By using the information in this self-learning module to perform the required activities, you can help give children and their mothers a life-long health benefit! This Self Learning Module is based on an online resource kit developed by the Wisconsin Partnership for Activity and Nutrition. This kit contains two important tools that centers can use to become breastfeeding friendly. To earn Professional Development credit for this module from ECELS, follow these instructions:

This workshop teaches early learning practitioners how to recognize and manage occupational health risks, drawing on the content in Caring for Our Children: the National Health and Safety Performance Standards. Addresses management of stress, infectious disease risks and musculo-skeletal (ergonomic) challenges intrinsic to providing child care. Includes assessment of personal and work-site health promotion strategies.

The CDC is a comprehensive source of information on public health issues, including immunization, sanitation, and infectious disease. The CDC provides a large library of information to the public on many topics. Some of the categories include: Diseases and Conditions; Emergency Preparedness & Response; Environmental Health; Life Stages & Populations; Healthy Living, Injury, Violence & Safety; Traveler's Health; Workplace Safety & Health. The CDC website includes a powerful search engine as well as alphabetical listings. Users will find fact sheets, videos, photos, posters, and other useful materials to download.


(From Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL),  American Academy of Pediatrics, and more)

Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL)
COVID-19 Best Practices for Early Childhood Education (ECE)
This page will help keep early childhood education (ECE) professionals informed on best practices for keeping children, staff and families safe and healthy as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

Face Coverings:
The Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) recognizes helping young children to be comfortable wearing face masks and to keep face masks on may be challenging. It is important to help children feel more secure wearing a face mask when around other children and adults.

The CDC COVID resource pages are recommended as the primary source of up-to-date and accurate information. As recommendations regarding the mitigation of COVID-19 continue to evolve, child care providers are urged to stay up-to-date on the most recent CDC Guidance for Operating Child Care.

Best Practices and Resources for Child Care Providers
Most children are used to wearing and seeing people in masks. Predictable and consistent routines around mask wearing can help young children feel comfortable and know what to expect. Treat mask wearing as an emerging skill. Support children in learning to wear a mask consistently to be healthy and safe by showing children how to wear their mask so it fits securely over their mouth and nose. Give positive feedback to children for their efforts and keep it playful!

Resources for Use with Children

American Academy of Pediatrics
• Mask Mythbusters: 5 Common Misconceptions about Kids & Cloth Face Coverings
Source: American Academy of Pediatrics

• Face Masks for children during COVID-19
Source: American Academy of Pediatrics

Coronavirus (COVID-19): How Wearing a Mask Helps Protect Against Infection (video)
Source: Nemours

• Wearing a Mask Social Story
Source: Autism Services, Education, Resources and Training Collaborative (ASSERT)

• Masks Toolkit
Source: University of Rochester Medical Center

Additional Parent Resources
• Tips for quarantined parents in the times of COVID-19
Source: American Psychological Association

 Updated 9/2021

Federal law requires that the publication called "Dietary Guidelines for Americans" must be reviewed, updated as necessary and published every 5 years. The 2020-2025 guidelines development process is underway now.  The guidelines emphasize calorie balance to achieve and sustain a healthy weight, as well as a focus on nutrient-dense foods and beverages. Policy-makers use these guidelines to develop educational materials and carry out nutrition-related programs. Use the weblink, Dietary Guidelines, to access the website of the United States Department of Agriculture for the current guidelines. Reviewed and reaffirmed 5/2018

Drinking water should be available indoors and outdoors all day. Milk is a fluid food. Milk should be served at meals or snacks where it is planned as part of the recommended intake for the child. Having ready access to drinking water is especially important on hot days except for infants. Infants who receive human milk or formula should receive extra human milk or formula, not water. Children should learn to drink water from a cup or, without mouthing the fixture, drink from a fountain as they can master these skills. Offer water as often as once an hour. No child should be allowed to have water by sucking continuously on a bottle or Sippy cup as it may interfere with proper nutrition. It is best to have children brush their teeth after at least one feeding. When children who have teeth eat and do not brush their teeth afterward, they should have a drink of water to rinse the food from their teeth.

More resources about water and other drinks for children: 

Reviewed and reaffirmed 6/2021

Many families find it hard to schedule mealtimes when family members eat together. It may seem that getting everyone to choose and eat healthful food is enough. Lessons children learn by eating with family members are important too.

“Eat Together PA” is a campaign of The Pennsylvania Nutrition Education Network (PA NEN). The nearly 1500 member organization receives USDA funds through the PA Department of Human Services. PA NEN offers nutrition resources, fact sheets, budgeting information, recipes, cooking tips and more. PA NEN members include dietitians, public health professionals, educators, chefs, food service directors, child care providers, WIC counselors, and many others.

The PA NEN website includes information about why eating together matters. Look there for practical tips about how to start having better family breakfasts and dinners together. The PA NEN website offers these tips:
  Children learn from watching you: Smile when you eat your fruits and vegetables. You may not know it, but your child is looking at the foods you eat and how much you like to eat them. Choose healthy, and they will eat like you!
  Make time to talk: Dinner is time for every-one to talk—a chance to chat positively, yet honestly—even if you don’t have all the answers!
  Have technology-free time: Silence all the cell phones. Turn off the computer, tab-lets and TV. Many people spend a big part of their day watching screen devices. Schedule some of this time to share a meal and a pleasant conversation.
  Make mealtime a family experience: Cook family favorites, share a meal, shop with a family member for food, and share the work of cleaning up after a meal. Everyone can help!
  Give children a chance to choose: Let them decide which vegetable to include with some meals. They will want to eat the foods they picked.
  Make the healthy choice, the easy choice: Have fruits and vegetables washed, cut and handy for snacks.
  Enjoy each other while enjoying meals: Eating meals together helps to strength-en relationships with one another.

How to Start
  Ease into it: Try setting a goal of eating to-gether once or twice a week.
  Start simple: You can always prepare an easy breakfast recipe like oatmeal. Even pre-pare the meal ahead of time. Just store it in the refigerator until it’s time to reheat and eat it.
  Create calm: Phones, TV, computer, video games and even the radio can interrupt your meal. Turn all or them off to help everyone relax.
  Get everyone involved: Make a list of tasks and let family members choose which they will do. Ideas include: shopping, choosing a healthful food for breakfast or dinner, setting or clearing the table and/or making the meal.
  Relax and connect: Agree to talk about problems at a time other than mealtime.

Adapted from website, part of USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Published 10/5/15 at
Editor: Susan S. Aronson, MD, FAAP. Contact ECELS at: 484-446-3003 or 800-24-ECELS; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; PA AAP, Rose Tree Corporate Center, Bldg II, Suite 3007,1400 N. Providence Road, Media, PA 19063.

Resources to support Children with Special Health Care Needs, Care Plans, Process to Support Enrollment of a Child with Special Needs, Asthma Action Plan, Food Allergy, Epilepsy support. See below:

10-4-24 OCDEL Releases Special Announcement

  • Extended Suspension of Regulatory Provisions: Pursuant to Act 73 of 2021, the suspension of various regulatory provisions under the state disaster emergency declaration that are currently in effect and which were set to expire on September 30, 2021, are now extended until further notice. 
  • ELRC Policy Announcement 21 #08 Keystone STARS Designation Extensions : The Announcement provides information regarding granting one-year extensions to all Keystone STARS Designations effective Oct. 1, 2021 through Sept. 30, 2022, as providers navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant early childhood education (ECE) staffing crisis. 
  • Delayed New Streamlined Keystone STARS Designation System Rollout Message : In response to the increasing demands on early learning programs across PA due to the rise in COVID-19 cases and pandemic conditions, OCDEL is delaying Keystone STARS designations for one year and the go-live date for the new streamlined Keystone STARS Designation System in the PD Registry.

COVID Vaccine Booster Information

On Friday, Sept. 24, 2021, the CDC issued the recommendation for Comirnaty Pfizer-BioNTech booster doses for the following populations, at least six months following the second dose of their Pfizer primary series:

  • people 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings aged 18 and above should receive a booster of the Pfizer-BioNTech Vx,
  • people aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions should receive a booster of the Pfizer-BioNTech Vx,
  • For more info on the booster dose, click here.

COVID-19 Vaccination for Pregnant People to Prevent Serious Illness, Deaths, and Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes

The CDC recommends urgent action to increase COVID-19 vaccination among people who are pregnant, recently pregnant (including those who are lactating), who are trying to become pregnant now, or who might become pregnant in the future. CDC strongly recommends COVID-19 vaccination either before or during pregnancy because the benefits of vaccination outweigh known or potential risks. Read more.

CDC Frequently Asked Influenza (Flu) Questions: 2021-2022 Season (Reviewed 10-6-21)

Includes information on what’s new for the 2021-2022 flu season, including guidance related to COVID-19.

Healthy Children New Ages & Stages Texting Program Has Launched: Now parents can receive important messages from and the AAP right on their cell phone! This program is appropriate for parents who are pregnant or who have children up to the age of five. Sign up here to begin receiving AAP-approved texts. 

Celebrate Dental Hygiene Month and National Brush Day

October is Dental Hygiene Month! The following resources provide information on teeth brushing in child care:

November 1st is National Brush Day!  The DTA Foundation’s National Brush Day campaign encouraging families to brush together the day after Halloween (and every day). Download National Brush Day Campaign materials here.

Supporting the mental and emotional health of the early care and education workforce beyond COVID-19 - November 2, 2021 01:00 PM ET - How can we support the mental and emotional health of the early care and education workforce as they continue to serve children and families through the COVID-19 pandemic? Join Dr. Erin Berman, Ph.D. from the National Institute of Mental Health and Penn State Better Kid Care for a one-hour webinar focused on strategies educators and programs can use to prioritize wellness and create a culture of caring.

  • Influenza Vaccine for 2015-2016
  • Screen Time, Child Development and Nutrition
  • Organic Food – Is It Healthier?
  • Background Music and Noise Interferes with Language Learning?
  • Oral Health Screening Added to Routine Well-Child Visit Schedule
  • National Center on Health—Materials All Early Educators Can Use
  • Increasing Physical Activity in Afterschool Programs
  • Three Newly Revised and a List of All ECELS Self-Learning Modules
  • Eating Together - Mealtime Matters

This workshop uses the interactive curriculum from the Food Allergy Network. It includes a video and mock epinephrine (EpiPen) demonstration. Participants practice reading food labels to find hidden ingredients that are the same as common food allergens and learn the basics of food allergy and allergen types in foods. The group discusses how to modify the child care setting for a child with a food allergy, and a plan for handling a food allergy response. 

The FNIC federal website of the U.S. Department of Agriculture provides a directory to credible, accurate, and practical food and nutrition resources for consumers, nutrition and health professionals, educators and government personnel. You will find links to current obesity prevention websites on the home page of FNIC - Dietary Guidelines for Americans, core messages about healthy eating, Let's Move, My Plate Super Tracker and more. 12/2012

In America, 1 in 6 children may not know where they will get their next meal. The U.S. Department of Agriculture tracks this information. You may not know unless you ask parents about it.  Children without a stable supply of food may develop serious health problems. They may have poor growth and development. They may develop behavior difficulties. They may have frequent illnesses and hospitalizations. Some have iron deficiency anemia. 

View free, online demonstrations of step-by-step, easy ways to prepare foods for children's meals and snacks. Culinary Institute chefs show the proper techniques in 16 print and 51 brief video lessons. The foods are from the United States Department of Agriculture's collection of recipes for schools. The National Food Service Management Institute at the University of Mississippi hosts the website with this excellent professional development resource.

In addition to the videos and print lessons, the website offers six online courses that allow users to earn continuing education credits. The print and video lessons, online courses and USDA recipes are at

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.