If you already have a basic understanding of the ECE system from a federal, state, and local perspective and are ready to start new, or strengthen existing, state or community-level efforts to prevent obesity among children in ECE, use this Quick Start Action Guide to get started. It walks you through the following action steps:
All steps are most effectively pursued in partnership; they are the cornerstone of any successful endeavor to integrate obesity prevention within the ECE. Once you’ve built supportive partnerships, members can be organized to assess the extent to which each opportunity in the spectrum is being used effectively for obesity prevention efforts and determine which opportunities are the most feasible to pursue at this time. Approaches to doing such an assessment vary, but regardless of the approach taken,fully engaging your partners is critical. They are a key asset to the assessment process, and involving them throughout will help build consensus on which opportunities to pursue.
Overall, the information gathered to complete the worksheets in the Quick Start Action Guide should help to answer several key questions:
In considering past, current, and potential new opportunities to pursue, it is important to get targeted input from ECE providers. Two common methods for gathering input are focus groups and ECE provider surveys. Focus groups allow you to collect more in-depth information, to interact with ECE providers during the data collection process to assess non-verbal cues, and to gather information you might not think to include on a survey. Focus groups, however, are quite time-intensive for both you and providers, require staff to travel to a number of locations to meet providers, and don’t always provide information that reflects the general population (given that, typically, smaller numbers of ECE providers are interviewed).
Unlike focus groups, surveys allow you to reach larger numbers of providers with fewer resources. But, the information you receive is limited to the questions you include on the survey, and there is always the possibility that your questions might be misinterpreted. Several states have developed provider surveys to assess the current status of policies and practices related to nutrition, breastfeeding, physical activity, and screen time in facilities (see Kentucky and Rhode Island surveys for sample questions).
Combining the two assessment methods—for example, hosting a series of focus groups to inform the development of a statewide survey—is the most comprehensive approach.