The Fostering Network is to work with the Children’s Food Trust, and the National Association of Care Catering, in a new partnership to explore the issues which can prevent children in care from eating well and from growing up with the skills they need to do so as adults.
There is limited research about the nutrition of children in care, but for some health outcomes children in care are at greater risk. Neglect is one of the main reasons for children entering care, sometimes following inadequate or inappropriate food provision – leaving a child with a poor relationship with food and subsequent risks for their health and development.
More widely, all children in the UK are facing dietary challenges: one in five children starts school overweight or obese, rising to one in three by the time they leave primary school; most children don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables while many consume too much sugar, salt and saturated fat; and dental decay has become the most common reason for five-to-nine-year-olds to be admitted to hospital.
As part of our work, together we plan to explore the support currently given to foster carers and staff in residential children’s homes on helping children in care to eat healthily, and what might further support them in delivering their crucial role in children’s nutrition.
Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network says: “The Fostering Network is passionate about helping fostered young people to flourish. We know that eating well is a vital element for children’s development, wellbeing, educational outcomes and so on. That’s why we’re so excited to be working in partnership with The Children’s Food Trust and the National Association of Care Catering to support foster carers as they take a lead on the nutrition of the children they are caring for.”
The Children’s Food Trust’s CEO, Linda Cregan, says: “We’ve been working with carers for a while now, developing their skills to get children in care cooking, but that’s only one part of a child’s food journey. We look forward to exploring the wider issues for the nutrition of children in care and what more we can do together to help every child eat well.”
Neel Radia, chair of the National Association of Care Catering says: “In the public domain, there is a lot of information and emphasis on the value of quality, nutritious food provision for the elderly in care environments. There is, however, very little focus on children in care. The National Association of Care Catering recognises and promotes the importance of good nutritional care for all age groups, including children, and we are therefore very excited about this partnership.”
The initial work of the three groups will examine existing evidence on how children in care eat and the support their carers are given to deliver healthy, nutritious food and develop cooking skills, before making recommendations on what more could be done to help children in care eat well.