Child care providers play an essential role in the development and well-being of young children. However, the demanding nature of the job coupled with low wages may negatively affect their physical health, emotional well-being and overall quality of life. It is important for child care providers to prioritize self-care and wellness to ensure they are able to provide the best care possible for the children and families they serve. Child Care Resource and Referral agencies (CCR&Rs) can offer the support providers need to care for themselves while they care for everyone else.
Child Care Aware® of America (CCAoA) worked with CCR&Rs participating in its Vroom® Community of Practice to create virtual or in-person Wellness Corners; CCR&Rs across the country provided a variety of wellness programming, from outreach events and self-care sessions to virtual spaces with self-care resources.
CCR&Rs Supporting Provider Wellness and Offering Opportunities for Self-Care
Brightside Up in New York created an innovative 30-day, interactive, online self-care calendar with simple activities and ideas that support wellness. The calendar provided six types of self-care tips to guide providers toward holistic wellness:
- PHYSICAL: taking care of one’s body, including eating nutritious meals, exercising, drinking water, getting adequate sleep and receiving routine general medical care.
- EMOTIONAL: identifying, processing and communicating feelings and emotions in a healthy way.
- PSYCHOLOGICAL: creating a space for reflection through journaling, taking time to sit with one’s feelings and processing thoughts with a trusted person.
- SPIRITUAL: connecting to one’s faith, participating in activities that allow one to think outside of themselves or spending time in nature.
- RELATIONAL: fostering intentional, meaningful relationships with other people.
- PROFESSIONAL: maintaining a work life balance that allows one to function at work and at home with less stress.
Additionally, Brightside Up promotes self-care and rejuvenation throughout the year at their in-person Self-Care Saturday events, which include a healthy breakfast and activities that help providers relax, recharge and boost their well-being.
Link CCR&R of West Virginia created a luau themed wellness corner in their agency lobby as part of its Provider Appreciation Day activities and celebrations. Providers enjoyed snapping photos in front of a beachy backdrop and received wellness-promoting giveaways. Giveaways included items such as crib sheets, a handwashing timer, diaper changing pads, and a folder of resources including a self-care challenge, a wellness in child care handout, and brain-building tips for creating calm moments at home. Link CCR&R also included a Vroom App card with information on how to access free, science-based tips that make it simple for providers to boost children’s learning wherever they are during everyday moments and routines. Providers also had the opportunity to sign up for multiple self-care and wellness training opportunities with an exciting incentive – every provider who attended a session would be entered into a drawing to win a sensory tub full of different learning toys including a tabletop art easel, magnets, paint dabbers, glue sticks, puppet stand, fine motor toys, magnifying glasses and a Vroom tip card ring! Link CCR&R shared that having a wellness corner provided opportunities to build better relationships with providers who attended.
PATCH (People Attentive to Children) in Hawaii brought providers together through networking events throughout the state to help them connect with others, participate in fun and engaging activities and learn about self-care.
- Cooking Demo: Providers were invited to join a cooking demo with an Executive Chef at Roy's Waikiki restaurant. Each provider was given a blank recipe book to write down what they learned. Providers loved the experience!
- Art Class: Providers enjoyed engaging in a fluid art class along with their peers hosted at Hawaii Fluid Art – A Place to Create! Each provider chose their own colors and made their own canvases. Providers appreciated doing a fun project and getting to connect with other providers in person.
- Mental Health Session: PATCH also invited a clinical psychologist to join a learning community meeting to speak to providers about mental health caregiving for both themselves and the children in their care.
PATCH discovered that when providers engage in these special events and have a joyful experience, they tend to continue to come back to the CCR&R’s networking sessions.
Ideas for Creating a Wellness Corner for Providers
There are many ways CCR&Rs can support provider wellness. It’s always great to start by learning about the unique needs of the providers in your community to determine where you can provide the best support. Some initial ideas may include sharing supportive resources, tips, tools and activities that promote wellness in spaces providers already frequent, including lobby areas, bulletin boards, training rooms, resource libraries, online networking sites, CCR&R webpages, networking sessions and outreach events. Below is a list of ideas to help get you started in creating a wellness corner for providers in your community.
Resources and Giveaways
- Guidance for breathing exercises
- Mental health resources
- CCAoA’s Wellness in Child Care Resource
- CCAoA’s Self-Care Challenge Resource
- Fidget toys
- Mini lending library of books for providers
- Ideas for stretching exercises
- Ideas for unplugging
- Meditation/relaxation/mindfulness playlists
- Coupons for spa services, fitness classes or other activities that promote wellness
- Affirmation jars
- Journaling prompts and materials
- Better sleep tips
- Small plants or packets of seeds
- Create a Healthy Selfie Challenge – invite providers to snap a selfie to show ways they are working toward wellness.
- Host a fitness class.
- Organize a gratitude challenge encouraging providers to reflect and record daily what they are grateful for.
- Bring in massage chairs.
- Hold a lunch and learn.
- Arrange a cooking demonstration.
- Incorporate wellness activities such as breathing exercises and journaling prompts into professional development and networking sessions.
- Organize a water challenge for better hydration.
- Coordinate a step challenge.
- Partner with a business to host a meal.
- Invite guest speakers to speak about health and wellness topics.
For more information on supporting a healthy child care workforce, visit Healthy Child Care - Child Care Aware® of America. For tips and resources that support learning and well-being for children and child care providers, visit GrowYoungBrains.org.