At A Glance
The North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) and Child Care Aware of North Dakota are working to increase access to healthy eating and physical activity options for young children. Each year, the team works with 25 new child care facilities to set up healthy program initiatives. Each facility works with a Child Care Aware consultant to complete a best practice assessment and make improvements to nutrition and physical activity options. As a result, 1,473 young children have access to improved physical activity or healthy eating environments.
Public Health Challenge
According to North Dakota WIC program statistics—approximately 30% of children aged 2 to 4 years—who participate in WIC programs are overweight or obese. WIC serves about 65% of the state’s resident births. In addition, child care availability is also a struggle in North Dakota. Many parents join long waiting lists as soon as they are pregnant in hopes of finding a licensed provider. Therefore, competition between providers is not high. It is rarely an incentive for licensed centers to make healthy eating or physical activity changes.
Find Out More
To learn more about Child Care Aware of North Dakota, visit http://ndchildcare.org/.This project is supported by the State Public Health Actions to Prevent and Control Diabetes, Heart Disease, Obesity, and Associated Risk Factors and Promote School Health cooperative agreement (DP13-1305).
At the center I worked with, parents were very excited that the infant or toddler classrooms were going to start offering healthier snack options. Before the program, staff offered cookies, chips, fruit snacks, and other not so healthy snack options.
NDDoH is partnering with Child Care Aware of North Dakota, a nonprofit organization helping families find quality, affordable child care to help 100 early child care and education facilities (ECEs) over 4 years to improve their healthy eating and physical activity options for young children. ECEs are using an evidence-based assessment tool to identify areas to improve based on best practice standards. The tool offers ECEs educational resources to help providers identify and make healthy eating and physical activity improvements. Two examples of these changes could include increasing active play time and serving children fruits and vegetables during mealtime, to name a few.
NDDoH and Child Care Aware of North Dakota will continue to support 25 new ECE sites each year. Efforts will continue to expand into more rural areas. Past and current ECE providers receive a Child Care Alive e-newsletter on a monthly basis that encourages Healthy Living best practices. If an ECE reaches out to Child Care Aware of North Dakota after participating in the project, they will continue to provide technical assistance to them face to face, over the phone, or through email. NDDoH is also exploring ways to determine program sustainability and expand to other ECEs.