Pre-service training, also known as certification in some states, refers to a program or series of trainings required for adults to become ECE providers and work in a state-governed ECE facility. Certification is typically obtained through coursework or completing degree programs, although some states require additional training beyond an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Professional development refers to ongoing professional training for current ECE providers. States typically specify the total number of continuing education credits, the frequency of obtaining these credits, and the content areas for training in their licensing and administrative regulations.
Pre-service and professional development requirements vary from state to state, but many states specify a set of core knowledge and competencies that define what effective ECE providers should understand and be able to do in order to be effective.1 Obesity prevention strategies can be incorporated into states’ core knowledge and competencies for ECE providers and corresponding pre-service and professional development training in several ways:
In May 2011, the Nevada (NV) State Legislature passed a law requiring at least 2 of the 15 hours of annual training required for ECE providers to be in the area of wellness, health, and safety of children. Specific areas of training may include nutrition, physical activity, and obesity prevention. The bill was sponsored by the NV’s Fitness and Wellness Council, a state-mandated committee made up of high-level officials and the Chronic Disease Prevention and Wellness Promotion committee. The bill champions were a state senator and the state’s chief health officer. Coalition members, leaders, and partners from Southern NV Health District and Washoe Health District worked with other stakeholders to provide education, research, and advocacy to support the bill. The bill took effect on July 1, 2011, and affects the work of more than 573 ECE providers in Nevada.
The impetus for drafting the bill came in March 2010 when the NV State Health Division (NSHD) staff reported to the Fitness and Wellness Council (FAWC) information contained in an analysis of state licensing regulations funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which ranked NV number two among states for having high quality regulations to help prevent obesity in the ECE setting.2 One of the items hindering the state from being ranked first was ECE provider training on nutrition and physical activity. Senator Valerie Wiener, a member of FAWC, felt this was attainable through new legislation. As a result, she developed what became SB27. Throughout the legislative process, the NSHD provided background information and administrative support. Through the dedication of legislative champions, Senator Wiener and Dr. Tracey Green, the legislature passed unanimously. Funding for education modules was leveraged from CDC’s Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) funds. Thus, there was no fiscal impact on the state or ECE centers.
Through the use of CPPW funds, NSHD supported the development of a training curriculum and provided opportunities for trainings at conferences and summits. Six training modules are being developed—three on nutrition, and three on physical activity—for ECE providers. The NSHD’s Chronic Disease Prevention & Health Promotion Section has contracted with the University of NV Cooperative Extension and is working in partnership to create the modules, which will be available online to all ECE providers free of charge. The Health Division’s Wellness program plans to continue its support of training modules in the future by leveraging federal monies via grants and other mechanisms.