Getting Started

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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:

ACTION STEPS

  • Assess Partnerships: Complete the Partnership Assessment Worksheet to identify who should be at the table for planning state efforts to address obesity prevention focused on the ECE setting. Learn who is who from both the ECE system and the obesity prevention/public health arenas.
  • Create a State Profile: Use the State Profile Template to summarize background information needed for your state coalition/partnership to make informed decisions regarding strengthening existing efforts and pursuing new opportunities.
  • Determine Feasibility of Opportunities: Use the Spectrum of Opportunities Rating Worksheet to identify new opportunities worthy of consideration and current efforts that might be improved and rate the feasibility of each to help develop consensus on what to pursue.
  • Develop an Action Plan and Logic Model: Use the Action Plan Worksheet and example logic model to create a specific plan to pursue new opportunities or strengthen existing efforts.
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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.
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Overall, the information gathered to complete the worksheets in the Quick Start Action Guide should help to answer several key questions:

  • What are the gaps in current policies and programs?
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  • Are there fixed timelines or funding cycles that make an opportunity timely to pursue now? For example, state licensing regulations may be up for review on a specific schedule, such as every 5 years.
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  • What resources are currently available or might be reasonably obtained in the near future? Is there one opportunity for change that requires the least amount of resources but may provide a big yield?
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  • What is the political will in your state? Are some opportunities off-limits from the standpoint of current political and agency leadership?
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  • Are key stakeholders more interested in making improvements focused on one specific area, such as breastfeeding, or are they willing to engage in changes that encompass nutrition, physical activity, breastfeeding, and screen time reduction comprehensively?
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SEEK INPUT FROM ECE PROVIDERS

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).
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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).
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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.