Keeping Children Healthy Starts at Birth
Health and wellness is critical during the period of rapid growth and development. Preventive health care and screenings, as well as a healthy, nutritious diet are vital for a baby’s developing brain.
Policies can ensure families have consistent access to quality health services and nutrition support programs for infants, toddlers, and pregnant women.
A key aspect of family well-being is the health of all family members. Health promotion and illness prevention depend on the availability of affordable, nutritious food, and access to a regular medical home. It also depends on oral health, mental health, and substance abuse treatment resources.
Hunger is a reality for fifty million people in the U.S. and it is more common in households with children (Coleman-Jensen, Nord, & Singh, 2013). Low-income neighborhoods are less likely to have grocery stores. The food that is accessible is often not very healthy. Food insecurity, or poor access to nutritious, affordable food, can interfere with the whole family’s health.
Nutrition and Health Services Across Head Start, WIC, CCDF, & CACFP
It’s easier for eligible families to benefit from nutrition and health services when programs and agencies coordinate. Explore this page to find resources to strengthen local, state, and regional coordination between:
These efforts are encouraged through a federal memorandum of understanding (MOU) [PDF] between OHS, Office of Child Care (OCC), Supplemental Nutrition and Safety Programs (SNAS), and Child Nutrition Programs (CNP).
A historic boost to child care funding means states can start to realize the potential of the Child Care and Development Block Grant. - Congress’s bipartisan budget agreement passed recently includes a historic funding increase for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), the nation’s largest federal child care assistance program.
About one in five households with children in the United States face food insecurity at some point during the year. This means that the family sometimes cannot afford enough healthy food to feed everyone well. Some or all members of the family may go hungry, skip meals, or eat nothing for an entire day (or longer).
What You Might Be Seeing
Healthy food is very important for children’s growth and well-being. This is especially true during the first 3 years. A lack of food affects children’s:
• Bodies. Children may get sick and go to the hospital more often.
• Behavior. A lack of healthy food at home can cause fighting, hyperactivity, and mood swings in school-age children. Older youth may feel depressed, anxious, or suicidal.
• Learning. Children can have a hard time getting to school every day or making progress in reading and math.