222593 Understanding the Environmental Supports and Barriers to Physical Activity in DC Child Care Centers

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 : 12:48 PM - 1:06 PM

Kara Rudolph, MPH , Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins, Baltimore, MD
Ruth Morgan, MPH , Policy, Planning, and Evaluation, Altarum Institute, Washington, DC
Vivian Gabor, MPH , Policy, Planning, and Evaluation/ Childhood Obesity Mission Project, Altarum Institute, Washington, DC
Background: Policymakers are developing a child care wellness policy to support the nutrition and physical activity of D.C.'s youngest children (0-5 years). A policy of this nature will be powerful in its reach as 77% of D.C.'s 3-5 year olds are enrolled in early care and most are low-income. Methods: To support the design of this policy, a scan of 26 D.C. child development centers was conducted with the aim of understanding the environmental supports and barriers to increasing physical activity in child care. Center directors completed a questionnaire, in-depth interview, and assessment of physical infrastructure. Both qualitative and quantitative analyses were performed. Results: The greatest barrier to physical activity was lack of play space. 38% of centers did not have on-site outdoor play space and reported less daily physical activity time than those with on-site outdoor play space. 81% reported at least one park within walking distance; 35% reported that the neighborhood was unsafe. 54% of centers did not have enough open space for children to run freely. Centers often did not have enough fixed (53%) and portable (39%) play equipment to adequately support physical activity. Conclusion: As with any urban setting, space is at a premium. Creative solutions are needed to provide young children with access to safe spaces to be physically active. Solutions could include shared use agreements for parks and playgrounds at schools and recreation centers; grants for construction of on-site playgrounds; and trainings to help centers support activity within small spaces.

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Chronic disease management and prevention
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
1. Explain the primary barriers to engaging preschool-aged children in indoor and outdoor physical activity 2. Describe the availability of physical space and playground structures in DC child care centers 3. Describe the availability of fixed and portable play equipment in DC child care centers 4. Demonstrate how limitations in physical space and infrastructure in DC child care centers are linked to lower levels of physical activity 5. List the external resources (e.g. parks, playgrounds, etc.) that child care providers utilize when they have limitations in space and infrastructure

Keywords: Child Care, Physical Activity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because, as a Policy Associate at Altarum Institute, I co-designed and led this project. I am experienced in designing and conducting formative, process, and outcome evaluations for a variety of maternal and child health programs.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.