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Early Care and Education

It is during childhood that children are more willing to try new actions. Physical activity promotes healthy growth and development ranging from stronger bones and muscles to improving gross or fine motor skills. Physical activities should be integrated into young learners’ lives to not only create a foundation of movement, but also help carry them into a more physically and emotionally healthy adulthood. Benefits also include school readiness, reducing depression and anxiety, building self-confidence and improving coordination and concentration. Early child care education settings have a vital role in creating these active environments that encourage movement.

The Child and Adult Care Food Program  (CACFP) plays a vital role in improving the quality of day care and making it more affordable for many low-income families. Each day, 3.2 million children receive nutritious meals and snacks through CACFP. CACFP reaches even further to provide meals to children residing in emergency shelters and snacks and suppers to youths participating in eligible after-school care programs.

IDOE’s Resource Guide for Nutrition Education and Physical Activity Tips and ideas on how to develop healthy habits with nutrition and physical activity.  

ISDH 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.

Early Care and Education

ISDH is working with targeted child care centers and trainers to implement Let’s Move Child Care physical activity goals based on best practices. Resources include physical activity strategies for preschoolers, toddlers and babies. For more information about Let’s Move Child Care, visit https://healthykidshealthyfuture.org/.

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 Care and Education Resources

My Plate

  • Provides information on growth during the preschool years
  • What kinds of nutrition does a preschooler need?
    • Information regarding gender, activity level and calorie counts

Wellness Policies for Early Childhood Education: 

Legal and policy approaches can be important tools for achieving healthier communities. The report The Role of Law and Policy in Achieving the Healthy People 2020 Nutrition and Weight Status Goals of Increased Fruit and Vegetable Intake in the United States provides evidence-based information and identifies priority areas that can help communities achieve Healthy People 2020 objectives.

This Bright Spot describes how the state of Georgia is improving nutrition and fitness in child care centers. If you are an ECE provider and are interested in writing a policy that best fits your environment and children, please contact pfriday@isdh.in.gov for technical assistance. 

Resources for ECE providers: 

Healthy Kids, Healthy Future: 
Resources for Best Practices concerning increasing physical activity, reducing screen time, improving food choices, providing healthy beverages and support breastfeeding

Other Resources: 

Penelope Friday, Childhood Obesity Prevention Coordinator
(317) 232-3155
Contact for Early Care and Education