic stress.

Pediatricians are uniquely positioned to screen families for food insecurity and connect them with resources.  As the AAP policy statement points out, pediatricians should also play a role in advocacy to ensure “access to effective assistance programs is expanded rather than reduced.” It’s exciting to see AAP encourage pediatricians to advocate for systemic improvements to increase children’s access to nutritional food. For example, the AAP policy statement includes advocating for Express Lane Eligibility (ELE), which automatically enrolls children in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) based on eligibility for other programs, such as free school lunch.

States and advocates, including pediatricians, have been working to reduce the number of uninsured children by improving access to Medicaid. These efforts have been incredibly successful; the rate of children without health insurance is at an historic low. Unfortunately, nutrition assistance has received less attention. Too many children still suffer from food insecurity even though their families are likely eligible to receive food through SNAP, formerly known as food stamps. For example, in Colorado, while just 5.6 percent of children lack health insurance coverage—a significant improvement due to years of advocacy and systems change—nearly one in 5 children (19 percent) experience food insecurity.

Seeing the disparity between children’s access to health care and their access to food, pediatricians are well positioned to speak out about improving access to programs like SNAP and WIC. We applaud the AAP for encouraging its members to get involved. And we encourage other advocates to engage with pediatricians in their states. Together, we can give kids what they need to develop to their full potential. 

Work Support Strategies: Streamlining Access, Strengthening Families

The Work Support Strategies initiative provides a select group of states the opportunity to design, test, and implement more effective, streamlined, and integrated approaches to delivering key supports for low-income working families. READ MORE »


Advancing Strategies to Align Programs

The Advancing Strategies to Align Programs (ASAP) initiative helps state advocates promote increased enrollment in work support programs, particularly Medicaid and SNAP, through program alignment and information sharing. It draws on the lessons of the Work Support Strategies initiative.

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