WellSpot Benchmarks for Child Care Centers

Modeling a Healthy Future

Healthy Employees Lead to Healthy Children

Child care centers can create healthy behaviors in children from infancy. Children who have proper nutrition and physical activity from birth to four years of age will be better prepared for success when they begin school.

By implementing changes to improve the health of your employees through our WellSpot Designation program, child care centers are equipped to play a role in positively impacting the health of the children they serve and even influence the greater community. We support your center by providing the resources and tools you need to encourage healthy habits like physical activity, healthy eating, stress management and quitting tobacco. Not only do these activities improve the health of your staff, but by modeling these habits, you are also impacting the health of the children—today and for their future. 

Child care centers that meet certain benchmarks can be designated as a Level 1, 2 or 3 WellSpot, with Level 1 being the highest.

Level 3

  • Tobacco-free policy
  • Three additional benchmarks of choice

Level 2

  • Tobacco-free policy
  • Go NAPSACC assessment & action plan
  • Seven additional benchmarks of choice

Level 1

  • Tobacco-free policy
  • All benchmarks met
WellSpot Benchmarks for a Healthier Child Care Center

Health Standards for Child Care Centers

Well-Ahead is here to help you be leader by becoming a WellSpot. This helps ensure that the children in your care have a healthy environment to learn, while at the same time positively impacting the health of your employees. When you implement these evidence-based benchmarks, you will improve the health of your staff and children and move Louisiana’s health forward!

You can register to become a WellSpot. Take the assessment to begin.

Parents and caregivers have been identified as the main sources of tobacco smoke exposure to children. By implementing a Tobacco-Free Policy, you can reduce exposure to smoke and the danger it presents to your staff and children. 

A Tobacco-Free Policy prohibits the use of all forms of tobacco products on your child care center’s property, including parking lots and company vehicles. For properties that are leased, the policy must cover 25 feet from each entry point of the facility.

Required Documentation:
Copy of policy.

By promoting free cessation services to your employees, you are doing your part to help fight the leading cause of preventable death and the source of many chronic diseases and conditions that cause long-term suffering.1,2

You can promote your own in-house cessation programs (if applicable) or the Louisiana Tobacco Quitline. The Quitline is a free cessation resource that links individuals who want to quit using tobacco with trained specialists through phone counseling, web support or both.

Required Documentation:
Written description or pictures of ways in which the LA Tobacco Quitline or other service is promoted.

Federal law requires employers to provide breastfeeding employees with time and a space to express milk. Implementing this benchmark enables you to comply with this law. It can also lead to savings through the retention of your valued employees, reduction of sick time taken, and lower healthcare and insurance costs.3

Even better, providing lactation accommodations in child care centers doesn’t require many resources to implement. Employees simply need reasonable break times, a private space and employer support.

Required Documentation:
Well-Ahead will verify this benchmark is met with the Louisiana Breastfeeding Coalition.

A worksite wellness program is an employee-centered approach to improving health outcomes, health behaviors, productivity and morale in the workplace. Offering wellness activities can provide employees with the opportunity to improve their health, reduce their risk of chronic disease and lower their healthcare costs. For child care centers, that can mean increased productivity and profit. Worksite wellness programs can also be implemented at little to no cost while creating an environment that helps move Louisiana’s health forward. 

Beginning Implementation starts with management support, designating a program coordinator and completing an employee assessment.

Required Documentation:
Letter from management indicating support for a worksite wellness program Name of the designated staff person to lead the program Brief description of worksite/employee assessments planned, in progress, or completed

Once the employee assessment phase has been completed, you can then move onto the second worksite wellness benchmark for WellSpot designation – Partial Implementation. At this stage, the assessment results will be used to develop a work plan of activities or programs to encourage healthy behaviors surrounding physical activity, nutrition, tobacco cessation and mental health.

Required Documentation:
Copy of wellness work plan or calendar of events specific to the organization, reflective of assessment results, and including activity descriptions related to physical activity, nutrition, tobacco cessation and mental health.

Once you have developed a worksite wellness plan, continue to encourage and motivate your employees as you implement the plan. To meet the full implementation benchmark, perform an assessment after one year to evaluate the impact of the program. 

Required Documentation:
Description of how annual program evaluation was conducted or copy of annual evaluation results.

By promoting self-assessment tools, you can help your employees better understand their health and reduce the risk diabetes and heart disease. As a result, your employees will miss less work due to illness or hospitalization and have lower healthcare costs. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 108 million Americans have high blood pressure and more than 30 million Americans have diabetes.4,5 Encourage your employees to take the self-assessments to have a better understanding of their health.

Please note that these evidence-based self-assessments have been developed by national partners and should not be used in place of a visit to a healthcare provider.

Self-Assessment Tools for Heart Health:

My Life Check by American Heart Association

Heart Age Predictor Using BMI by CDC

Sample Communication to Promote Heart Health Self-Assessments 

Self-Assessment Tools for Prediabetes:

Prediabetes Risk Test by CDC, AMA, ADA and Ad Council

Sample Communication to Promote Prediabetes Self-Assessment

Required Documentation:
Written description or pictures of ways in which the self-assessment tools are promoted.

Healthy snacking is essential to promoting wellness and providing the best nutrients for health, energy and productivity. With more than 36% of Louisiana residents considered obese, accessibility to nutritious snack options that are low in calories, fat, sugar and sodium can change the way your employees, patients and visitors snack and help improve their overall health.6

You can make the healthy choice the easy choice when it comes to selecting snacks and beverages for vending machines at your facility. 

In order to meet this benchmark, at least 50% of snacks and beverages you provide to employees (including each vending machine) must meet one of the approved healthy vending guidelines provided at these links:

Required Documentation:
Inventory of vending machine or snack options from vendor (with nutritional information if available) or picture of vending machine (if nutritional information is posted on the machine).

Go NAPSACC (Nutrition And Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Child Care) helps improve the health of young children through practices, policies and environments that instill habits supporting lifelong health and well-being. This evidence-based online tool provides child care centers with access to NAPSACC’s easy-to-use best practice modules for addressing topics essential to the health of today’s young children.

To meet this benchmark, you will need to assess your current practices using Go NAPSACC standards and then create an action plan for change.

Required Documentation:
Copy of assessment results and action plan from the past 6-month period. Assessment and action plan should include at least one Go NAPSACC best practice module.

Go NAPSACC (Nutrition And Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Child Care) helps improve the health of young children through practices, policies, and environments that instill habits supporting lifelong health and well-being. This evidence-based online tool provides child care centers with access to NAPSACC’s easy-to-use best practice modules for addressing topics essential to the health of today’s young children. 

Once you have assessed your current practices and created your action plan, you’re ready to take the next step: Take Action, Learn More. You will need to fully implement at least one of the Go NAPSACC best practice modules. The process also involves participating in online trainings to get clear and practical advice for improving practices in their programs.

Required Documentation:
Evidence of component implementation. This can be a completed Go NAPSACC Action Plan and/or pictures of how action plan has been implemented.

Go NAPSACC (Nutrition And Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Child Care) is an evidence-based online tool for improving the health of young children through practices, policies, and environments that instill habits supporting lifelong health and well-being. The program allows providers to focus on any of the seven best practice modules for addressing topics essential to the health of today’s young children.

At this point, you should have assessed, planned and implemented at least one of the Go NAPSACC best practice modules. Now is the time to build on this success. You need to make additional healthy changes by implementing at least three additional best practice modules, for a total of four modules implemented.

Required Documentation:
Evidence of component implementation. This can be a completed Go NAPSACC Action Plan and/or pictures of how action plan has been implemented.

Children form lifelong eating habits based on the foods served to them when they are young. And since healthy eating is necessary for healthy development, it’s essential for your facility to offer healthy food choices that will nurture a child’s body and fuel brain development. 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. 

By implementing this benchmark, you effectively improve your nutrition standards to nurture Louisiana children to become healthy eaters. Meeting this benchmark requires implementing at least three of the following:

  • Participate in the USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program, if eligible. 
  • Make clean drinking water visible and available inside and outside for self-serve at all times.
  • Provide water at every meal and never offer sugary drinks (sports drinks, sweet tea, and soda). 
  • Limit serving fruit juice to no more than 4-6 ounces per week or less, when serving juice ensure it is 100% fruit juice.
  • Serve a fruit or vegetable to table-fed infants, toddlers and preschoolers at every meal. If possible, serve as least one fresh fruit or vegetable per week.
  • Serve all meals family-style to children over 1 year.
  • Limit fried food for toddlers and preschoolers no more than once a month.
  • Staff model healthy behaviors by not consuming sweetened drinks or unhealthy snacks in front of children.
Required Documentation:
Copy of menu, written description and/or pictures of implemented nutrition standards. The Go NAPSACC action plan may be used as the written description.

Regular physical activity offers many benefits to children in your center. 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. Physical activity also helps children build confidence, develop good sleep habits, develop motor skills, have longer attention spans, stay at a healthy weight and improve social skills and brain development. 

As a child care center, you have the opportunity to provide daily opportunities to be active in a safe play space. You should develop and implement a plan that gets kids moving on a regular basis.

Meeting this benchmark requires the following:

  • Provide babies short, supervised periods of tummy time 2-3 times daily.
  • Provide toddlers and preschoolers 120 minutes or more of active daily play.
  • Provide children with opportunities for free play and adult-led activities.
  • Limit screen time to age appropriate recommended amounts.
  • Limit sedentary time to less than 60 minutes at a time, except when sleeping.
Required Documentation:
Copy of daily schedule, written description and/or pictures of implemented nutrition standards. The Go NAPSACC action plan may be used as the written description.

Your physical activity plan should give children the opportunity to spend time outdoors to seek out exercise, explore their environment, develop muscle strength and coordination, and gain self-confidence. Playing and learning outside of the classroom will also allow them to develop and enhance their creativity, social skills and independence.

Meeting this benchmark requires the following:

  • All children up to 6 years old are participating daily in 2-3 occasions of active play outdoors, weather permitting.
  • Infants are taken outside 2-3 times per day, as tolerated.
  • Toddlers and preschoolers are allowed 60 to 90 total minutes of outdoor play.
  • Facility has designed play environments that teach and promote play and learning (i.e. sand play, gardens, etc.).
  • Facility has a variety of portable play equipment for outdoor use.
Required Documentation:
Written description or pictures of ways in which the self-assessment tools are promoted.

Given the day-to-day workload at a child care center, implementing changes to priority areas such as physical activity, nutrition and screen time might seem intimidating. This benchmark, however, helps make the process easy and approachable. Through training and professional development, you are able to effectively gain new skills and strategies on implementing healthy changes and improve the quality of care for the children you serve. 

By implementing this benchmark, your staff will participate in an additional three clock hours per year on the Go NAPSACC best practice modules. (This is in addition to continuing education requirements set in Bulletin 137.)

Required Documentation:
Copy of agenda, attendance list, or certificates from training for Go NAPSACC “best practice” modules.

Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease of childhood, with more than 40% of children having caries, or cavities, by the time they enter kindergarten.7 Early Childhood Caries (ECC) can cause significant pain and lead to oral infection, visible dental decay, destruction and loss of teeth and damage to permanent teeth. 

To meet this benchmark, you need to implement at least one Oral Health 101 best-practice standard in tooth brushing, teacher practices and education to children and families.

Required Documentation:
Description of how at least one best practice standard in the following three categories are implemented: tooth brushing, teacher practices and education to children and families.
Citations:

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking-Attributable Mortality, Years of Potential Life Lost, and Productivity Losses—United States, 2000–2004. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2008;57(45):1226–8. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5745a3.htm

2 American Lung Association’s State of Tobacco Control Report for Louisiana. Retrieved from: http://www.stateoftobaccocontrol.org/state-grades/louisiana/highlights.html

3 The Business Case For Breastfeeding. Published in 2008 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Maternal and Child Health Bureau. Retrieved from https://www.womenshealth.gov/files/documents/bcfb_business-case-for-breastfeeding-for-business-managers.pdf

4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Facts About Hypertension in the United States. https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/facts.htm

5 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Diabetes Quick Facts. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/quick-facts.html

6 Adult Obesity Rates, State of Childhood Obesity, a project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. https://stateofchildhoodobesity.org/adult-obesity/

7 Pierce KM, Rozier RG, Vann WF. Accuracy of pediatric primary care providers’ screening and referral for early childhood caries. Pediatrics 2002;109(5):E82. Available at : http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/109/5/e82.long