Child care centers are busy places. Caring for children of all ages includes many schedules, curriculum, food preparation, naps, comforting tears, and not least of all, working hard to provide a safe and healthy child care environment. But did you know that child care staff often have a nurse to call upon to help coach them on how to promote healthy practices?
One such nurse is Ellen Flamiatos, a nurse with Public Health- Seattle & King County and the Child Care Health Consultation Program.
What is Child Care Health Consultation?
Ellen invited Best Starts to accompany her on a child care visit to share what she does to increase safety and health in early learning environments and help reduce inequities. Ellen has a number of child care centers with whom she has relationships and visits the infant care rooms on a monthly basis.
Upon entering the infant room, the caregivers warmly welcomed Ellen, making it very evident that there is a ongoing, trusting relationship. Ellen visited with the caregivers and answered a number of child development questions that they had for her. She also shared a resource on child development that she brought for the teachers.
Ellen proceeded to survey the room in order to provide health recommendations.
In addition to site visits, child care health consultants are an ongoing resource for child care providers. Consultants are often called for advice when there is a communicable disease outbreak at a center. They provide tips for controlling the breakout and have information to give to parents. A child care consultation team can include nutritionists and Licensed Mental Health Consultants among other roles, able to provide healthy nutrition guidance and developmental and behavioral help. Child care consultation teams work alongside child care providers to help refer families to appropriate needed services and also offer education and training for child care staff.
Best Starts for Kids’ Upcoming Funding Opportunities
Later this week, on Thursday, Best Starts will release the first of two new funding opportunities to build teams of child care health consultants in communities across King County. This RFP will support the development and maintenance of safe and healthy environments that promote the physical, social, and emotional well-being of all children in care in King County. It will also aim to reduce inequities in health outcomes among children in child care by providing supportive solutions in practices and policies to prevent child care suspension and expulsion and expand services to child care providers who do not currently have access to health supports and resources.
You can expect two categories within this RFP:
- Expand models similar to the public health model and
- Explore and support potentially new models that are community informed so that child care health consultation services are culturally and linguistically appropriate and responsive and valued by cultural and geographic communities.
We recognize that child care health consultation requires a broad range of expertise in health and working with young children, and strongly encourage partnerships and collaborations.
Save the Date for the second child care health consultation RFP scheduled for February 1st. This RFP will fund one organization to lead systems development work for child care health consultation. This work will build the system of child care health by connecting service delivery and resources and strategically integrating this work into larger early learning, health, and other systems.
These RFPs were informed by conversations with child care providers – including centers, family home care, and informal caregivers such as family, friends, and neighbors – who shared their health and safety needs, concerns, and hopes for this investment area. We are grateful for their input that helped shape the upcoming RFPs.