Through our WellSpot Designation Program, Well-Ahead Louisiana works with centers to help them meet wellness benchmarks. Wellness benchmarks for centers include things like creating incorporating physical activity and encouraging healthy snacks.
Becoming a Child Care Center WellSpot is a great first step to creating a healthier environment for your center. There are many resources that can help your child care center implement WellSpot Benchmarks. Click here to visit our child care center benchmark webpage to learn more. Be sure to visit the child care center resources page for a resources for child care centers!
Healthy eating is necessary for healthy development. That’s why it’s important to offer children healthy food choices; options that will nurture their bodies and fuel brain development. Children form lifelong eating habits based on the foods served to them when they are young. But it’s not just about the foods served — healthy eating habits are influenced by the entire mealtime experience, as well as other learning activities involving food like gardening and taste tests.
Farm to Early Care and Education
Farm to early care and education (Farm2ECE) is a set of strategies and activities that offer increased access to healthy, local foods through local procurement, gardening opportunities, and food and agriculture education activities to enhance the quality of educational experience. These same core elements as Farm to School can be adapted to preschools, child care centers, family child care homes, and Head Start/Early Head Start. Click here to learn more about Louisiana Harvest of the Month Program.
Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)
Participating in Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) can support healthy meals and snacks served in child care centers and family child care homes to nourish young children during critical years of brain growth. The CACFP is a federal program that reimburses participating child care centers, day care homes, and adult day care centers for serving nutritious meals to eligible children and adults in their care.
Fortunately, Louisiana requires that ALL licensed child care centers in the State of Louisiana to follow the USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program meal pattern, as part of the regulatory requirements to operate a center. That means that all children in Louisiana attending a licensed child care center are required to receive the same level of healthy meals and snacks. However, not all eligible child care centers choose to participate in the CACFP, which could be a source of financial support in providing meals and snacks.
Well-Ahead Louisiana partnered with Louisiana Department of Education and Child Care Aware of America to develop a GIS map for CACFP. We hope this map will allow you to picture the opportunities for enhancing our great state. Please take a moment to explore our state’s CACFP participation, and potential for expanded participation, in the context of food access and poverty. Please click the link to view the map - https://arcg.is/8q0HL.
Children naturally get thirsty after playing, sleeping or eating. They can learn to recognize when they are thirsty and can learn to develop a preference for drinking water to quench their thirst. Centers are encouraged to have water available for kids at all times. Water should be served inside and outside, during meals, and be easily accessible throughout the day.
Tips to Make Water Easily Available
- Fill child-size water pitchers and let kids serve themselves.
- Invest in a small portable water cooler for outside use.
- Have small cups available.
- If water fountains are available, allow children to take water breaks or refill water bottles from home.
Since many children are in child care throughout the week, it’s important to provide children daily opportunities to be active in a safe play space. In addition, evidence shows that children who are active tend to have fewer behavioral and disciplinary problems, do better in school, and have longer attention spans in class.
Paint your child care center's playground! Playground stencils are an innovative, low-cost way to improve playgrounds. Playground stencils are designed to create painted playgrounds and enhance outdoor physical activity opportunities for children. Stencils provide an excellent opportunity for children to get physically active and practice developmentally appropriate movement such as balance, loco-motor skills, and spatial awareness. They are reusable and are impacting hundreds of Louisiana children! To learn more about the stencils and how to use them, please view the Painted Playground Toolkit.
Click here to check out how Church Point Elementary School in Acadia Parish painted their playground! Well-Ahead has several playground stencils available. Stencils provide an excellent opportunity for children to get physically active and practice balance, loco-motor skills, and spatial awareness. The Playground Stencil Project is a collaborative effort of Well-Ahead Louisiana, Partners for Healthy Families, Tulane University, and Pennington Biomedical Research Center.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how your child care center can borrow our stencils!
Screen time is any time spent using electronic devices, including TV, videos, DVDs, computers, tablets, video games and handheld devices. Children spend an average of seven hours per day using electronic devices (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2016). For growing bodies and developing minds, it is important to limit screen time use.
Review the Louisiana Screen time Toolkit
This toolkit provides resources your center can use to write, implement and educate on the electronic devices policy and highlights resources for you to review that will help you as you work to limit and reduce screen time in your center. Click here to check it out!
Provide breastfeeding mothers access to a designated area for breastfeeding or pumping, other than a bathroom, with appropriate seating and privacy. It’s ideal to both welcome moms who wish to breastfeed in the classroom, and to provide a private space for those who wish to use it. To learn more about supporting breastfeeding, please visit Partners for Healthy Babies.