Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 2: Program Activities for Healthy Development

2.4 Health Education

2.4.2 Health Education for Staff Health and Safety Education Topics for Staff

Content in the STANDARD was modified on 1/10/2017 and 02/25/2022.


The program activities on health and safety education should prepare early care and education staff in physical health; infection control; oral health; mental, and social and emotional health; nutrition; physical activity; environmental health; and safe environments for children and staff. Staff should be able to demonstrate knowledge or implement best practices of the following health education topics:

Physical Health

  • Hearing, vision, and language problems
  • Children with special health care needs
  • Safe medication administration
  • Shaken baby syndrome and abusive head trauma
  • Gaining access to community resources
  • Tobacco use/smoking and electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use/vaping
  • Marijuana use

Infection Control

  • Hand hygiene
  • Cleaning/sanitizing/disinfecting
  • Illness exclusion policies
  • Immunizations

Oral Health

  • Proper infant feeding techniques
  • Age-appropriate oral care

Mental, and Social and Emotional Health

  • Promoting healthy mind and brain development through child care
  • Behavior/discipline
  • Monitoring developmental abilities, including indicators of potential delays
  • Family/guardian mental health
  • Staff mental health


  • Age-appropriate nutrition
  • Lactation (breast/chest feeding) support

Physical Activity

  • Age-appropriate physical activity
  • Outdoor play and learning

 Environmental Health and Safe Environments

  • Food safety
  • Clean, healthy drinking water
  • Safe sleep environments and SIDS prevention
  • Healthy indoor and outdoor learning/play environments
  • Safety/injury prevention
  • Managing emergency situations
  • Safe use, storage, and cleanup of chemicals
  • Safe medication administration and storage
  • Safe storage of toxic substances
  • Safe storage of marijuana in all forms (e.g., edibles)
  • Safe use and storage of firearms
  • Reducing exposure to environmental toxins (e.g., pesticides, cleaning products)
  • Healthy air and good ventilation

Early care and education staff members who are up to date on health and safety practices are more likely to provide a safe and healthy environment for children.1 The most significant predictor of compliance with state child care health and safety regulations is staff continuing education in the areas of health, safety, child development, and abuse identification.2

More health and safety topics that staff needs to be knowledgeable about to teach children are listed in Standard


Child care staff often learn about health and safety from a child care health consultant (CCHC).3 Data support the relationship between child care health consultation and the increased quality of the health of the children and safety of the child care center environment.3,4 Community resources can provide written materials about health and safety. Examples of materials can be found at and

State and local public health departments and child care state licensing agencies often conduct trainings or offer resources on the health and safety education topics listed above. Early care and education programs should consider offering “credit” for health education classes or encourage staff members to attend accredited education programs that can give education credits. The American Association for Health Education (AAHE) and the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC) provide information on certified health education specialists.

For more information on e-cigarettes and marijuana use, please visit:

American Lung Association. E-Cigarettes. 2020.  

American Lung Association. Marijuana and Lung Health. 2020.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. Marijuana DrugFacts. 2019.   

Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Health, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Safety Awareness Monitoring Children’s Development/Obtaining Consent for Screening Supervision Near Bodies of Water Discipline Measures Routine Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting General Plan for Feeding Infants Use and Storage of Toxic Substances Firearms Written Plan and Training for Handling Urgent Medical or Threatening Incidents Community Resource Information Contents of Child’s Primary Care Provider’s Assessment
  1. Chödrön G, Barger B, Pizur-Barnekow K, Viehweg S, Puk-Ament A. “Watch Me!” Training increases knowledge and impacts attitudes related to developmental monitoring and referral among childcare providers. Matern Child Health J. 2021;25(6):980-990. doi:10.1007/s10995-020-03097-w

  2. Crowley AA, Rosenthal MS. Ensuring the Health and Safety of Connecticut’s Early Care and Education Programs. Farmington, CT: The Child Health and Development Institute of Connecticut; 2009.

  3. Alkon A, Crowley AA, Benjamin Neelon SE, et al. Nutrition and physical activity randomized control trial in child care centers improves knowledge, policies, and children’s body mass index. BMC Public Health. 2014;14(1):215. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-215

  4. Alkon A, Nouredini S, Swartz A, et al. Integrated pest management intervention in child care centers improves knowledge, pest control, and practices. J Pediatr Health Car. 2016;20(6):e27-e41. doi:10.1016/j.pedhc.2016/07/004


Content in the STANDARD was modified on 1/10/2017 and 02/25/2022.