National Child Care-Related Organizations Work with the Children’s Environmental Health Network to Advance Best Practices

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Two child care accreditation associations and one association for regulatory professionals are working with the Children’s Environmental Health Network to advance best practices in children’s environmental health in child care and early learning settings throughout the nation.

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The information and discovery provided through this process [Health in All Policies], has created an invaluable link, between the importance of children's learning and the health and safety of their environment.

The Children’s Environmental Health Network (CEHN) has been implementing a Health in All Policies initiative through a five-year cooperative agreement with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The initiative, titled, “Healthy Environments and Futures for all Children”, aims to collaborate with traditional and nontraditional partners to promote sound policy on environmental health and to educate decision makers on these policies. Under this initiative, CEHN has worked with targeted health care professional organizations, including the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, the National Medical Association, the Association of Clinicians for the Underserved, and the National Association of School Nurses, among others, to incorporate children’s environmental health into their practices, standards, and priorities. Now in its 4th year of the CDC agreement, CEHN is providing technical assistance to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the Association for Early Learning Leaders (AELL), and the National Association for Regulatory Administration (NARA) to advance best environmental health practices in the child care setting.

NARA is an international professional organization dedicated to promoting excellence in human care regulation and licensing through leadership, education, collaboration, and services. Over the next five months, CEHN is assisting NARA with developing an environmental health track for their annual licensing seminar, a major professional development event, as well as a quarterly webinar series devoted to children’s environmental health issues, and is providing guidance and resources for a new page on NARA’s website devoted to environmental health. Marcus Williams, NARA's Executive Director, says, "NARA's collaboration with CEHN has and will continue to enhance our efforts to improve the quality of out of home care. The environmental health resources and information has to prove to be an invaluable asset to our members."

NAEYC works to promote high quality early learning for children from birth to age 8, and is updating its child care standards and accreditation criteria. CEHN is providing guidance and resources from its Eco-Healthy Child Care® (EHCC) Program as NAEYC incorporates environmental health best practice into this updated accreditation criteria, which is planned for release in 2016. Dr. Susan Hedges, Director of Program Standards and Assessment, and Katorra Enoch-Longshore, Accreditation Coordinator, are leading this effort for NAEYC, and state, “The information and discovery provided through this process, has created an invaluable link, between the importance of children's learning and the health and safety of their environment."

AELL’s overarching goal is to strengthen the knowledge, skills, and abilities of early child care directors, owners, leaders, and professionals. They are also in the process of revising their Accreditation Manual for 2016, and CEHN is providing advice on changes and additions to their health and safety standards and indicators, as well as sharing EHCC resources to be made available to AELL members.

Together with CEHN, each organization will present as part of a joint webinar on September 3, 2015, addressing their achievements and lessons learned from the collaboration and technical assistance. Information about this free webinar will be posted on the CEHN website

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Kristie Trousdale
Children's Environmental Health Network
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