The paradigm of public health has always been regarded as an essential part of national and global health care, as proper and timely health promotion and intervention catalyzes the positive prospects of health care’s development. Thus, to secure a meaningful and steady process of improving the public health of the community, health promotion programs are introduced. Fundamentally, health promotion programs are endeavors focused on encouraging individuals and communities to promote healthy behaviors within the community and choose these behaviors themselves (Sharma & Branscum, 2020). The purpose of the present paper is to present a model of a health promotion program addressing the issue of early childhood nutrition.
Background and Objective
Proper nutrition and access to a quality diet are key in terms of promoting health and disease prevention. However, while it is important for everyone, the notion of childhood nutrition has a higher level of significance due to how food shapes children’s future development. The research indicates that besides having poor outcomes such as calcium deficiency or anemia, childhood malnutrition obtains a detrimental effect on children’s cognitive functioning and motor development (DiGirolamo et al., 2020). Statistically, inconsistent nutrition and lack of access to healthy food are common issues in the US, with “1 in 7 children living in food-insecure households” (Children’s Defense Fund, 2021, p. 20). Although no statistic is yet available to the community, it is evident that the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has made matters.
Since the pandemic outbreak, the overall rate of food insecurity has been gradually increasing, and the issue has become especially relevant for young mothers who cannot access supplementary nutrition for their children. One of the most beneficial solutions to this issue in the US is the existence of a federal program called the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC, 2021). Its primary objective is to provide nutritional support for children and pregnant women at nutritional risk.
Although this program has proven to improve the nutrition rates among US children, a lack of awareness about nutrition importance and resources is still common (Williams & Suchdev, 2017). Thus, there is a need to introduce a community educational campaign that would help young mothers gain knowledge on the importance of nutrition and national resources that could secure nutritional assistance for food-insecure community residents. Hence, the community health intervention tackling this issue would be to create an educational online leaflet that would be advertised to the target demographics of the project. The primary objective of such a project is to decrease the early childhood malnutrition rates through education and providing parents with federal assistance resources.
The framework to define the major steps of program planning is also known as MATCH, or Multilevel Approach to Community Health. The first step of this framework includes the development of health and behavioral objectives (Sharma & Branscum, 2020). Thus, the target demographic of this intervention is the children population faced with malnutrition and food insecurity that will be addressed through their mothers as guardians and nutrition providers. The health behaviors identified for this intervention will be mothers using breastfeeding and supplementary nutrition as primary sources of providing children with the necessary nutrients required to prevent such health complications as anemia and infectious diseases.
The next step of the framework is the actual planning of the intervention. Thus, the community intervention’s underpinning objectives include:
- To decrease the number of children currently suffering from malnutrition;
- To enhance parents’ knowledge of the fundamentals of proper nutrition and the value of breastfeeding and supplementary nutrition at a young age;
- To raise the families’ awareness of the federal and community sources that assist food-insecure families both financially and mentally.
As far as the strategy and communication channels are concerned, the most appropriate solution in the context of the ongoing pandemic is to create electronic educational content such as electronic brochures and video content. This content should then be advertised with the help of targeting algorithms of search engines and social media platforms. Thus, the target demographic of young mothers will be presented with a link to a YouTube video or an electronic leaflet with infographics and relevant links to federal nutrition support programs. For the sake of source credibility, it will be of paramount importance to allocate human and financial resources to the cooperation with public organizations that have an existing and relevant social platform.
The third step of the plan concerns program development. During this stage, the resource allocation and the project timeline will be developed. Thus, for example, to implement the project in question, the human resources required for intervention include graphic and motion designers, animators, epidemiologists, pediatrists, and nutritionists able to collect and systematize the intervention content. IT specialists and a project manager who would be in charge of the process will be some of the most important human resources in this case. The approximate timeline, for its part, will include the groundwork, implementation, and evaluation blocks, with each of them lasting for nearly eight weeks.
The fourth, and arguably the most significant, step would be the implementation of the project in question. In this case, the implementation would start by launching the educational advertising campaign by presenting the link to the educational resources to young mothers, especially the ones recently searching for nutrition-related content on the web. The project implementation stage aims at lasting for approximately two months, but it is highly dependent on the project’s financing. Target advertising is an efficient yet costly endeavor, and efficient outcomes of the intervention will require a budget of nearly $500 daily, but such an investment is likely to meet the project objectives mentioned above. The last step of this process is the project evaluation.
To define whether the initiative in question was an efficient community education tool, the evaluation stage is required. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2021), the first aspect of conducting a program evaluation is to engage stakeholders. Thus, it would be necessary to gather the data from all the partners and communities involved, including both the initiative’s creators and its recipients. The data from the target demographic may be collected with the help of a feedback questionnaire. The second step of the evaluation is the description of the product. In this case, the program may be described as an initiative to address the need for better nutrition knowledge among children through online educational intervention for young parents.
The third aspect of the evaluation would concern the means of assessing the efficiency. Thus, considering the purpose of the project, the means of project evaluation may be an independent variable of clicks-per-view for targeted ads and the dependent variable of malnutrition rates. The fourth step, gathering credible evidence, could be performed with the help of analyzing and systematizing the quantitative data from the variables. The conclusions obtained from the initiative would be evaluated and analyzed by third-party specialists who are not invested in the process. The last part of the process, ensuring the use and sharing of results, will be presented in the form of the assessment report. In case this project becomes eligible for further implementation, the performance improvement approach will be the consolidation of public resources to present better and more meaningful assistance for children.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]. (2021). A framework for program evaluation.
Children’s Defense Fund. (2021). The state of America’s children.
DiGirolamo, A. M., Ochaeta, L., & Flores, R. M. M. (2020). Early childhood nutrition and cognitive functioning in childhood and adolescence. Food and Nutrition Bulletin, 41(1), 31-40.
Sharma, M., & Branscum, P. W. (2020). Introduction to community and public health (2nd ed.) [E-book]. Wiley Global Research. Web.
Williams, A. M., & Suchdev, P. S. (2017). Assessing and improving childhood nutrition and growth globally. Pediatric Clinics, 64(4), 755-768.