245733 Protecting our most vulnerable and promoting healthy child care

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 3:10 PM

Nsedu Obot Witherspoon, MPH , Executive Director, Children's Environmental Health Network (CEHN), Washington, DC
While great attention over the years has focused on the environmental health and safety of homes and schools, basic environmental education and remediation efforts have traditionally missed the pre-kindergarten environments. Due to the important stage of development occurring during the early years of a young child's life, taking a serious look at the places where they spend the most of their time is key to health protection. In the United States, over 60 percent of our children under the age of six are enrolled in some form of child care program. As a result, the Children's Environmental Health Network launched the Healthy Environments in Child Care and Preschools Program (HECCP). The goals of this program were to help child care professionals 1) understand children's vulnerabilities to environmental health exposures; 2) identify environmental health hazards in and around child care facilities; and 3) develop methods to alleviate and remove environmental health hazards. The HECCP was piloted in California, Georgia, Texas, and Washington, D.C. The Washington, D.C. program ran from 2007-2010 and was the only initiative of its kind to include environmental health training of child care providers and environmental assessments of enrolled facilities. A total of 60 licensed child care facilities participated in the D.C program and a total of 691 home and center-based child care providers were trained on environmental health protection. Between pre and post environmental assessments, change in practices in the facilities created an increased health and safety trend. When comparing the pre and post training evaluations, an overall improvement was found in the knowledge and understanding of environmental risks. This session provides an overview of the strategies and tools that made this program so successful. In addition, participants will gain an understanding of how the best practices were adopted into the first national Eco-Healthy Child Care Program.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Environmental health sciences
Public health or related education
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
1) Identify at least three key environmental health hazards placing children at risk in child care facilities. 2) Demonstrate a core understanding of an effective environmental health training and assessment program for child care professionals.

Keywords: Children's Health, Child Care

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have run the program content since 2004 and served as one of the key project trainers for 4 years. I also serve as the Executive Director for the CEHN, the organization which now runs the only national environmental training and endorsement program for child care professionals.
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.