This month’s issue of the Better Care Network newsletter, published in partnership with SPOON, focuses on children’s nutrition and care, including nutrition and food security for vulnerable children during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The right to food is a fundamental human right for everyone, including children. Good nutrition, a core element of this right, supports children’s growth and brain development, builds a foundation for future health, and is a critical part of nurturing care. Poor nutrition, particularly in the first 1,000 days, can cause irreversible delays in child development.
As COVID-19 strikes, a quarter of all children suffer from stunting, and malnutrition is linked to approximately 45% of all child deaths globally. Furthermore, the World Food Program predicts that the economic impact of COVID-19 will double the number of people facing severe food shortages by the end of 2020.
The research from SPOON and others highlighted in this newsletter issue demonstrates that children living outside of family care suffer from malnutrition at rates far greater than their peers. This is particularly true for children with disabilities, who are over-represented in this population, particularly in institutional settings. While malnutrition is only one of many issues that must be addressed in family strengthening and deinstitutionalization efforts, it is foundational. Families experiencing food insecurity and poverty are more likely to relinquish their children, especially when the children have special healthcare needs, and children in residential care who are malnourished are more likely to face challenges returning home or being placed with a family.
Best practices in nutrition and feeding can significantly improve the development and wellbeing of children without family care, as well as for children with disabilities. Nutrition support can also help to strengthen families, thus preventing family separation and promoting reintegration.
The resources featured in this issue address the unique nutrition and feeding needs of these groups of children. They cover both what and how children are fed, including ways to promote safe, nurturing feeding practices.