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Eat Well Play Hard in Child Care Settings

Core Elements

This section outlines the aspects of an intervention that are central to its theory and logic and that are thought to be responsible for the intervention’s effectiveness.  Core elements are critical features of the intervention’s intent and design and should be kept intact when the intervention is implemented or adapted. 

Form partnerships with key stakeholders: The EWPHCCS intervention is based in the State Health Department, which administers the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) in New York State.  This office formed strong partnerships with key stakeholders who provide institutional support and infrastructure vital to the successful implementation of the intervention. Key partners include:

  • USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education (SNAP-Ed)
  • New York State (NYS) Office of Children and Family Services, the child care licensing agency
  • NYS Early Care and Learning Council, the statewide umbrella organization for Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agencies
  • Child care centers partnering with the CCR&Rs and with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYCDOHMH)
  • Academic institutions, including Syracuse University, New York University and State University of New York (SUNY) Cortland, provided expertise in nutrition and physical activity during EWPHCCS curriculum development.

Hire registered dietitians (RDs) as direct educators and train them to implement the intervention.  RDs’ high level of nutrition training evokes credibility with parents, childcare center staff, and center directors. To increase the RDs’ ability to deliver the EWPHCCS intervention with fidelity, the NYSDOH provides training and quality control measures for the team of RDs.

Provide education and skill development for children and parents. EWPHCCS curriculum and activities have many strengths:

  • evidence from experts informed curriculum development,
  • current national nutrition guidelines are met,
  • content is tailored to accommodate education level of participants, and
  • many hands-on learning activities are specifically suited for the learning styles and short attention span of young children.

Provide intervention training for child care center staff.  Since day care center staff are encouraged to reinforce nutrition education messages during classes and meal time, direct educators (RDs) offer classes for child care center staff on at least 2 of the following 5 topics: childhood obesity, healthy eating, physical activity, personal health and wellness, and working with families. Classes are individualized to meet each center’s needs. For these classes, lessons from NAP SACC and EWPHCCS staff curriculum are used. Child care center staff are awarded continuing education credits for their participation.  Additionally, since child care staff are expected to repeat lesson messages throughout the day, it is recommended that child care staff be present while the direct educators (RDs) deliver child lessons. 

Encourage in-class taste-testing for children and parents to try new foods.  Taste-testing allows direct educators, teachers, and peers to model enjoyment of fruits and vegetables.

Provide take-home materials for parents, who report using them frequently to reinforce program messages at home.

Provide materials to child care staff to reinforce nutrition and physical activity messages in their classroom. After RDs teach classes for children, they leave staff pages in each classroom. The staff pages include information and activities for the teacher to reinforce the healthy behaviors promoted in the RD class.