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Coming in July :
A free online training course covering the Let’s Move! Healthy Eating beverage and food goals. Those completing the training will receive one STARS continuing education hour in Health, Safety & Nutrition. The training is currently being pilot tested in 20 early childhood education sites. Future trainings are planned covering the Let’s Move! Infant Feeding and Physical Activity guidelines. To access the training in July, visit the Washington Department of Early Learning’s training site and search on “Let’s Move.”
The St. James Family Center won recognition for meeting all of the goals of Let’s Move! Child Care, the national initiative to prevent obesity in young children. The only licensed child care center in Wahkiakum County, St. James offers a range of programs including child care, kindercare and afterschool care for children ages 2½ to 12. In addition, the Center hosts family support services and a family violence shelter. The Center’s mission is to strengthen families by promoting self-sufficiency, life-long learning and healthy living. While they are aligned to the St. James Episcopal Church in Cathlamet, all family center programs are non-religious and everyone in the community is welcome to participate.
“It didn’t take long to complete the Let’s Move! process,” says Esther Mendez, the child care coordinator for St. James. “We printed out the online checklist and checked off all of the things we were already doing. Then we could see where we didn’t quite meet the goals.” Mendez worked with center director Beth Hansen, the health care coordinator, and the cook to make the needed changes. The cook revised menu plans to eliminate fried foods. Mendez recalls that they also reduced screen time for the children from one hour per week to 30 minutes. Hansen says, “Another thing we had to do was increase the amount of outside play time. We are fortunate to have a large covered outdoor play area, so children can have active play even when it is raining.”
During the process, the full staff and board of the St. James Center were kept informed, and parents learned about the changes through monthly newsletters. When they received their certificate in December 2011, the Center issued a press release to the local media and posted the certificate by the front door.
Hansen recommends this process to other child care centers. “It was a valuable self-assessment process, and it helps us to keep the goals for healthy eating and active play front and center,” she says. Mendez agrees and adds that the process is simple and easy. “The checklist gives you the goals and tells you how to follow them,” she says. “The action plan is already outlined and you can choose a deadline that works for you.”
Featured: March 2013
Child Care Centers