High quality child care that is healthy, safe and nurturing is essential for our children, our families and our society.
Early childhood care and education (ECCE) for children enables their parents to work, attend school, contribute to the well-being of their families and participate in their communities. Skilled child care providers play a key role in young children’s lives. An enormous number of children in the United States, 63 percent, are in some type of formal or informal child care. 18.5 million of those children are under the age of 5. Nationally, preschoolers spend an average of 32 hours per week in child care. In Oregon only 32.9 percent of children in care under the age of 4 were in paid (usually licensed) child care in 2008.
Children’s daily experiences have long-term effects on them. Infants and young children’s early relationships, family, community and culture support their healthy growth and development. Children in safe and healthy environments are more likely to grow into healthy adults. Warm, nurturing and attuned responses from caring adults within the context of sound physical health provide the foundation for early brain development and are associated with a broad range of abilities and learning capacities.
High quality care environments and skilled ECCE providers can preserve, protect and promote children’s health through daily opportunities for healthy meals and regular physical activity; protection from communicable disease by sanitary practices and community connections to health insurance and to routine health, mental health and dental care services as needed. Though only 10 percent of child care is estimated to be of poor quality, most of child care is considered of fair or minimal quality, which does not offer the ideal safe and nurturing environment for these children. Clearly, there is work to be done to improve child care quality.
Oregon Kids: Healthy and Safe
Oregon Kids: Healthy and Safe (OKHS) is a training and online resource that early care and education (ECE) professionals can use to provide healthy and safe environments and practices for children in their care. The training on health and safety is available to ECE professionals across the state. The OKHS E-Reference is an online resource that puts just-in-time health and safety information in the hands of ECE professionals as they care for children.
Oregon Kids: Healthy and Safe is a joint project among the following partners: Oregon Health Authority, Oregon Child Care Resource & Referral Network, State of Oregon Employment Department Child Care Divison, and the Oregon Center for Career Development in Childhood Care and Education.