Early care and education

Many Louisiana children spend time in early care and education (ECE) settings, including child care centers, day care homes, Head Start programs, preschool and pre-kindergarten programs.  These are critical places for children to learn healthy habits that can last a lifetime.  

Well-Ahead Louisiana works with providers and communities to support healthier ECE settings through partnership development and technical assistance to ensure a healthy start to a healthy future. 

Take Action to Support Healthy Child Care Centers

Well-Ahead Louisiana helps early childhood sites take action to positively impact the health of the children they serve, as well as the health of their employees. When healthy eating and physical activity habits are acquired during early childhood, they can last a lifetime. Well-Ahead Louisiana utilizes the Spectrum of Opportunities for supporting a healthy start. 

Everyone has a role to play in supporting a healthy start for children, including parents, providers, and community partners. Your involvement is key to ensuring a healthy future for our children. Utilize the resources below to take action today!

Nurture Healthy Eaters

Healthy eating is necessary for healthy development.  That’s why it’s important to offer children healthy food choices; options that will nurture their bodies and fuel brain development. Children form lifelong eating habits based on the foods served to them when they are young.  But it’s not just about the foods served — healthy eating habits are influenced by the entire mealtime experience, as well as other learning activities involving food like gardening and taste tests. To learn more about how centers can nurture healthy eaters, visit Nemours' Healthy Kids. Healthy Future or Go NAP SACC. 

Farm to Early Care and Education

Farm to early care and education (Farm2ECE) is a set of strategies and activities that offer increased access to healthy, local foods through local procurement, gardening opportunities, and food and agriculture education activities to enhance the quality of educational experience. These same core elements as Farm to School can be adapted to preschools, child care centers, family child care homes, and Head Start/Early Head Start. Click here to learn more about Louisiana Harvest of the Month Program.

Provide Healthy Beverages

Children naturally get thirsty after playing, sleeping or eating.  They can learn to recognize when they are thirsty and can learn to develop a preference for drinking water to quench their thirst. Centers are encouraged to have water available for kids at all times. Water should be served inside and outside, during meals, and be easily accessible throughout the day. To find resources on healthy beverages for children, please click here

Tips to Make Water Easily Available

  • Fill child-size water pitchers and let kids serve themselves.
  • Invest in a small portable water cooler for outside use.
  • Have small cups available. 
  • If water fountains are available, allow children to take water breaks or refill water bottles from home.

Get Kids Moving

Since many children are in child care throughout the week, it’s important to provide children daily opportunities to be active in a safe play space.  In addition, evidence shows that children who are active tend to have fewer behavioral and disciplinary problems, do better in school, and have longer attention spans in class. To learn more visit Nemours' Healthy Kids. Healthy Future or Go NAPSACC

Painted Playground

Paint your child care center's playground! Playground stencils are an innovative, low-cost way to improve playgrounds. Playground stencils are designed to create painted playgrounds and enhance outdoor physical activity opportunities for children. Stencils provide an excellent opportunity for children to get physically active and practice developmentally appropriate movement such as balance, loco-motor skills, and spatial awareness. They are reusable and are impacting hundreds of Louisiana children!

Click here to check out how Church Point Elementary School in Acadia Parish painted their playground! Well-Ahead has several playground stencils available.  Stencils provide an excellent opportunity for children to get physically active and practice balance, loco-motor skills, and spatial awareness. The Playground Stencil Project is a collaborative effort of Well-Ahead Louisiana, Partners for Healthy Families, Tulane University, and Pennington Biomedical Research Center. 

Email wellahead@la.gov to learn how your child care center can borrow our stencils!

Reduce Screen Time

Screen time is any time spent using electronic devices, including TV, videos, DVDs, computers, tablets, video games and handheld devices.  Children spend an average of seven hours per day using electronic devices (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2016).  For growing bodies and developing minds, it is important to limit screen time use. 

Review the Louisiana Screen time Toolkit

This toolkit provides resources your center can use to write, implement and educate on the electronic devices policy and highlights resources for you to review that will help you as you work to limit and reduce screen time in your center. Click here to check it out!

Support Breastfeeding

Provide breastfeeding mothers access to a designated area for breastfeeding or pumping, other than a bathroom, with appropriate seating and privacy.  It’s ideal to both welcome moms who wish to breastfeed in the classroom, and to provide a private space for those who wish to use it. To learn more about supporting breastfeeding, please visit Partners for Healthy Babies

 

Staff Training, Technical Assistance, and Resources 

Well-Ahead Louisiana helps early care and education sites take action to positively impact the health of children and staff.  Use the resources below to make healthy changes. 

Child Care Center WellSpot Designation

Through our WellSpot Designation Program, Well-Ahead Louisiana works with centers to help them meet 

wellness benchmarks. Wellness benchmarks for centers include things like creating incorporating physical activity and encouraging healthy snacks. 


Becoming a Child Care Center WellSpot is a great first step to creating a healthier environment for your center. There are many resources that can help your child care center implement WellSpot Benchmarks. Click here to visit our child care center benchmark webpage to learn more.

GO NAPSACC

Go NAPSACC (Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Child Care), a national and evidenced-based program, promotes healthy weight in preschool children by assessing child care centers’ current practices related to nutrition and physical activity. Following an assessment, the program helps centers strengthen and enhance their nutritional and physical activity policies and practices, as well as related environmental characteristics. Participation in Go NAP SACC can help child care centers offer benefits that parents love, at no cost to the center, including:

  • Higher quality of food served
  • Higher amount and quality of physical activity
  • Enhanced staff-child interactions
  • Improved facility nutrition and physical activity policies and practices. 

Since 2010, over 250 child care centers in Louisiana have implemented this program. To learn more contact wellahead@la.gov. 

Training & Resources

  • Louisiana Child Care Health Consultant (LACCHC) program trains health professionals to become Child Care Health Consultants. Consultants provide education, training, and technical assistance to child care facilities on health and safety. All licensed child care centers are required to receive 3 clock hours of health and safety training annually to maintain licensure.