Early Childhood Health Promotion
When healthy habits are formed during the preschool years, they can last a lifetime. Early care and education settings are ideal places to encourage good nutrition and physical activity and model healthy behaviors for children. Well-Ahead Louisiana guides child care centers and early education programs on how to make the healthy choice, the easy choice in their environments to help children grow up healthy and strong.
The Impact of Obesity on Children
The impact of obesity on our children is eye-opening. It can put them at risk for health issues such as type 2 diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and more as they become adults. By incorporating evidence-based policies and practices that help children establish healthy behaviors in early care and education settings, there is hope for connecting our children to a healthier future.
1 in 5
Louisiana children 0-5 years old live in a household where someone smokes¹
Louisiana children 1-5 years old had tooth decay or cavities in the past year¹
of babies in Louisiana are breastfed for the recommended first 6 months of life²
of children 2-4 years old enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) are obese³
Improve the Health of Louisiana Children
Making healthy changes in early care and education settings can improve childhood development and can provide protection against chronic diseases in adulthood. Early care education settings can directly influence what children eat and drink and how active they are, as well as help to reduce screen time and support breastfeeding. This builds a foundation for healthy habits.
Well-Ahead provides training and technical assistance to early care and education settings based on the Spectrum of Opportunities framework to help children develop to their full potential and live healthier lives. This includes making healthy changes in their environments for the children they care for, but also implementing changes that support better health for employees. By modeling healthy behaviors each day, employees can motivate the children in their care to do the same.
Let’s Be Healthy Grant
Child care centers can apply for $2,500 through the Let’s Be Healthy grant install an edible garden in their center’s outdoor learning environment to nurture healthy habits.
Child Care Provider Trainings
Well-Ahead provides child care centers with valuable training and resources that help them positively impact the health of children and staff.
Get Kids Moving
Daily physical activity for children helps increase attention spans, decrease behavioral and disciplinary problems and improve performance in the classroom. Programs like Painted Playgrounds and Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH) are innovative and low-cost ways for child care centers to encourage children to get physically active.
Go NAPSACC (Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Child Care) is a national research-based program proven to improve the nutrition and physical activity environment in child care centers. Its online platform provides evidence-based online tools like self-assessments, customizable action plans and a resource library to help build healthy eating and physical activity habits in children.
Nurture Healthy Nutrition Habits
Well-Ahead supports early care and education settings with efforts to nurture healthy eating habits through access to the Farm to Early Care Education Program (Farm2ECE) and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). Centers are also encouraged to serve clean drinking water in place of less healthy options and implement family style dining practices with toddlers and preschoolers
Reduce Screen Time
Children spend an average of seven hours per day using electronic devices. Well-Ahead assists child care centers with becoming screen-free or screen smart to make more time available for activities that encourage brain development, imagination, social skills and physical activity.
Collaboration is essential to helping our youngest generation thrive. Our statewide partnerships are the cornerstone to making healthy changes in child care centers and early education programs. These connections create a strategic approach for fighting childhood obesity.
Well-Ahead works with child care centers to help them implement wellness benchmarks. These benchmarks provide an environment for children to learn healthy behaviors while also positively impacting the health of staff.
1 Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative, 2018-2019. National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) data query
2 National Immunization Survey, 2016.
3 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 68(46);1057-1061. “State-Specific Prevalence of Obesity Among Children Aged 2–4 Years Enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children—United States, 2010-2016.”
Helping children form healthy habits impacts the future health of our communities, one step at a time.
Helping Louisiana’s Children Grow
When established early, healthy behaviors can set a foundation for a healthier future. Chan’s Scholar Toddlers (CST) child care center in Amite, Louisiana provides full and part-time care services for a range of ages. Through Well-Ahead Louisiana’s Let’s Be Healthy grant, they built a vegetable garden to help teach children about making healthy decisions. As …
Northeast Children’s Coalition Encourages Child Care Centers to Become WellSpots
The Children’s Coalition for Northeast Louisiana knows that investing early in the health and development of Louisiana’s children results in much better development later, and that’s one of the reasons they are proud to be a WellSpot. “The childhood obesity problem in Louisiana is critical,” said then-executive director of the Coalition Lynn Clark. “It falls …
CATCH Helps Preschoolers Catch on to Fun Physical Activity!
Between August 2019 and July 2020, Well-Ahead Louisiana piloted a cohort of child care centers to train and implement their staff in the Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH) program. By uniting multiple players in a child’s life to create a community of health, CATCH is proven to prevent childhood obesity and is supported by …