This resource pack has been designed and published as part of the ‘Food in Care’, an innovative programme led by Health Equalities Group to assist Children in Care (CiC) and their carers to lead healthier lives. This initiative was developed by Hearty Lives Liverpool, a three year British Heart Foundation-funded project, delivered in partnership with Liverpool City Council and other local partners.
This resource pack and the whole Food in Care programme came about because evidence indicates that children in or with experience of the care system have greater health needs (both mental and physiological) and are likely to suffer from more chronic health conditions than others of the same age outside the care system.
Many children and young people come into care with a poor nutritional status. They often have food anxieties (such as overeating or hoarding food) which can be linked to early experiences of either abuse or neglect. In addition, carers themselves often face barriers such as lack of financial support, access to relevant training and with concerns about their own lifestyle and habits. Carers need access to information that will enable them to improve and maintain the health of the children and young people in their care.
The majority of health promotion resources that are currently available cover health in a general sense but there is a dearth of resources focussed on food beyond the nutritional content, and catering for the specific demands of carers and Children in Care (CiC).
Food has a major role in a child or young person’s health and well-being. Decisions about how food is provided and consumed has a fundamental impact on the relationships and dynamics within a care setting; healthy eating habits throughout the life course will reduce the risk of health problems in later life. It is important that the food and eating patterns to which young people are exposed to promote positive relationships with food and good nutrition. Physical activity also plays a huge role in the health and well-being of children and young people, enhancing their quality of life and self-esteem.
This resource has been produced for carers and other professionals to fill the existing gap and support them in their unique role. Foster and residential care settings act as the primary home environment for children and young people and can increase their life chances through healthy behaviours in childhood and later life. We believe this resource can make a real difference to the care that is provided; thus improving the lives of one of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in the population.