Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Updated national standards to prevent childhood obesity in early learning settings

Preventing Childhood Obesity in Early Care and Education Programs is a new set of national standards on best practices in nutrition, physical activity, and screen time for early care and education programs.
"Preventing Childhood Obesity in Early Care and Education Programs contains practical intervention strategies to prevent excessive weight gain in young children. The standards detail opportunities for facilities and caregivers/teachers to work with families beginning on day one of an infant’s enrollment to prevent childhood obesity by promoting a healthy and active lifestyle.
These updated standards will be a part of the comprehensive Caring for Our Children: National Health and Safety Performance Standards; Guidelines for Early Care and Education Programs, Third Edition (CFOC, 3rd Ed.) to be released in 2011. The standards are for all types of early care and education settings – centers and family child care homes.
Areas of coverage:
  • General Nutrition Requirements
  • Meal and Snack Patterns
  • Requirements for Infants and Support Breastfeeding of Infants
  • Requirements for Toddlers and Preschoolers
  • Meal Service and Supervision
  • Food Brought from Home
  • Nutrition Education
  • Active Opportunities for Physical Activity 
  • Outdoor and Indoor Play Time 
  • Caregivers/Teachers’ Encouragement of Physical Activity
  • Screen Time Limits
  • Policies on Infant Feeding, Food and Nutrition Services, and Physical Activity
Caring for Our Children standards are developed through a public-private partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Public Health Association, the National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB)."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Working Connections Child Care 12-month eligibility form, information available

Beginning September 1, families that have a child in Head Start, Early Head Start or an Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) and are eligible for Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) benefits may qualify for 12 months of eligibility before having to reapply for WCCC. These families must still meet all WCCC requirements during their eligibility period. You can learn more about 12-month eligibility here.

How do parents apply for WCCC and the 12-month eligibility?
  • The first step is to apply for WCCC. Call the DSHS Customer Service Call Center at 1.877.507.2233 or apply online. DSHS will determine your eligibility based on your completed application within 30 days. You can learn more about WCCC here.
  • You must also complete this verification form that states your child is enrolled in Head Start, Early Head Start or ECEAP when you apply or re-apply for WCCC benefits. This form is also available at local Head Start, Early Head Start or ECEAP programs, and at local CSO offices. DSHS needs the information on this form in order to verify your child’s enrollment in Head Start, Early Head Start or ECEAP before authorizing 12 months of eligibility.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Cuts to WorkFirst services ordered for rest of state fiscal year

Today, Gov. Chris Gregoire announced cuts of $51 million to the WorkFirst program for the rest of state fiscal year 2011 (which ends June 30, 2011). WorkFirst is our state’s “welfare to work” program, which helps low-income families become self-sufficient through training and support services. WorkFirst includes the Working Connections Child Care program, which offers child care subsidies to low-income families who are working, looking for work or in job training.
Cuts to WCCC for the rest of this fiscal year are expected to save about $16.8 million and include:
  • Reducing WCCC eligibility to 175 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (a monthly income of less than $2,670 for a family of three). This will be effective October 1, and will be phased in as families using WCCC come up for reauthorization.
  • Requiring only one parent in two-parent families to participate in work activities to reduce child care costs for an expected 1,900 WorkFirst families.
These cuts are due to increased WorkFirst caseloads and a decrease in state revenue collection. Click here to read more about WCCC and other cuts to WorkFirst.
The Governor has challenged the five state agencies involved in WorkFirst—the Department of Social and Health Services, DEL, the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, the Employment Security Department and the Higher Education Coordinating Board—to redesign the WorkFirst program to focus on cost-effective, sustainable, evidence-based best practices. That proposal will be delivered to the Governor this December. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Give input on the draft Core Competencies for Early Care and Education Professionals!

Now is your chance to give input on a draft document that will define what early care and education professionals in our state need to know and be able to do to provide quality care and education. Click here to read the draft Core Competencies for Early Care and Education Professionals and take a short survey. The survey is available until August 20.

The core competencies were developed by the Department of Early Learning in partnership with the Professional Development Consortium, at the direction of the Legislature. They include standards around eight areas:

• Child growth and development

• Curriculum and learning environment

• Ongoing measurement of child progress

• Family and community partnerships

• Health, safety and nutrition

• Interactions

• Program planning and development

• Professional development and leadership