Describe opportunities to strengthen behavioral outcomes in EFNEP and SNAP-Ed direct education through engagement in policy, systems and environment outreach projects in early childcare settings.
Use of Theory or Research
Educators in childcare settings are well-positioned to positively influence the nutritional habits of young children, however they may lack opportunities to learn about the nutritional care and feeding of this audience. This presents opportunities for EFNEP/SNAP-Ed programs to continue the shift in focus to instilling healthy habits earlier in the lifecycle. They can engage childcare employees in education related to best practices for infant and toddler feeding, the need for healthy mealtime environments and the importance of role-modeling healthy behaviors.
Employees of early childcare and education centers participating in WVU FNP Programs in 2018.
WVU FNP partnered with WVSTARS to offer 6.0 hours of professional development to employees in exchange for participation in a modified version of the Nutrition Education Aimed at Toddlers curriculum (Michigan State University). Marketing materials were created for front-line staff to recruit participants and programs launched in 2018.
Outcomes were evaluated using both the EFNEP Food & Physical Activity Questionnaire and the Web-based Nutrition Education and Evaluation Reporting System (WebNEERS) software.
Sixty-five people participated across 5 counties and 90% received continuing education credit. Graduation rates and behavioral outcomes in core EFNEP areas were similar or better than both overall West Virginia and national EFNEP levels, however improvements in fruit and vegetable intake and consumption of sugar sweetened beverages were lower than expected.
Behavioral outcomes for child care center employees indicate a greater need for engagement around sugar sweetened beverage and fruit and vegetable consumption. Integrating existing FNP PSE support programs such as Rethink Your Drink, Kids Farmers Markets, gardening and Food of the Month at child care centers offers an opportunity to strengthen behavioral outcomes of childcare center staff as well as influencing health behaviors of children and families.