Children with Special Health Care Needs in Milwaukee


The federal Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) has defined Children with Special Health Care Needs (CSHCN) as those who require above routine health and related services for ongoing physical, emotional, behavioral or developmental conditions.  As reflected in both the Healthy People 2010 objectives for the nation and the President's New Freedom Initiative, meeting the health care needs of CSHCN is a high priority in America today.  In the previous study, Partington et al. (2006) found that the prevalence of CSHCN in Milwaukee (23.5%) was almost double that of the surrounding Milwaukee MSA counties (12.1%).   


A survey to identify children with special health care needs in the Milwaukee metropolitan statistical area (MSA) was conducted using the CSHCN Screener©.  The survey was administered as part of the annual Greater Milwaukee Survey in 2005, 2007, 2008.  Results from this survey were compared to state and national data from the 2005-2006 National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs.  The screener will continue to be administered as part of the Greater Milwaukee Survey to monitor and track children’s health status in the future


In 2005, 2007, and 2008, no statistically significant difference of prevalence of CSHCN between city and non-city was found.  The number and type of positive screener questions were not significantly different among the geographic areas. 

Conclusions/Policy Implications

The prevalence of CSHCN has been consistently associated with poverty in numerous other studies.  Despite earlier findings by Partington et al. (2006) this current analyses indicated no more or less prevalence in the City of Milwaukee than in surrounding counties (non-city).  More research is needed to provide further conclusive evidence.


Partington, S., Cisler, R.A., & Blair, K. (2006). Prevalence of Children with Special Health Care Needs in Milwaukee, Wisconsin:  Data from the Milwaukee Metropolitan Statistical Area. Wisconsin Medical Journal, 105(3), 30-35. 

Key Partners

Center for Urban Population Health

  • Han-Yang Chen, M.S. 
  • Ron A. Cisler, Ph.D.
  • Jessica Rice, M.P.H.