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The Health & Wellbeing of Children in the Early Years

Clark, H., Revel, E., Royal, P., Wright, P., Teakle, A., Mcilwrath, B., Bradshaw, B., Purvey, C., Mcleod, C., Williams, C., Norman, A., Fitzgerald, D., Mackay, E., Musgrave, J., Peckham, K., Howells, K., Pagden, L., Murray, Pamela ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8009-6900, Blandford, S., Veck, W., Garnett, H., Harland, J., Barlow, J., Wharton, J., James, K., Hunter Blair, M., Greally, M., Calder, N., Mcglone, F., Godfrey, K., Beswick, T. and Veale, V. (2021) The Health & Wellbeing of Children in the Early Years. Project Report. Children's Alliance.

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Abstract

Giving children the best start in life is by far the most effective way to address health
inequalities in the long term.
The wisest investment we can make to achieve the goal of a healthier population is during
the first 1001 critical days of a child’s life. Good nutrition and safe environments supported
by nurturing early relationships are the essential components of children’s cognitive,
emotional and physical development. The importance of this age-range is acknowledged
by the World Health Organisation’s Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and
Adolescents’ Health, the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative and in England, both the NHS
Long Term Plan and Public Health England’s 2016 guidance on ‘Giving every child the best
start in life’.
Covid-19 is having a continuing impact on babies born before and during the pandemic
and children in the early years. The impact has been unequal for children, with a
disproportionate number of BAME families, those living with poverty and children with
SEND facing the greatest challenges.
Parents and carers had less face-to-face interaction with health professionals and early
years settings and studies reported families found it harder to stay active and access
healthy food choices. In the UK, 14% of families with children experienced food insecurity
during the first six months of the pandemic as opposed to 11.5% beforehand. There are
now widespread and burgeoning concerns that Covid-19 has exacerbated nutritional
problems linked to food insecurity including obesity, under-nourishment, nutrient
deficiencies and mental health problems such as anxiety, low self-worth, and depression.
Children have been subjected to violence and abuse at home as a corollary of lockdown
whether as direct recipients or helpless observers. We are now reeling in the aftermath of
such challenges as children’s emotional well-being and education faltered, instead of
thriving. Children need to be put at the heart of any recovery plans to ensure Covid-19 is
not the legacy of their future outcomes.
It is probable that the true impact of the pandemic may not become clear for many years.
Schools are already reporting an increasing number of their pupils requiring extra support
with language and communication and personal social and emotional development.
Early years settings were the one constant in the lives of young children providing a stable
and safe space during Covid-19. They continue to play a central role in supporting parents,
carers and young children in establishing lifelong healthy eating habits. Good quality early
education has a positive impact on young children’s development and safe, excellent
childcare enables parents and carers to work, while their children have the opportunity to
interact with other children and be enriched by new challenges and experiences within a
safe space. Nursery settings support children’s care and development from birth to five
years and are a vital source of information, guidance and support for parents, carers and
families. Early years providers continued to provide this support throughout the
pandemic yet Covid-19 has impacted greatly on early years providers.

Item Type: Report (Project Report)
Additional Information:

The full-text of the online published report can be accessed via the official URL.

Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: College of Business, Psychology and Sport > School of Psychology
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Pamela Murray
Date Deposited: 03 Oct 2022 13:43
Last Modified: 01 Dec 2022 04:00
URI: https://eprints.worc.ac.uk/id/eprint/12501

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