Posts Tagged ‘ early childhood education ’

Could Your Kid’s Preschool Program Help Fight Childhood Obesity?

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

Childhood obesity is an issue in the U.S — the amount of children who are obese has tripled in recent years, and a quarter of preschool-aged kids are also overweight or obese. Although the White House has gotten involved in the fight against childhood obesity with Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign, along with many schools across the nation, a large percentage of children are actually overweight before they start kindergarten or first grade.

Thankfully, a study released in the journal Pediatrics says that the federally-funded Head Start preschool program can help in fighting against obesity, in addition to helping young children prepare for kindergarten. The study involved 43,700 Michigan preschool-age children, which included 19,000 kids enrolled in Head Start, which is free for 3- to 5-year-olds from families living in poverty. Before the study began, nearly one-third of the Head Start kids were considered obese or overweight, but they ended up with a healthier weight than the children who were not in the program.

“Even though children in the Head Start group began the observation period more obese, equally overweight, and more underweight than children in the comparison groups, at the end of the observation period the initially obese and overweight Head Start children were substantially less obese and overweight than the children in the comparison groups,” says the survey’s authors, which includes lead researcher Dr. Julie Lumeng.

A few reasons for the weight loss might be rooted in the holistic lessons that Head Start imparts to young kids at a crucial time, such as educating them on eating healthy foods and being more physically active, which contribute to making a child’s overall mental health better. All this can help decrease stress and TV time and increase sleep time. With Head Start steering children toward healthier habits and fostering structured routines, children are also more likely to make better choices in their lives.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids
How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids
How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids

Image: Preschool-aged children via Shutterstock

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Good News for Early Childhood Care!

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 Passes in the HouseA bill that will help to make early childhood care safer and more affordable for low-income families passed in the U.S. House on Monday, Politico reports.

The bill, known as the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 (CCDBG) will require certification to guarantee that health and safety standards are being followed and includes policies like:

  • improved background checks for care providers
  • training for care providers in first-aid and CPR
  • using safe sleeping practices to prevent sudden infant death syndrome
  • training care providers on working with children with disabilities

While these are practices we would hope that a daycare center is already enacting, this law will require state certification and annual inspections, among other qualifications. The CCDBG was originally created 24 years ago and has only been updated once since then, in 1996, according to the Children’s Defense Fund. Re-introduced to Congress in 2013, it was passed by both Republican and Democrat supporters in the Senate in March in a 96-2 vote. An amended version of this bill passed on Monday in the House and next up, the Senate will vote again. If it passes it will go on to President Obama for his approval, according to ChildCare Aware.

This bill also seeks to make this care more affordable. The Children’s Defense Fund reports that the annual price tag on early childhood care for young children and infants costs more than attending in-state public college in 35 states and the District of Columbia.

“Whether going to work or school, a lot of parents have to decide who will care for their children and worry if they’ve made the right decision,” House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) said in a statement. “This bipartisan legislation will strengthen this important program to give working moms and dads greater access to quality, affordable child care.”

Are you thinking about putting your child in daycare? Make sure to ask these questions before you commit.

Child Care: Tips for Choosing a Good Day Care Center
Child Care: Tips for Choosing a Good Day Care Center
Child Care: Tips for Choosing a Good Day Care Center

Photo of three children courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Early Childhood Education Safety Bill Reauthorized by U.S. Senate

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

A law that mandates safety measures for early childhood education centers including background checks for caregivers, annual inspections, CPR training requirements, safe sleep practices, and more has been reauthorized by the U.S. Senate as the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 (CCDBG). The legislation, which will coordinate federal and state funding for early childhood education programs, was supported by Senators from both major political parties.

“Early childhood education is essential to a child’s future,” U.S. Senator Michael Bennet (D-Co.) told the Colorado Springs Gazette, “Early learning programs are proven to increase kindergarten readiness and to provide students with the early skills they need to succeed later in school and in life. ”

North Carolina Republican Senator Richard Burr voiced his pleasure that the bill ensures that early childhood education funds, which help an estimated 1.5 million low-income children have access to early education, wind up at programs that meet consistent and high standards for safety and efficacy.

“CCDBG is a welfare reform success story that encourages personal responsibility,” Burr said in The Ripon Advance. “The transparency we incorporate in this law will go a long way toward making parents well-informed consumers of childcare and improve the safety of the programs. It is of particular importance to me that federal dollars will no longer go to childcare providers who have been convicted of violent crimes. CCDBG also places an emphasis on improving the quality of our childcare facilities over the next several years. This is not another Washington entitlement but an investment in the self-sufficiency of some of our hardest working families.”

Access to early education programs is on the rise across the country, even in states that had previously objected to the idea that every child should have a preschool education.

Image: Colored pencils, via Shutterstock

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