Children with Special Healthcare Needs

Definition of Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs

Children and youth with special health care needs (CYSHCN) are defined by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) as:

“those who have or are at increased risk for a chronic physical, development, behavioral, or emotional condition and who also require health and related services of a type or amount beyond that required by children generally”

This definition is broad and inclusive, and it emphasizes the characteristics held in common by children with a wide range of diagnoses.

Adopted by the AAP (October 1998). McPherson M, Arango P, Fox HB, A new definition of children with special health care needs. Pediatrics. 1998;102:137-140. [Extract] [Full text] [PDF]

Additional literature on CYSHCN can be found on the Medical Home Literature page.