Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 2: Program Activities for Healthy Development

2.1 Program of Developmental Activities

2.1.1 General Program Activities Coordinated Child Care Health Program Model

Caregivers/teachers should follow these guidelines for implementing coordinated health programs in all early care and education settings. These coordinated health programs should consist of health and safety education, physical activity and education, health services and child care health consultation, nutrition services, mental health services, healthy and safe indoor and outdoor learning environment, health and safety promotion for the staff, and family and community involvement. The guidelines consist of the following eight interactive components:

1. Health Education: A planned, sequential, curriculum that addresses the physical, mental, emotional, and social dimensions of health. The curriculum is designed to motivate and assist children in maintaining and improving their health, preventing disease and injury, and reducing health-related risk behaviors (1,2).

2. Physical Activity and Education: A planned, sequential curriculum that provides learning experiences in a variety of activity areas such as basic movement skills, physical fitness, rhythms and dance, games, sports, tumbling, outdoor learning and gymnastics. Quality physical activity and education should promote, through a variety of planned physical activities indoors and outdoors, each child’s optimum physical, mental, emotional, and social development, and should promote activities and sports that all children enjoy and can pursue throughout their lives (1,2,6).

3. Health Services and Child Care Health Consultants: Services provided for child care settings to assess, protect, and promote health. These services are designed to ensure access or referral to primary health care services or both, foster appropriate use of primary health care services, prevent and control communicable disease and other health problems, provide emergency care for illness or injury, promote and provide optimum sanitary conditions for a safe child care facility and child care environment, and provide educational opportunities for promoting and maintaining individual, family, and community health. Qualified professionals such as child care health consultants may provide these services (1,2,4,5).

4. Nutrition Services: Access to a variety of nutritious and appealing meals that accommodate the health and nutrition needs of all children. School nutrition programs reflect the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans and other criteria to achieve nutrition integrity. The school nutrition services offer children a learning laboratory for nutrition and health education and serve as a resource for linkages with nutrition-related community services (1,2).

5. Mental Health Services: Services provided to improve children’s mental, emotional, and social health. These services include individual and group assessments, interventions, and referrals. Organizational assessment and consultation skills of mental health professionals contribute not only to the health of students but also to the health of the staff and child care environment (1,2).

6. Healthy Child Care Environment: The physical and aesthetic surroundings and the psychosocial climate and culture of the child care setting. Factors that influence the physical environment include the building and the area surrounding it, natural spaces for outdoor learning, any biological or chemical agents that are detrimental to health, indoor and outdoor air quality, and physical conditions such as temperature, noise, and lighting. Unsafe physical environments include those such as where bookcases are not attached to walls and doors that could pinch children’s fingers. The psychological environment includes the physical, emotional, and social conditions that affect the well-being of children and staff (1,2).

7. Health Promotion for the Staff: Opportunities for caregivers/teachers to improve their own health status through activities such as health assessments, health education, help in accessing immunizations, health-related fitness activities, and time for staff to be outdoors. These opportunities encourage caregivers/teachers to pursue a healthy lifestyle that contributes to their improved health status, improved morale, and a greater personal commitment to the child care’s overall coordinated health program. This personal commitment often transfers into greater commitment to the health of children and creates positive role modeling. Health promotion activities have improved productivity, decreased absenteeism, and reduced health insurance costs (1,2).

8. Family and Community Involvement: An integrated child care, parent/guardian, and community approach for enhancing the health and safety, and well-being of children. Parent/guardian-teacher health advisory councils, coalitions, and broadly based constituencies for child care health can build support for child care health program efforts. Early care and education settings should actively solicit parent/guardian involvement and engage community resources and services to respond more effectively to the health-related needs of children (1,2).

Early care and education settings provide a structure by which families, caregivers/teachers, administrators, primary care providers, and communities can promote optimal health and well-being of children (3,4). The coordinated child care health program model was adapted from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Division of Adolescent and School Health’s (DASH) Coordinated School Health Program (CSHP) model (2).
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  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2008. Healthy youth! Coordinates school health programs.
  2. Cory, A. C. 2007. The role of the child care health consultant in promoting health literacy for children, families, and educators in early care and education settings. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American School Health Association.
  3. Fiene, R. 2002. 13 indicators of quality child care: Research update. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation.
  4. U.S. Department of health and Human Services, Office of Child Care. 2010. Coordinating child care consultants: Combining multiple disciplines and improving quality in infant/toddler care settings.
  5. Coordinated Health/Care. Maximize your benefits: FAQs about care coordination.
  6. Friedman, H. S., L. R. Martin, J. S. Tucker, M. H. Criqui, M. L. Kern, C. A. Reynolds. 2008. Stability of physical activity across the lifespan. J Health Psychol 13:1092-1104.