Offering Child Care Providers The Support They Need to Help Children Thrive

Originally posted to the Best Starts for Kids blog. Best Starts for Kids is a King County initiative that strengthens families and communities so that babies are born healthy, children thrive and establish a strong foundation for life, and young people grow into happy, healthy adults. Public Health — Seattle & King County helps implement Best Starts for Kids.

Public Health–Seattle & King County has had a Child Health Consultation program for decades. Thanks to Best Starts for Kids funding, we have expanded our geographic and community reach to offer more child health consultation services.

Whether they work at a center, are based at home, are informal caregivers, or are in a preschool classroom, King County’s child care providers are dedicated to the healthy development and school readiness of all the children in their care. The Child Care Health Consultation program offers free consultation with public health nurses and other specialists in health education and child development. In 2018, more than 500 child care providers and caregivers participated.

Making child care environments safer and healthier

Last Thursday, our seven Child Care Health Consultant partners met with Executive Constantine at the Northwest Center to celebrate their collaboration and share learnings. Childcare providers want to make sure their centers and homes are safe and healthy, but don’t always know where to go for recommendations and resources. That’s why Best Starts for Kids has invested $6.9 million over the course of three years in Child Care Health Consultation for both Service Delivery programs and Systems Development work. Public Health Seattle & King County has offered Child Care Health Consultation services for decades and Best Starts for Kids funding is increasing the number of Child Care Health Consultants available to improve the health and safety of kids throughout King County. We are also investing in Consultation teams to reach providers who haven’t been served for a variety of reasons including language, culture, and geography. Cultural fit matters!

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Child Care Health Consultation partners shared directly with Executive Constantine how they provide strength-based, trauma-informed training and consultation across a broad range of physical, social and emotional health needs and concerns to childcare centers, in-home childcare providers and family, friend and neighbor caregivers. The multidisciplinary teams may include nurses, mental health consultants, nutritionists, and/or community health workers. Regular site visits build relationships and trust, and consultants are also available on demand.

The partners shared stories that highlighted the collaboration happening to benefit children all across King County. This may look like the following:

  • Coaching on how to review health policies, records and plans for kids which can increase the number of kids getting the vaccines they need
  • Supporting healthy practices like handwashing which can decrease the number days kids are sick and can’t attend childcare
  • Providing support around behavioral challenges and classroom management which can decrease the number of kids who are expelled from childcare
  • Increasing child care provider confidence and competency, which can result in behavior changes, such as improved safe sleep practices

Meeting kids and families where they are, including child care 

Last March, our partners at Encompass in North Bend welcomed Executive Constantine for a site visit to see how Child Care Health Consultation operates in both a daycare center and an in home daycare.

“We work with the teacher to look beyond the behavior,” shared Megan Walsh, Behavioral Health Manager for Encompass. “By addressing the need underneath, we can make a big difference in the classroom.” Her Encompass colleague Caitlin Young, a Public Health Nurse, added “Many of our families are working families. They struggle to get to therapy sessions before or after school. The best way to support them is to integrate therapy in the classroom. We get the work done here.”

Want to learn more about how Child Care Health Consultation is a strength-based resource for child care providers? Hear directly from our Best Starts Program Manager below:

Learn more about our seven Child Care Health Consultation partners and the communities they serve HERE (scroll to bottom of page).

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