A Program of the Alabama Partnership for Children.

Child Health & Wellness

A Program of the Alabama Partnership for Children.

Child Health & Wellness

by smartstart

What is Child Health & Wellness?

The APC understands the importance of health and wellness in early childhood and continuously works with partners on implementing statewide obesity prevention strategies. Two recent efforts of the APC include facilitating the Early Care and Education Learning Collaborative (ECELC) and participating in Healthy Child Care, Healthy Communities.

Early Care & Education Learning Collaborative

From 2015-2018, the APC served as an implementation partner for the National Early Care and Education Learning Collaboratives (ECELC) program managed by Nemours and funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The APC has identified and targeted areas with high rates of obesity for this program, and has (with several partners) trained 106 Early Care and Education (ECE) providers, center- and home-based programs, on how to implement strategies to create environments that foster healthy growth and development. This is a comprehensive approach that focuses primarily on topics related to making changes in physical activity and nutrition policies and procedures. These strategies include in-person trainings on nutrition, physical activity, breastfeeding and limited screen time, as well as customized technical assistance to help ECE providers to meet their goals. Through this program, there are many opportunities for providers to network and discuss their goals with each other, and numerous resources and materials are shared with participants.

During 2019, the APC is expanding the reach of the ECELC, made possible by generous support from DHR, by developing new collaboratives to target the Mobile and Montgomery regions where there are high obesity rates. We are also continuing to engage and provide support to ECE providers in the regions surrounding Tuscaloosa and Jefferson Counties where the APC has formerly provided support, as well as expanding to the Opelika area through a modified version of this program through Nemours’ Healthy Kids, Healthy Future Technical Assistance Program.

Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Stakeholders

The APC works to develop key local, state and national partnerships around obesity prevention to ensure that existing programs and resources that impact ECE programs are including efforts to intentionally and strategically reduce the prevalence of overweight and obesity in young children. With the launch of the ECELC, APC began an Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Stakeholder Group (Stakeholder Group) to organize critical partners in the state to make a much larger impact on state policies and programs. The Stakeholder Group utilizes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Spectrum of Opportunities as a guide and has found this a very effective way to develop partnerships to expand the reach of the program and increase capacity within the state. Members include representatives from state agencies, organizations that provide resources and trainings to ECE providers, child advocacy organizations, ECE providers and others. The Stakeholder Group convenes quarterly to identify potential areas of improvement to build support and collaboration.

Online Go NAPSACC Program

The APC was awarded a two-year license to implement the online Go NAPSACC Program (Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Child Care) in Alabama. Any Early Care and Education program in Alabama can participate in this online self-assessment and action planning tool to support the implementation of healthy environments for young children.

The assessments include:

  • Child Nutrition
  • Breastfeeding and Infant Feeding
  • Infant and Child Physical Activity
  • Outdoor Play and Learning
  • Screen Time
  • Farm to ECE
  • Oral Health

­Alabama Breastfeeding Friendly Child Care Initiative

The APC and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System have teamed up to provide trainings, technical assistance, tools and resources to ensure providers are equipped to support breastfeeding moms and are trained to properly handle breast milk. Returning to work after having a baby is often difficult and stressful. Supporting families in their decision to continue breastfeeding is one way Early Care and Education programs can ease the transition of returning to work! By ECE programs sharing knowledge and support of breastfeeding with families, they can help improve the health and wellbeing of the children in their care.

­Child and Adult Care Food Program Outreach and Promotion

The APC is a strong supporter of the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) and recognizes the importance of full utilization of the program in Alabama amongst Early Care and Education providers. The APC sees CACFP as a necessary tool to combat child hunger and food insecurity, especially for our youngest and most vulnerable population. We know that child care providers have a powerful impact on children ages zero to five in helping them develop healthy eating habits, and participation in CACFP places ECE programs in a better position to create healthier eating environments and menus.

­Farm to Early Care and Education

The Alabama Farm to ECE Coalition strives to create more equitable access to healthy foods for children, families and ECE providers while building new markets for small farmers to sell their produce. The Coalition cultivates and activates community-informed solutions that build local and statewide capacity and infrastructure to support local food sourcing, gardening and food and agriculture education in all ECE programs, regardless of geographic location, program type or socioeconomic status of families served. With the support of Child Care Aware® of America through their Healthy Child Care, Healthy Communities Project, the APC and other state partners finalized the three-year Alabama Farm to ECE Coalition Strategic Plan in January 2019.

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