Early Care and Education
Physical activity and nutrition in early childhood produce many health benefits that promote growth and development such as stronger bones, more robust immune systems, and improved motor development, just to name a few. Physical activity and nutrition education should be integrated into young learners’ lives to create a foundation of lifelong movement and nutritious eating that will carry them into a more physically and emotionally healthy adulthood. Early care and education (ECE) settings play a vital role in creating health-promoting environments where children are encouraged to move and explore nutritious foods. These wellness efforts in ECE settings will also improve students’ self-confidence, coordination, cognition, and concentration that will increase their school readiness.
Early Care and Education Resources
Go NAPSACC is a trusted online tool that helps childcare programs go the extra mile to support children’s healthy eating and physical activity. Providers can use Go NAPSACC to assess their current health practices, environments, and policies and receive personalized action plans along with trainings and resources to make their ECE setting healthier. Go NAPSACC focuses on child nutrition, breastfeeding and infant feeding, farm to ECE, oral health, infant and child physical activity, outdoor play and learning, and screentime. Complete this survey to receive a registration code to make a free Go NAPSACC account!
The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is a federal program administered by the Indiana Department of Education in the state of Indiana that provides reimbursements for nutritious meals and snacks to eligible children and adults who are enrolled for care at participating child care centers, ministries, and homes. CACFP plays a vital role in improving the quality of enrolled ECE settings making it more affordable for many low-income families. CACFP also reaches even farther to provide meals to children residing in emergency shelters and snacks and dinner to youths participating in eligible after-school care programs.
IDOH is partnering with the Indy Hunger Network to offer a series of Cooking Matters for Families classes in Head Starts and other ECE locations throughout the Marion County region. These courses inspire families to make healthy, affordable food choices, and teach parents and caregivers with limited food budgets how to shop for and cook healthy meals.
Best Practices for Physical Activity: A Guide to Help Children Grow Up Healthy: This guide provides the best practices for infants, toddlers, preschoolers and school-age children. When children are physically active on a daily basis, not only are they more effective learners, but they also are less likely to be overweight or obese.
Early Learning Indiana provides childcare resources for families, childcare providers and communities.
Healthy Kids, Healthy Future provides resources for childcare and early education providers to help children develop healthy habits for life.
My Plate provides information on growth during the preschool years (information regarding gender, activity level and calorie counts, as well as nutritional needs).
Wellness Policies for Early Childhood Education:
This Bright Spot describes how the state of Georgia is improving nutrition and fitness in childcare centers, and Georgia’s Growing Fit Kit provides great information about writing ECE wellness policies. If you are an ECE provider and are interested in writing a policy that best fits your environment and children, please contact email@example.com for technical assistance.
Healthy Kids, Healthy Future:
Resources for Best Practices concerning increasing physical activity, reducing screen time, improving food choices, providing healthy beverages and supporting breastfeeding
- Key Resource: Checklist Quiz that helps providers assess how well they are currently meeting best practices and includes information on how to develop an action plan for making improvements
- Best Practices for Physical Activity Guide
Farm to Early Care and Education
Farm to Early Care and Education (F2ECE) is a nationally recognized tool for teaching students about agriculture and nutrition, engaging in gardening, and supporting local economies through the purchasing of local foods. Supported by IDOH and the Indiana Grown for Schools Network, F2ECE programming works with you to expand activities and offerings, while laying foundational knowledge and experiences for life-long, healthy habits.
- Indiana Grown for Schools Website
- Farm to Early Care and Education Toolkit
- National Farm to School Network & Resources
Additional Resources for ECE providers:
- ECE Movement Flyer
- Physical Health and Growth Foundation
- Growing Up Healthy
- Early Childhood Play at Home Playbook
- Food and Drinks for 6 to 24 months old
- Dietary Recommendations for Healthy Children
- Indiana’s Early Learning Foundations
- Paths to QUALITY
- CDC Report: The Association Between School-based Physical Activity, Including Physical Education, and Academic Performance
Jenna Sperry, Child Wellness Coordinator
Contact for Early Care and Education
Brianna Goode, Farm to School Coordinator
Contact for: Farm to School