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Physical and mental health for young children
Physical and mental health for young children

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3.3 Protecting babies’ and young children’s health

Marmot et al. (2020) are very clear on how to help every child to have a good start in life.

Recommendations for giving every child the best start in life

  • Increase levels of spending on early years and as a minimum meet the OECD average and ensure allocation of funding is proportionately higher for more deprived areas.
  • Reduce levels of child poverty to 10 per cent – level with the lowest rates in Europe.
  • Improve availability and quality of early years services, including Children’s Centres, in all regions of England.

Increase pay and qualification requirements for the childcare workforce.

(Marmot et al., 2020, p. 49)

Further ways in which you can help young children and their families to have healthier lives include:

  • Signposting to or using other services and advice to offset stress and the impacts of poverty, such as available financial benefits, debt management support, freely available voluntary organisations that can offer help, e.g. Step Change [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] Debt charity, Citizens Advice Bureau, Homestart UK.
  • Maintaining or using contact details of local services such as health visitor services, children’s library services, accessible outdoor play spaces. Inviting other professionals in to your setting to talk to parents or to leave information can also be helpful.
  • Making use of free health-related training for yourself and staff, see for example the excellent online resources as part of the Anna Freud Centre, Early Years in Mind. It is a free online network for early years practitioners. The network provides easy to read and easy to use guidance on supporting the mental health of babies, young children and their families.
  • Seeking support and referrals for services on behalf of parents and their children where appropriate and with their permission or supporting them to do so themselves.

In later sessions of this course, especially Session 6, you will be guided through a five-step plan of the Toolkit in which practitioners and parents can work together to set self-chosen, meaningful, health-related goals to maintain or improve young children’s health in your care.