May 1991

Children's Services in an Era of Budget Deficits

Author Affiliations

From the Foundation for Child Development, New York, NY.

Am J Dis Child. 1991;145(5):575-578. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1991.02160050101027

It is virtually impossible to address the issue of how to improve the care of the nation's poor children without confronting the question of the resources society is willing to spend on those children. As a first step in examining that question, I suggest we visualize an increasingly common sight in contemporary hospitals: a premature, lowbirth-weight infant, born with medical complications and hooked up to a life-support system. The baby's mother is penniless; the hospital, or, in other words, society at large will spend thousands of dollars to give the infant all the medical assistance he or she needs to breathe and eat and develop.

What the scenario tells us is that in this instance, society has concluded that almost no amount of money is too much to spend to save the life of a child. The statement is a powerful one. Granted, the work of the neonatal care unit

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