Success Stories

Healthier Child Care Settings in Vermont

Early Care

Parents of young children across Vermont can now have greater confidence that their child care provider is building the foundation for a heart-healthy life.

The Vermont Child Development Division (CDD) of the Agency for Human Services recently issued new regulations for home and center-based early child care facilities ensuring children in their care are served healthy foods, no sugary drinks and get plenty of active play time.  The Division touts that they have “engaged parents, providers, regulators and community members in a process of dialogue and consensus building to create regulations that are child centered, family friendly and fair to providers. This revision provides clarification and incorporates new information to update definitions, staff qualifications, effective program operation and changes in both program and regulatory practice.” 

Advocates for the new standards include the Eat Well Play More coalition co-chaired by the YMCA and the American Heart Association and the Building Bright Futures Early Childhood Wellness Committee as a partner in this effort. The coalition worked for several months to develop a list of 20 recommendations for the regulation revision process. Later in the fall, they hosted an early childcare conference featuring national experts on child nutrition policy, including Jessica Donze-Black with The Pew Charitable Trusts and Natasha Frost with the Public Health Law Center.

Parents and caregivers also provided feedback on the revisions, resulting in a thorough process and improved care for the thousands of children under age 6 in Vermont who are enrolled in such facilities. Highlights of the new regulations include better nutrition, less time watching TV or sitting on computers and more time being active:

  • More fruits, vegetables and whole grains
  • No sugary drinks
  • More physical activity
  • No screen time for children under the age of 2 and limited for older children

Flexibility for providers in child care regulations is a key component to ensure they are implemented accordingly. So, while the regulations require 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity for full day care and 30 minutes for half, when the weather is bad and children cannot go outside, providers only need to offer 30 minutes of physical activity. For infants, the important aspect of the regulations is ensuring there is plenty of opportunity to move freely and not strapped in a swing or stay in a crib. This is key to a child’s growth and development in the early stages of life. Limits for screen time are written according to age groups and no screen time is allowed for children under the age of two. For children over age two, screen time is limited to 30 minutes per day, except for school-aged children to use computers to do homework and for one two-hour movie a month.