The Department of Health recommends that all children aged one to four years are given a daily supplement in the form of Vitamin Drops. Some families may be eligible for the Healthy Start scheme, which means they are entitled to free child Vitamin Drops. It is important for health and early years professionals to promote the scheme to those eligible. Healthy Start vitamins contain Vitamins A, C and D
- 8% of children under 5 in the UK are not receiving enough Vitamin A
- Families on lower incomes tend to have less Vitamin C in their diet
- It is difficult to get enough Vitamin D from the diet alone
What is Healthy Start?
The scheme ensures that families who are most in need of this support, can access FREE milk, fresh fruit and vegetables along with vitamin drops to improve nutritional status. Those from lower social economic backgrounds may face health inequalities resulting in poor health outcomes. Evidence shows that consumption of fruit and vegetables are lower in families from lower social economic backgrounds, than from more wealthier backgrounds.
- If you are pregnant you get one voucher a week worth £3.10
- For each baby under the age of one, you get two vouchers a week worth a total of £6.20
- For each child age over one and under four, your family gets one voucher a week worth £3.10
The money vouchers can be exchanged or spent on:
- plain cow’s milk – whole, semi-skimmed or skimmed. It can be pasteurised, sterilised, long life or UHT
- fruit and vegetable- plain fresh or frozen (fruit and vegetables with no added ingredients), whole or chopped, packaged or loose
- infant formula milk that says it can be used from birth and is based on cow’s milk.
- The vitamin voucher is in addition to the milk, fruit & veg vouchers
Where can they be used?
Parents and carers receiving Healthy Start food vouchers should be offered information on how to use them to increase the amount of fruit and vegetables in their family’s diet. The Healthy Start website details local retailers that accept the Healthy Start vouchers, based on the families address https://www.healthystart.nhs.uk/
- At local shops and greengrocers
- Corner shops
- Food co-ops
- Market stalls
- Milk floats or vans
Healthy Start Vitamin Drops are distributed through primary care trusts. Vitamins are suitable for vegetarians and free from wheat, fish, egg, salt. No colours, flavours or preservatives are used and they do not contain gluten.
Who qualifies for Healthy Start?
- Those you are least 10 weeks pregnancy
- Have a child under four years old and you or your family get:
- Income Support, or
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, or
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, or
- Child Tax Credit (with a family income of £16,190 or less per year
- Universal Credit (with a family take home pay of £408 0r less per month)
- Women also qualify during the whole of their pregnancy if they are under 18 years old when they apply, even if they don’t get any of the above benefits or tax credits
How to support families?
Ensure you have copies of the Healthy Start booklets at your setting. Download the booklet and other resources at: https://www.healthystart.nhs.uk/for-health-professionals/healthy-start-resources/
Explain to families why vitamins are needed and at what age they should be giving them to their child. The Department of Health recommends that:
- Breastfed babies from birth to one year of age should be given a daily supplement containing 8.5 to 10mcg of vitamin D, to make sure they get enough.
- Babies fed infant formula should not be given a vitamin D supplement until they are receiving less than 500ml/17oz (about a pint) of infant formula a day, because infant formula is fortified with vitamin D. Parents can speak to their GP, Pharmacist or HV to discuss requirements.
- All Children aged 1 to 4 years old should be given a daily supplement containing 10mcg of vitamin D
- Explain to families how they obtain Healthy Start vitamin vouchers, how long it will take to receive the then and the qualifying criteria
- Support families to fill in the application form if they have all their details with them so it is ready for the signatory (by a Health Care Professional, HV/GP/Midwife) if not help them to fill in as much of the form as possible- parents can take it home to add national insurance numbers etc.
- Check that the families have the following details: full names, address, postcode, date of birth, telephone number, children names, date of birth, the national insurance numbers of mum & dad, and know a list of the benefits they are receiving.
- The clients must sign the application forms and it MUST also be signed by a Health professional before being posted – refer families to their GP, Midwife or Health Visitor to get the forms signed.
- Money vouchers are posted out every four weeks and every eight weeks, beneficiaries also get green vitamin coupons with their vouchers, which they can swap for Healthy Start vitamins in their local area. The coupons are either for Healthy Start women’s tablets or Healthy Start children’s drops.
A display board in your setting or an information folder is a great way to share the information above with families and ensuring those that qualify are aware of this important scheme