Parents Agree: Healthy Child Care is a Top Priority


Healthy Child Care

4 Things to Look For in a Child Care Center

For 3-year-old Mike, it had been well worth it. The mom of his, MC, examined 5 kid care centers before locating the best one.

The first was a great location but didn’t live up to the hype. The home daycare option had a lovely atmosphere but didn’t offer nutritious meals.

The search was intense. Finding the right program, especially as a new parent, proved trickier than she anticipated.

Rele had similar problems, if not twice, the challenge. She ran into the same obstacles when searching for her twin daughters.

After listening to friends’ recommendations and researching the options available in their communities, both still found it hard to pinpoint exactly what makes a child care center “right.”

Image of two girls, Gabrielle and Penelope, playing in a play pen at an early child care facility.

Based on a new survey released by the Partnership for a Healthier America, 91 percent of parents choose a child care center based on its commitment to creating a healthier environment.

Parents ranked “access to free, safe drinking water” as their top health priority, followed by serving nutritious food and snacks, providing physical activity throughout the day, and limiting screen time.

Five PHA partners –Bright Horizons, KinderCare, Learning Care Group, New Horizon Academy, and the YMCA – have made commitments to Healthy Child Care environments based on the Yale Wellness Child Care Assessment Tool (WellCCAT).

This is especially important because research shows developing eating and physical activity habits at a young age can put children on a path to a healthier life.

Here are a few tips from Rele and MC, two child care veterans, to help you find the perfect spot.

Stimulating Surfaces. For MC, ensuring that Max is spending his day in a creative atmosphere with plenty of stimulation is extremely important.

Colors and shapes are frequently thought of as the building blocks of early childhood education, and the color is one of the first tools preschoolers use to make distinctions between different objects.

Image of a young child, Max, playing in a yard at an out-of-school time center.

Healthy Child Care is a Top Priority, Plenty of Play. Free play encourages kids to interact with one another, gets them up and moving, and helps even the youngest children begin to develop their motor skills.

Over the past few months, Rile has witnessed the benefit free play has had on her two ten-month-old daughters first hand, noting that from a skills-development perspective, “daycare has helped to push them.”

Fuel Up Family Style. Over the past few years, PHA has worked with several early childhood centers to encourage family-style meals, which have been proven to help provide kids with a better understanding of nutrition and a healthier relationship with food.

MC has found that with her son Mark, family-style meals have helped him become more comfortable trying new foods, explaining that “when he sees his friends eating things that he might not want to try, he’s more likely to give it a shot.”

An array of activities. Both MC and Rele value their child care center’s commitment to exposing their kids to a wide range of activities.

Whether it’s listening and dancing to music, cooking easy snacks, or even practicing yoga,  Healthy Child Care is a Top Priority can present a series of firsts, and sometimes these firsts can also lead to lifelong interests.