With 60 percent of American children spending a majority of their day in child care, the goal of Healthy Way to Grow is to improve the ability of child care center providers (serving children from birth to age 5) to improve and sustain physical activity, nutrition, limited screen time and infant feeding policies and practices. The result should be healthier children, better-informed parents and caregivers and, ultimately, a reduction of childhood obesity.
Healthy Way to Grow can currently be found in six communities across the nation -- the six regional areas of the McGowan Fund’s grant-making activity: Rochester, N.Y.; Denver, Colo.; Kansas City, Kan.; Northeastern Pa., Chicago, Ill., and Reno, Nev. Program staff in each community works directly with child care providers to improve center environments, educate families and develop/adopt a center wellness policy. They also encourage and recognize progress toward best practice goals for physical activity, screen time, food and beverages and infant feeding. Healthy Way to Grow program objectives are to:
- Engage child care centers to participate in the program, and providing them resources, tools and technical assistance to create or update a written center wellness policy.
- Support centers in their ability to create Action Plans to implement their wellness policy with visible, measurable, sustainable actions and meet program criteria to promote healthy nutrition, physical activity, infant feeding and limited screen time use which also align with national best-practice guidelines, including Let’s Move! Child Care.
- Help centers engage families through training, material provision and developing a plan for reaching parents/caregivers with health messages.
- Recognize child care centers that meet program criteria.
- Collect and evaluate data to monitor overall progress toward sustainable implementation of best practices and policies.
- Conduct a robust program evaluation to measure how the program affected the center and its children.