All children deserve to live their healthiest life, but not all children have access to the things they need to do so. At Child Care Aware® of America, we know the importance of you, the child care resource and referral (CCR&R) agencies—how you shape the way parents engage with providers and provide the child care workforce with training that supports children and families. That’s why we’re providing the tools you need to advocate, innovate and create healthier communities. We want to ensure that children who may not have access to healthy food or active play at home, still have the chance to get that access elsewhere in their community.
Common Challenges to Healthy Living
Access to affordable healthy food can help with social emotional and brain development, but some communities have a harder time getting healthy food—either because they don’t have a store in their area that sells fresh and healthy foods, because parents work long hours and it’s not convenient or feasible to cook fresh food.
Likewise, physical activity or active play is important at a young age in keeping the body healthy and preventing the development of chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, etc.--but not all children have adults who can teach them games and sports or have spaces large enough to play and run around.
By giving child care providers training and support to buy and serve healthy foods, we can make sure that children in communities where fresh food is not as available get at least one or two meals per day that help them build strong bodies and get ready to for school.
When child care providers build in active play as part of their day both indoors and outdoors, they teach kids games and activities that help keep their bodies healthy no matter where they are! And if a child lives in a place where outdoor play is not safe, having the opportunity to do so during their day is even more important.
One thing we’ve done at CCAoA to build health advocacy programs with your help is that show which communities might benefit most from nutrition and active play supports. We partner with CCR&Rs to develop these maps; we can also help you use them to determine which communities in your state or city need training and support on certain topics. We can also work with you to develop those trainings.
Another impactful health promotion opportunity might be through parent, family and community engagement. Take nutrition, for example. Food is deeply cultural; offering different ways for family engagement around meals can bridge family and child care food cultures. We often work with CCR&Rs to develop messages and consumer education resources about topics you’d like to promote in your region, like active play and nutrition. You can use this language to help parents start thinking about these kinds of issues while they search for child care. Check our sample website language here.
Finally, investing in training and resources for child care providers that help children have rich experiences with food and to have opportunities to build strong bodies through play are critical. That’s why it’s so important to support policies that require these opportunities be available to all child care communities. See what training exists in your community and explore what policies your centers or family child care homes have in place now. If you aren’t satisfied with what you see, reach out to us and we can suggest trainings that you can host for providers in your area.
As a child care professionals we are passionate about helping grow and shape young children—and we know you are, too! Together, let’s extend our passion to help all children grow up strong and healthy.