In many indicators, “volunteer” is also used. When we use it, we mean unpaid adults who
have contact with the children. For example, your program may have students from a local
university who volunteer their time to the program, engaging with the children, to accumulate
We use “program” throughout the book to represent the wide variety of environments
in which children receive care, including family child care homes, center and school-based
programs, and community programs. We deliberately use “child care program,” “early care and
education program,” and “early childhood program.” We know the early childhood field uses
each term broadly, and we want to be inclusive. Healthy Children, Healthy Lives is intended for
any program serving young children, schoolagers included.
Family Child Care Providers
We know that some early childhood resources don’t feel relevant to family child care (FCC) pro-
viders. We don’t want this to be true of Healthy Children, Healthy Lives. We wrote this book with
FCC providers in mind, as well as center and preschool staff members. We understand that the
FCC provider is often the teacher, the custodian, the cook, the music teacher, the nurse, and the
administrator all rolled into one. If this is true of you, please apply each term we use—teacher, staff
member, leader—to your different roles. We are confident that the practices presented in Healthy
Children, Healthy Lives are just as applicable to and achievable in FCC as they are center-based
programs. No matter the type of building or program you work in, it is simply essential that all
professionals in the early childhood field understand and prioritize children’s health and wellness.
After you select a part or a section or a few sections as your starting point, read through the
introductory material. Then you’ll be ready to use the checklists to set goals. You may be able to
check off some indicators right away, based on what you already know about your program. You
may need to observe, ask questions, or find documents to check off other indicators. Your evalu-
ation will provide the greatest value if you consider each indicator thoughtfully and honestly.
Checking off indicators representing practices you hope to do or only do occasionally will not give you
an accurate picture of your program. And without an accurate picture of your program, setting
realistic goals and improving practices will be difficult.
Once you have completed the checklists from a section or two, you may feel ready to begin
planning some program improvements. First, look at the indicators you did not check off. Are
there one or more practices your program could easily add? Or maybe you’re interested in work-
ing toward something more difficult. Among the unchecked indicators, is there a challenging
practice or two you’re ready to tackle? Use the Healthy Children, Healthy Lives action plan to
record your plan of action and to document your work toward the goals you want to achieve.
On the action plan, indicate the part, section, and goal you want to work toward. It is
helpful to always keep the goal in mind as you work toward program improvements; the goal
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