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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  nap sacc

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 screen time. 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).

Nibbles for Health are nutrition newsletters by the USDA that can be used by ECE providers, especially those participating in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), to communicate information to parents and caregivers about topics such as encouraging vegetables, limiting added sugars, and sources of salty foods. Newsletters are available in both English and Spanish.

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.

Healthy Kids, Healthy Future:

Resources for Best Practices concerning increasing physical activity, reducing screen time, improving food choices, providing healthy beverages and supporting breastfeeding

Farm to Early Care and Education farm 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.

Additional Resources for ECE providers:


Kayliegh Holsapple, Early Care and Education Coordinator
(317) 234-0112
Contact for: Early Care and Education

Brianna Goode, Farm to School Coordinator
(317) 232-0456
Contact for: Farm to School