"Fostering" Health and Nutrition: Targeting Family-Level Risk Factors for Young Foster Children in Substitute Care

Overview

Children who have a history of abuse, neglect, and trauma are at a high risk for obesity. Once placed in foster care, their risk may not be diminished as foster families might be at an even higher risk for sustaining obesity rates due to additional challenges not faced in the general public: caring for traumatized children with emotional and behavioral problems, caring for a greater number of children than the average family, and child feelings of isolation that comes with integrating into a new home away from birth parents. No intervention to date has attempted to respond to these unique needs. The aim of Fostering Health and Nutrition will be to develop and pilot a culturally sensitive health and nutritional program for foster parents and preschool aged children in the state of Illinois. The study approach will be to target family-level factors affecting poor nutrition and exercise and develop new programs to increase family consumption of fruits and vegetables, decrease the consumption of energy dense foods, improve nutritional education, improve family cohesion and foster youth integration into family, and decrease youth emotional and behavioral problems. The study will target family-level factors affecting poor nutrition and exercise in the hopes of developing interventions to increase family consumption of fruits and vegetables, decrease the consumption of energy dense foods, improve nutritional education, improve family cohesion and support youth integration into the family, and decrease youth behavioral problems.

Research Team

  • Jesse Helton, PhD, Research Assistant Professor, Children and Family Research Center, School of Social Work
  • Barbara Fiese, PhD, Professor and Director, Family Resiliency Center
  • April Diaz, MSW Graduate Student

Funding

This project was funded by the Christopher Family Foundation Food and Family Program.

Contact

Jesse J. Helton
Principal Investigator
Phone: 217-244-3016
Email: jhelton2@illinois.edu