What is the CARE research project about?
–CARE: CAring and REaching for Health is a research study evaluating new worksite wellness programs designed specifically for child care centers and their employees focused on improving physical, mental, emotional, and/or financial health. The study is currently recruiting 104 child care centers and 416 child care staff (four staff per center) from across North Carolina to participate in this study. Centers will either receive a healthy lifestyles program or a healthy finances program. These programs will last six months.
Why focus on the health of child care providers?
–In the US, there are more than 120,000 child care centers. The individuals who work at these centers represent a very large and growing population. The work is demanding and the pay modest. Often, these individuals experience health problems that affect their quality of life.
Worksite-based interventions are an effective strategy for improving employees' physical activity and diet behaviors. However, there have been almost no efforts to create worksite programs that can be implemented through child care centers. There are amazing opportunities to mobilize this workforce to be more physically active, make better food choices, and create a healthier environment for themselves at work and for the children in their care.
What do past participants say about CARE?
–"Programs like CARE are needed to increase teacher's health awareness while supporting and motivating them to improve their health!"
- Katherine Davis, Director, The Growing Place Child Care Center
"I feel that CARE is vitally important because it focuses on one of the key components of a high quality center, the teaching staff. Often child care providers are thought of as babysitters and their daily efforts to improve the lives of young children go unrecognized. Programs like CARE heighten public awareness around the need to recognize and appreciate the hard work and love that providers give to our children on a daily basis."
- Kim Draughn, Director, Lulu's Child Enrichment Center
The CARE project represents an important and innovative first step toward addressing the health of child care providers via a comprehensive, multi-level intervention designed to promote physical activity and other health behaviors. If proven effective, this intervention could be disseminated to child care centers throughout North Carolina, and nationally.
What is the overall goal of this research study?
–The primary aim of this study is to evaluate the effects of the Healthy Lifestyles program and the Healthy Finances program on a variety of health outcomes among participating child care providers. Our primary interest is to assess physical activity levels, but we will also evaluate the impact of these programs on eating habits, weight, smoking habits, emotional health, and sleep; as well as the any changes that might occur in the work environment. The overall goal of this research is to find new ways to improve the health of child care workers and the child care center work environment. We believe that results of this study will make a difference here in North Carolina, and possibly, on a national basis as well.
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