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Boston’s Public Health Commission Healthy Child Care Initiative

As part of the Boston Public Health Commission, the Boston Healthy Child Care Initiative (BHCCI) is helping programs implement best approaches to support healthy eating and physical activity for young children using evidence-based practices, including Let’s Move! Child Care.

Since 2012, Boston has offered providers training and funding to improve their practices around the Let’s Move! Child Care goals. Child care providers from centers and family child care homes are invited to attend free two-part workshops that cover nutrition and physical activity based on the Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Child Care, offered in both English and Spanish. The providers can earn child care educator continuing education units through the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care. Then, using the Let’s Move! Child Care Checklist Quiz, they can create an action plan and set their own goals for improvement for the next 3-6 months.

Sixteen child care providers were recently honored with the Mayor’s Boston Healthy Child Care Recognition Award for achieving eight Let’s Move! Child Care best-practices for fruits and vegetable intake, screen-time reduction, infant feeding, and physical activity.  Here are success stories from 3 of the recognized child care programs:

Cribs and Cradle Family Child Care, Dorchester, MA

Staff from Cribs and Cradle Family Child Care pose for Mayor’s Boston Healthy Child Care Recognition Award (Boston Public Health Commission).

At Cribs and Cradle Family Childcare, great improvements have been made in the area of nutrition and physical activity since participating in the Boston Healthy Childcare Initiative. Director Claudette White immediately started to implement healthy changes. Prior to the workshop, the television was turned on daily. Now, the center provides structured activity time and increased outdoor play, games and crafts. The children are more physically active and enjoy quality television viewing just once a week for 30 minutes. In addition, Claudette increased outdoor play to 2 times per day for 45 minutes each. When the weather keeps the children indoors, Claudette uses toys/games that keep the children moving.

Claudette has also made changes in the way the kids are eating by replacing refined grains with whole grains twice each day and offering veggies twice a day. Meals are served family style with staff sitting at the table and eating the same foods as the children. In addition, holidays and birthdays are celebrated with healthier food choices, such as fruit salad, bite size sandwiches, cheese cubes, or vegetables and dip.

Paradise Family Day Care, Hyde Park, MA

Paradise Family Day Care owner and staff receive Mayor’s Boston Healthy Child Care Recognition Award (Boston Public Health Commission).

Paradise Family Day Care owner Mencia Quinonez has made great improvements in her family childcare program. She dedicated a small room in her family daycare to provide a private space for moms who choose to breastfeed, and with the help of Boston Public Health Commission staff, she transformed the room by adding pillows, a lamp for additional lighting, and breastfeeding posters. In addition, breastfeeding brochures obtained from the local WIC office provide additional information and resources.

S.M.I.L.E. Preschool, Roxbury, MA

SMILE Preschool staff receive Mayor’s Boston Healthy Child Care Recognition Award (Boston Public Health Commission).

At S.M.I.L.E. Preschool, staff has decreased the amount of sugar kids are consuming by serving 100% juice only twice a week. On the other days, fruit is provided. Chocolate milk has been replaced with low-fat milk. In addition, sweetened snacks have been replaced with more fresh fruits, yogurt, and whole grain products.  And, water is now available and visible to children throughout the day, thanks to a staffer who found extra pitchers in a storage closet!  And lastly, an underutilized room was turned into a space for breastfeeding mothers.