News release: SHIP training, coaching helps child care providers give young children a healthy start

News Release
January 6, 2017

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SHIP training, coaching helps child care providers give young children a healthy start

Family and small, independent child care providers were more likely to offer vegetables, increase kids’ physical activity and support infants’ breastfeeding after receiving trainings and coaching from Minnesota’s Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP).

SHIP grantees covering all 87 counties across the state provided training, coaching and follow-up with 768 child care providers between 2013 and 2015. An evaluation study of this initiative focused on its impact among family and small, independent child care providers, which more commonly serve lower income and rural families. Smaller child care providers also often lack access to such training. The study found that child care providers who received this locally based training and support through SHIP were significantly more likely to adopt policies and practices that help protect against childhood obesity.

“Minnesota was among only four states to see obesity rates fall between 2014 and 2015. The SHIP program was a big part of this success by increasing access to healthy foods and exercise,” said Lt. Governor Tina Smith. “I thank the Department of Health and Minnesota child care providers for their ongoing efforts to give our children a healthy start and combat childhood obesity.”

The study found that training and support provided through SHIP resulted in these practice and policy changes:

  • 13 percent increase in providers offering vegetables to children at least twice per day (from 40 to 53 percent);
  • 21 percent increase in providers giving toddlers at least 90 minutes of active play time daily (from 57 to 78 percent); and
  • 25 percent increase in providers meeting at least six recommended practices for breastmilk storage, labeling and handling (from 68 to 93 percent).

“More than two-thirds of Minnesota’s infants, toddlers and preschoolers regularly attend child care,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Ed Ehlinger. “This SHIP support of child care providers is an effective investment in the current and future health of the state’s youngest generation.”

Childhood obesity is a serious health and economic concern in Minnesota. Being overweight puts children at risk of physical and psychosocial health problems such as type 2 diabetes, asthma, and depression, and increases their chance of becoming overweight or obese as adults. Obese children who become obese adults face more severe health consequences and incur roughly $19,000 more in direct medical costs over the course of their lifetime compared to children who remain normal weight into adulthood.

Proportion of Child Care Providers Meeting Best Practices

The best practices promoted by SHIP contribute to high quality child care and are a quality indicator for Minnesota’s child care quality improvement and rating system, Parent Aware. The study also found significant increases in the proportion of providers who adopted written policies reflecting current practice on healthy eating, physical activity and breastfeeding. Written policies help to institutionalize and sustain practice changes. They can also serve as communication tools for talking with parents about healthy eating and activity practices that have been implemented in the child care program.

Proportion of Child Care Providers with Wirtten Policies that Reflect Current Practice

Read the full study at Statewide Health Improvement Partnership Evaluation Studies.


Media inquiries:

Scott Smith
MDH Communications Office