Enrolling in High-Quality Childcare and WIC Good News

This week, April 8-12, is designated by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) as the Week of the Young Child, a week dedicated to shining a spotlight early learning, young children, their teachers, families, and communities. The WotYC is a also a great time to highlight how to access high-quality early childhood programs which align with healthy environments for kids to practice good nutrition and physical activity. We know that children develop their habits around nutrition and physical activity by age five, so developing good habits early is critical. High-quality programs can take many forms: licensed centers, ministries, or family homes. Please share this blog post with friends, family and colleagues who are exploring child care options.

A young child plays with blocks in his child care center.
Happy baby playing with toy blocks in his early education center.

Applications for On My Way Pre-K are open now. This state program enables qualified families (determined by income) to enroll in high-quality pre-K programs, include full-time pre-K for working families. Programs that qualify to accept OMWPK families must meet the state’s Paths to QUALITY rating system of level 3 (the highest) or 4 (the highest plus national accreditation).

Pre-K students at Day Early Learning at Ft. Harrison eat a balanced lunch together
Pre-K students at Day Early Learning at Ft. Harrison learn good nutrition habits

Brighter Futures Indiana is a resource developed in partnership between Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration and Early Learning Indiana. Its website has tools to help you find high quality childcare as well astools to help you learn about affording high quality childcare.

And there has been some good news coming across our Google alerts over the past week regarding tracking the overweight and obesity prevalence in very young children. A study published in the April 1 online Pediatrics indicates that the 2009 changes to the WIC program (US Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children) may be contributing to a reduction in overweight and obesity among two-four year-olds. The changes that were made to the program included changing the contents of their food packages for families who were food insecure and providing extra cash allowances for such things as more vegetables and fruits while cutting the amount of juice allowed in half, requiring low-fat or skim versus whole milk, reducing cheese, and requiring whole grain rather than refined grain products.  The goal of those changes was to improve health and reduce overweight and obesity among WIC recipients. We at Jump IN have been tracking that trend in central Indiana and are seeing similar results. While causation cannot be definitively proved, the reduction in the overweight and obesity rate is encouraging. Our hope is that these young children (and their families), now that they have better access to healthier food, are developing healthy habits that will last as they get older.