With continuing high rates of overweight and obesity among young children, Dr. Barbara Ferrer, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission, today launched the Boston Healthy Childcare Initiative (BHCCI), a new program of Boston Moves for Health that promotes physical activity and healthy nutrition among the city’s childcare programs. The initiative is based on First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Childcare guidelines which include promoting healthy eating habits, encouraging breastfeeding, increasing physical activity, and decreasing screen time, all of which are known to contribute to healthy weight among young children.
“Quality childcare is so important for working mothers, and this year we’ll focus on improving access to quality options for families across the City of Boston,” Mayor Thomas M. Menino said. “We’re proud to recognize and support these three providers who have adopted the Healthy Childcare Initiative’s best practice standards, and we look forward to working with many more childcare providers in the days ahead.”
At the event today at Franklin Square House Children’s Center in Roxbury, Dr. Ferrer recognized Franklin Square House, Cribs & Cradles Family Child Care in Dorchester, and Small Fry Fun House Daycare, also in Roxbury, as the first three programs in the city to adopt the initiative’s best practice standards.
“Boston Moves for Health is about helping everyone in Boston adopt healthy habits and make small changes that can have a big impact on improving their health,” said Dr. Ferrer. “Through the Boston Healthy Childcare Initiative, we are so pleased to be able to help our littlest residents get off to a healthy start, too, by developing these good habits early on.”
Developed and implemented by the Boston Public Health Commission, the initiative offers childcare providers two free two and a half hour trainings to develop policy changes, and technical assistance to implement them. Providers who complete the program are recognized as a Boston Healthy Childcare Program and reviewed by BPHC every two years. In addition, they will receive incentives, provided by support from the Mayor’s office, to help them achieve their goals, including materials that encourage healthy eating and physical activity in children, breastfeeding pillows, or active play equipment. More than 120 staff from 56 center- and family-based childcare programs have already participated in initial workshops to learn how to serve healthier foods and beverages, provide active playtime, cut down on ‘screen time,’ and support breastfeeding mothers at their sites. As these programs continue to develop and implement healthy policies, they will also be recognized by BPHC.
“All of the staff and children at the Franklin Square House Children’s Center are excited and honored to be recognized by the city of Boston for the various policies we have developed to ensure our children get the healthiest and happiest start to their young lives,” said Tiffany Nilsson, director of Franklin Square House. “Many of these policies have been in place for almost twenty years, so it is wonderful to have our regular day to day healthy habits acknowledged in this great new program. We hope this movement continues and the healthy standards set forth in this initiative become the norm for all child care facilities in Boston and beyond.”
Licensed childcare programs who would like to participate should contact Elisa Rodrigues, Healthy Childcare Initiative coordinator, at 617-419-3412 or firstname.lastname@example.org. A full list of the best practice standards and an ongoing list of childcare programs that have been recognized by BPHC is available at BostonMovesForHealth.org.
Late last year, the BHCCI was recognized by the National League of Cities for its progress toward completing key health and wellness goals for Let’s Move!, including a gold medal in the “Start Early, Stay Smart” category. Read more here.