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Poverty & Disparities

The poverty/disparities work group is committed to improving health outcomes for low-income and at-risk children.

Priorities include: 1) Educating members about health disparities, poverty/ homelessness, food deserts, etc. 2) Identifying community and state level partners 3) Advocating for increased access to care, food, housing, and transportation.


The Governor’s office has approved a request from the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (MNAAP), the Minnesota Medical Association (MMA) and the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians (MAFP) to proclaim January 2019 as Health Equity Month in Minnesota.

In addition to other activities, we are collaborating on a two-part health equity series via MMA’s Facebook Live page, so mark your calendars and plan to join us!

  • January 22, 2019 (noon – 1 p.m.) – Addressing health disparities within the Native American community
  • February 20, 2019 (noon – 1 p.m.) – Structural racism and other barriers to health equity

These activities have been approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™

For more information, visit 


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Addressing Violence and Intolerance: Guidance for Families


MNAAP President Dr. Andrew Kiragu recently wrote a statement about the epidemic of violence and intolerance threatening the physical and emotional health of children and ways pediatric providers can partner with parents to break the cycle. Read the statement and consider sharing with colleagues and patient families.


AAP Policy Statement: Poverty and Child Health in the United States


About 21 percent of children in the United States currently live in poverty. Recognizing the health implications of poverty and toxic stress, AAP’s latest policy statement on this topic urges pediatricians to screen for poverty by asking one simple question: “Do you have difficulty making ends meet at the end of the month?” and be aware of tools and resources that can help lift families out of poverty. Read the policy statement Poverty and Child Health in the United States.


AAP Policy Statement Recommends 2-Question Screening Tool to Screen for Food Insecurity


With 1 in 5 children living in food-insecure homes, AAP calls for pediatricians to use a 2-question screening tool to screen for food insecurity and refer those who screen positively to resources that support access to adequate, healthy food. Read more about AAP’s policy statement “Promoting Food Security for All Children.”

Pediatric Disparities in Minnesota

An infographic created by MNAAP



Search for data by state, city or congressional district on a wide variety of pediatric topics and characteristics.


Health Equity of Care Report

View data collected by medical groups in Minnesota that compare quality measures, such as adolescent behavioral health and/or depression screening, pediatric preventive care and optimal asthma care.


Health Equity of Care Report

View data collected by medical groups in Minnesota that compare quality measures, such as adolescent behavioral health and/or depression screening, pediatric preventive care and optimal asthma care.

Poverty Screening and Referrals

Hunger Solutions | SNAP Rx

A statewide organization that connects food-insecure individuals and families to local food and nutrition resources, including SNAP.

Bridge to Benefits | Handout

An excellent online screening tool that clinics can use to see if families may be eligible for public work support programs in Minnesota, from health care coverage to SNAP to child care assistance. Upon receiving the form, program staff follow up with patients directly to connect them to the services they may need. Coordinated by Children’s Defense Fund.


Quick Links:

Note that these forms can be completed in other languages or online. Find links and more info about each program at Bridge to Benefits»


Equity and Inclusion

Achieving Health Equity in the Clinic
16 tips from Dr. Chris Reiff

  • Accept all forms of insurance, including Medicaid and MinnesotaCare.
  •  Accommodate languages other than English either through staff or interpreter services.
  •  Have a multicultural staff, especially at the front desk answering phones.
  •  Display art that reflects people of color.
  • Make your waiting room child-friendly.
  • Allow patients to share their cultural identity on forms.
  • Never make assumptions about a person’s language, education, employment or finances.
  •  Be respectful in addressing people, using Mr., Ms. or Dr.
  • Offer health education materials in different languages and at reading levels for all education levels.
  • Spend extra time establishing trust; it may be lacking from the patient’s previous experience with the health care system.
  • Acknowledge gender differences, sexual orientation, religious concerns, immigrant status, family dynamics, and home/alternative therapies.
  • Be sure the patient has the resources and understanding to carry out a care plan, including insurance, money, and transportation and home supplies.
  • Ask patients if their needs were met by the exam or if there is something more you can do.
  •  Schedule follow-up visits sensitive to child care, work or transportation needs.
  • Have clinic hours that match patient needs, which may include weekend or evening hours.
  • Be prepared to stay present with your patients as they deal with the difficult and complex problems often compounded by the social determinants of health—problems such as diabetes, asthma, hypertension, depression, chemical use, HIV, domestic violence and unplanned pregnancy.
  • Celebrate the fact that most people who experience health disparities are good people struggling each day to provide for their families in a system and society that continues to put on them the burden of racism, economic inequality, and destructive stereotypes.

Submitted by Dr. Chris Reif, director of clinical services at the Community-University Health Care Center, and member of MNAAP poverty and disparities workgroup
Minnesota Medicine, December 2015.  C. Reif, MD, MPH


Implicit Bias
Implicit bias can have a direct impact on care provided and widen the disparities gap. This online tool is intended to help providers identify any implicit bias they may hold and consider how they can address it to improve quality of care for all populations served.


Talking to Children About Racial Bias
Given the tragic and racially-charged current events, many parents are wrestling with their own feelings, the hopes they have for their children, and the difficulty of helping those children thrive in a world full of racial bias.


Embracing Different: Teaching Children to Embrace Diversity Starts in the Preschool Years
An article from MNAAP member Dr. Rachel Tellez in Minnesota Parent.


Culturally Effective Care Toolkit
A practical, hands-on resource from AAP to help practicing pediatricians and their office staff provide culturally-effective care to their patients and families.


Selecting Age- and Culturally-Appropriate Books for Your Medical Home
Be sure the books you offer patients promote affirming messages and don’t reinforce stereotypes.

MNAAP’s poverty and disparities work group recently launched a virtual book club that meets by conference call or video every quarter. (You do not have to be a member of the work group to participate.)

In keeping with our focus on understanding and addressing disparities, our current book is “Late Homecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir” by Kao Kalia Yang, who is a Minnesota author.

The book presents the journey from refugee camp to America and the hardships and joys of a family’s struggle to adapt in a strange culture while holding onto traditions that are passed down from her beloved grandmother.

We invite you to join us in reading this or future books and discussing its relevance to pediatrics. We typically meet every 2-3 months by conference call over the lunch hour. Even if you don’t read all of the book, you’re welcome to join us!

For more information, contact MNAAP.

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