Early Childhood

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About

The Early Childhood (EC) working group is a team of EC researchers and leaders committed to improving the health of young children through improved research and practice in out‐of‐home care settings. The working group is a collaborative effort of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Healthy Eating Research (HER) and Active Living Research (ALR) programs and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Nutrition and Obesity Policy Research and Evaluation Network (NOPREN) and Physical Activity Policy Research Network (PAPRN). The HER national program office, based at Duke University and the University of Minnesota, serves as the coordinating body.

Membership in the working group is open to all with an interest in obesity prevention research and evaluation in the childcare/early childhood setting, including on topics related to nutrition, physical activity, and sedentary behaviors. The primary population of interest is children ages 0 to 5 years in a variety of out‐of‐home settings, including child care (both centers and homes), preschool, pre‐Kindergarten, and Head Start.

Mission

The mission of the Early Childhood (EC) working group is to build a multi-disciplinary network of researchers and leaders from academia, non‐profit organizations, government, and other funding agencies to increase the amount and quality of research and best practices in promoting optimal physical and cognitive development through the promotion of healthy eating, and to support and facilitate the development and implementation of evidence‐informed policies. Special emphasis is placed on equity and addressing the needs of lower‐income and racial/ethnic minority populations at highest risk for low diet quality and/or obesity.

Using an online group of multidisciplinary researchers, advocates, government employees, Extension professionals, practitioners and policy makers, the Early Childhood working group will support nationwide learning collaboratives that focus on:

  1. Increasing EC professionals’ effectiveness in addressing issues in the area of nutrition, physical activity, child development, and childhood obesity prevention research, policy and practice by providing a platform for collaboration and information sharing.
  2. Foster creativity and innovation in research and advocacy efforts by utilizing shared, objective methods to evaluate outcomes, ensuring efforts are not being duplicated, and encouraging collaborations on research or advocacy projects.
  3. Advance knowledge-base and quality of EC research with special focus on low-income and racial/ethnic minority populations.

The goals of the Early Childhood working group are (1) to develop and maintain learning collaborative(s) to support professional development of researchers and (2) to provide a platform for information sharing and networking in order to advance science in the area of nutrition, physical activity, child development, and childhood obesity prevention research and practice in early care and education, home, community, and clinical settings.

Key Activities and Findings

Activities and Objectives:

  1. Establish a research base to support changes to EC policies, environments, and practices in early childhood education, home, community, and clinical settings.
    1. Identify gaps in the early childhood knowledge base as it relates to healthy eating, nutrition, childhood obesity, and optimal child development.
    2. Build evidence to support changes to EC policies, environments, and practices in ECE, home, community, and clinical settings.
    3. Increase the amount and quality of EC research (increased grants and publications).
    4. Share information about funding for EC obesity prevention research and evaluation
  1. Build a vibrant, multidisciplinary network and support ongoing professional development within the EC community.
    1. Recruit and support new investigators through collaboration in working groups, mentored leadership, building connections, and other opportunities.
    2. Create opportunities for learning and collaboration (e.g., commissioned research projects, grants, publications, presentations).
    3. Share information and resources among members of the workgroup (e.g., tools, methods, intervention materials).
    4. Share information on research with minority, low income populations across childcare contexts (family childcare vs. center, rural)
  1. Maintain a Nationwide Learning Collaborative.
    1. Support collaborative projects developed by the learning collaborative for continued learning and professional development.
    2. Identify, where possible, funding sources to support collaborative projects.
    3. Support engagement of members of learning collaborative in collaborative projects.
    4. Encourage members of the working group to share current projects they are working on with the learning collaborative

Resources

Download the EC Overview document for more information about the work group

Download the article ‘Best Practices for Collaboration in Research’ by Lucy Delgadillo, Utah State University, for more information on the Learning Collaborative model

Click on the dates below to view recordings of each presentation. Click on the presentation title to access PPT slides.

2016

July 2016: The Smart Moms Study’ (Brooke Nezami) and ‘Let’s Work Together Towards Children’s Nutrition’: Building a Bridge between Childcare Providers and Parents for Promoting Child Health (Dipti Diev)

August 2016: Changes in Obesity Rates for Young Children: Interpretations Using Different Data Sources and Statistical Methods (Asheley Skinner)

September 2016: The Role of Responsive Parenting in Pediatric Obesity Prevention’ (Jennifer Savage Williams)

October 2016: ‘Teacher-Led Preschool Physical Activity Interventions’ (Sofiya Alhassan)

November 2016: ‘Marketing for Baby and Toddler Food and Drinks: What is it Teaching Parents?’ (Jennifer Harris) and  Health Equity in Early Childhood Education’ (Krista Scott of ChildCare Aware of America)

December 2016: “State Policies Governing Early Care and Education Programs”

2017

January 2017: ‘Advancing Early Childhood Development from Science to Scale’ (Maureen Black)

February 2017: Young Minds and the Media’ (Yolanda Reid Chassiakos)

March 2017: ‘Feeding Guidelines for Infants and Young Toddlers: A Responsive Parenting Approach’ (Rafael Perez-Escamilla)

May 2017: Using Systems Science to Engage Communities in Obesity Prevention: A Focus on Community Coalitions(Christina Economos and Erin Hennessy)

June 2017: ‘Physical Activity During the Early Years: Guideline Development from a Canadian Perspective’ (Brian Timmons) and ‘Physical Activity for Americans: Plans for Recommendations for Young Children’ (Russell Pate)

July 2017:  Healthy Eating Research’s Early Childhood Learning Collaborative (Megan Lott and Emily Welker)

August 2017: EAT (Ecological Approach to) Family Style Dining: Responsive Feeding in Childcare (Dipti Diev) + Discussion of Working Group Mission & Goals

September 2017: Research, Collaboration, and Funding for Obesity Prevention in the ECE Setting (Caree J. Cartwright)

October 2017: Updates on two research projects – Compliance with 5-2-1-0 Obesity Recommendations Among Preschool-Aged Children Attending Childcare + the Association Between Maternal Eating Behaviors and the Styles with which they Feed Their Infants’ ( Kristen Copeland + Amrik Singh Khalsa)

November 2017: Learning Collaborative Facilitated Discussion: Goals, Planned Activities, and Next Steps (Frost, Diev, Tovar)

 

Contacts

EC Working Group CoChairs

Natasha Frost, JD, Staff Attorney, Public Health Law Center

Dipti Dev, PhD, MS, Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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For more information, please contact:

Megan Lott, MPH, RDN

Senior Associate, Policy and Research, RWJF Healthy Eating Research

Duke University

Megan.lott@duke.edu

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ALR: www.activelivingresearch.org

HER: www.healthyeatingresearch.org

NOPREN: www.nopren.org

PAPRN: http://paprn.wustl.edu

Revised: 07-16