Health Promotion Guidance: Nutritional Guidance for Children and Young People in Residential Care Settings

Health promotion guidance for children and young people in residential care settings

Ministerial Foreword

Included in our vision for Scotland is that we will live longer, healthier lives. We believe that a healthier Scotland is essential if we are to realise our central purpose of creating a more successful nation through sustainable economic growth where we can all flourish.

The Scottish Government believes that all children and young people should get the support they need to become successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens. This will help to ensure that they are ready to make the choices they will face as adults.

We want our children and young people to understand the importance of a healthy lifestyle. This includes ensuring they develop the practical skills and knowledge to be able to choose a healthy and balanced diet. This is particularly important if we are to reduce their risk of diet-related diseases, such as obesity, over the course of their lifetime.

Everyone involved in the child's life has a role to play and the guidelines in this document recognise that for many children and young people, residential care settings act as their primary home environment and have a unique role to play in their care. We believe that we should be as ambitious for looked after children as we are for our own children and corporate parenting is key to this. Professionals and carers who take on the role of a corporate parent face many challenges but everyone involved needs to be able to answer the question "is this good enough for my child?".

Good quality residential care needs to adopt a holistic approach to health and wellbeing. Such an approach will encourage a 'health promoting environment' and support residential establishments to address the physical, social, cultural and emotional aspects of food and food related issues experienced by our children and young people. Equally important is the relationships between staff and children, and amongst children themselves, which are the foundation upon which their future wellbeing will be built.

The working group tasked with developing this document recognised the importance of basing the guidance around the views and experiences of children and young people living in residential care settings. In response to this, the Scottish Government commissioned the consultation report " It's no like one of those café places where you can order anything you want", which was carried out by Who Cares? Scotland. It describes in some detail food and food-related issues as experienced by the children and young people in residential care settings.

These nutritional guidelines closely reflect the advice and support provided within our Healthy Eating in Schools: A guide to implementing the nutritional requirements for food and drink in schools (Scotland) regulations 2008. They complement a package of measures, introduced by Scottish Government, that will encourage our children and young people to make healthy and informed choices as they go through life into adulthood.

In a Scotland where every child matters, we want all our children to achieve their potential and to be able to celebrate success in their lives. We have to want the same for our looked after children as we do for our own children. We have a social and moral obligation to do our very best for those most vulnerable members of our communities and to show that we can and will do better. Our children and young people deserve the best lives we can provide. By working together I am confident that we can ensure that each and everyone reaches their potential.

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