Food-borne illness is very common. The risk of this type of illness increases in warm weather. Sending food from home and eating out-of-doors may allow perishable food to reach temperatures that foster bacterial growth. A 2011 study reported in the journal, Pediatrics measured temperatures of lunches that families packed and sent with their preschool children. The researchers found only 1.6% of lunches with perishable items were at safe temperature. The study was done in nine Texas child care centers and measured temperatures in the packed lunches of more than 700 preschoolers. Even when sent with ice packs, most of the lunches were at unsafe temperatures over an hour before the food was ready to be served. The message is clear: Early educators and families must adopt practices that ensure food is at a safe temperature before feeding it to children. 

In January 2007, ECELS/Healthy Child Care PA outlined the key gaps and necessary steps that ECELS recommends to improve the quality of early education and child care in Pennsylvania. This fact sheet provides data and talking points to guide policy-makers and other stakeholders seeking quality child care. Reviewed and reaffirmed 11/2012.

Early learning program directors or health professionals may use this self-learning module based on an interactive, multi-media 2 DVD set that describes the role and skills for performance as a child care health consultant.  Users may earn either 0.3 CEU units or 3 hours of U. of Pittsburgh CME. The 2 DVD set has the 5 video parts and includes the self-assessment as PDF documents.  It is free (for the cost of mailing) to Pennsylvania health professionals and Pennsylvania early education directors. To request the DVD, contact ECELS. Health professionals and early educators from outside Pennsylvania may purchase the DVD or Video series set for $99, and then complete and submit the on-line self-assessment to ECELS for CME/CEU credit. Download the instructions in the file below this description for the work required to complete the self-learning module. PA child care practitioners may submit completed work for review for credit by scanning the pages and attaching them to an e-mail, sending them by fax or by surface mail to ECELS. Be sure to follow the instructions in the “Important Reminders” box next to the list of self-learning modules on this webpage. (ECERS-ITERS: Space and Furnishings, Personal Care Routines, Program Structure, Parents and Staff. K7-C3-84 or K8-C3-98. This is a Level 3 Professional Development activity.  Successful completion earns 3 CME or 0.3 CEU credits from the University of Pittsburgh)  Updated 2/19/10.     

 In March 2014, Governor Tom Corbett and the Pennsylvania Insurance Department launched a new campaign to promote enrollment in the state’s Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP.) CHIP covers doctor visits for checkups or sick care, vaccines, dental care, eye care, prescriptions, mental health and more.

Now, more than 133,000 uninsured children in Pennsylvania have access to CHIP. All families need to do is apply! Do all you can to encourage families with children up to 19 years of age who do not have comprehensive health insurance to sign up.

For many families, CHIP is free - no copays or monthly premiums. Families with higher incomes may qualify for low-cost or at-cost CHIP. CHIP for any enrolled family includes the same comprehensive benefits. Families whose incomes fall below CHIP guidelines may enroll in Medical Assistance.

Low income children enrolled more than 30 years ago in a high quality early care and education program grew up to be healthier and better-achieving as adults. The Abecedarian Project reported long-term follow-up of children who were randomly selected to attend the Frank Porter Graham child care center from when they were infants to 5 years of age. The staff checked to be sure the children received recommended preventive health services. They provided good nutrition. They educated children, teachers and families about good health behaviors.

This online professional development opportunity is for directors and administrative staff in centers that serve 25 or more children and who are new users (subscribers) using the WellCareTrackerTM Internet application software, available from ECELS. The professional development experience involves working with the user-friendly internet application on any computer connected to the Internet to review children's health records, identify and track gaps in the children's required preventive health services. WellCareTrackerTM software uses the dates of preventive health care services entered for each child at any time thereafter to report whether the child is currently up to date, overdue or will be due in the next three months for specific services. In addition to reports for individual children that can be given to parents, the system produces a report for all the children entered. This report makes it easy to  track needed services and follow-up with families. Currently, the PA Department of Health is doing random audits of the immunization records that state regulations require child care programs keep on file to show children are up to date. The health reports should give information about screening tests and special needs too. WellCareTrackerTM lets staff make sure children have received all the services that they need to be healthy and ready to learn. In addition to being protected against vaccine preventable infectious disease, they need to be free of treatable conditions such as hearing and vision problems, anemia or lead poisoning. Look for the detailed description of the self-learning module on the left pane of the WellCareTracker(TM) home page at under "ECELS - Self Learning Module." PA child care practitioners may submit completed work for review for credit by scanning the pages and attaching them to an e-mail, sending them by fax or by surface mail to ECELS. Be sure to follow the instructions in the “Important Reminders” box next to the list of self-learning modules on this webpage. (ECERS-ITERS: Personal Care Routines, Program Structure. K7-C3-78 or K8-C3-91. 6/2017

Children die in hot vehicles every year. Thirty or more children die annually from heat stroke after being left unattended in vehicles.On sunny days the interior of vehicles heats up rapidly and gets very hot. This happens even on relatively mild or cool sunny days. On days when the outdoor temperature is just 72°F, the internal vehicle temperature can reach 117°F in an hour. Most of the temperature rise (80%) occurs in the first 30 minutes. On days when outdoor temperatures exceed 86°F, the temperature in a vehicle can quickly reach 134 to 154°F. Opening windows a small amount does not effectively decrease either the rate of heat rise or the maximum temperature reached. In fact, sunlight coming through open car windows makes the car work like an oven.

Steps for child care facilities to prevent illness. This approach is for all facilities, but will be especially helpful to those who want to meet the Pennsylvania standards for STARS.  Published in the February 2006 issue of Health Link Online. Updated 2/23/06. Reviewed and reaffirmed 11/2012.

Learn how to check immunization records for children in your care. View online videos and learn about vaccines on the website of the Vaccine Education Center of The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. The instructions include a link to the website of the National Immunization Program of the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) and CDC's FREE handy software tools to check vaccine records for individual children in your care and adults who care for the children.   Pennsylvania child care practitioners may earn professional development credit by submitting your answers to questions about what you learned with your evaluation of vaccine records for at least 5 children in your care. Follow the instructions in the "Important Reminders" box beside the list of self-learning modules for ECELS to review your work to award professional development credit.  (ECERS-ITERS: Program Structure. K7-C2-78. 6/2017

As you prepare for fall enrollment, now is a good time for early care and education programs to make sure all staff are up-to-date with recommended immunizations.  Getting vaccinated is an important part of staying healthy.  Routine immunization of adults is the best way to protect yourself against vaccine-preventable diseases.  Several of the vaccines routinely recommended for adults will prevent diseases that can be spread to children in the child care setting, including pertussis(whooping cough), varicella(chicken pox), measles, mumps, rubella and influenza.

Start your influenza vaccine efforts now too!  All children 6 months of age and older and staff should get influenza vaccine.