The Intersection of Early Learning and Health
“The Coalition’s work is an example of bringing a health lens to a non-health sector,” said Colman. “Health issues aren’t at the forefront of what early learning people think about, but that’s changing.”
It’s all about education. “That’s the big battle we fight every day,” Colman said.
Changing social norms have helped too. Thanks in part to national and local efforts, from former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign to Seattle’s successful sugary drinks tax, early learning providers increasingly have been inspired to address health in their own work. When the DCYF asked for public comment on its proposed standards alignment, the Coalition and its partners urged the DCYF to raise standards for nutrition, physical activity, and screen time, and offered the DCYF technical input showing exactly which proposed standards could be strengthened to meet national benchmarks.
“When we shared that with the director of licensing, she said we made a great case,” Colman said. “It helped the agency buy into our approach.”