Early Care

The Health Empowered Center

Funded by

What Healthy, Early Learning Looks Like

We partner with providers of all kinds – Child Care Learning Centers, Family Child Care Learning Homes, Head Start, Easter Seals Centers, and Pre-K programs – to build environments that bring the greatest benefit to children in the critical first five years of life.

Learn more about our impact ⟶

Step into a Health Empowered early care center, and you’ll see a vibrant world of colors and sounds, moving and talking, and nutritious foods to touch, taste and share. Essentially, more of what kids need to thrive from birth to age five – the crucial time when 90% of brain development happens. Exposing children to a range of high-quality interactions and experiences with trusted caregivers can optimize their mental, physical, and social development in these first five years, and far into the future.

In every way, Health Empowered early care centers are deeply committed to fostering – and modeling – behaviors that support healthy growth and development. That means that children and teachers are engaged together in –

  • Age-appropriate movement and active play
  • Healthy eating, snacking and drinking throughout the day
  • Language development – that rich and changing flow of words and stories that builds language and helps young children learn important social cues, like taking turns or following directions
  • Showing parents what skills, foods, and active learning challenges to enjoy at home

Each Health Empowered early care center looks different – no two are exactly the same. Each center assesses nutrition and physical activity practices and determines areas for improvement that best suits the needs of their children, families and staff, but all are backed by coaching and support that lasts throughout the relationship.

How It Happens

Dedicated onsite support

Look to your Health Educator for training, resources and ongoing technical support. This friendly personal coach will connect your Center Health Team to staff trainings and classroom lessons, activities and taste tests. They can even point you to outside resources, like grant opportunities.

Dynamic professional development

Active learning works best for children – and adults. In fun and flexibly scheduled training, your Center Health Team will determine which nutrition and physical activity goals make sense for your center’s unique culture and climate. In our highly interactive process, you’ll develop the action plan that works for your children and staff. Your staff can earn DECAL Bright from the Start training credit, too.

Healthy child and family engagement

Being a Health Empowered early care center supports the good things you’re already doing with even more approaches to active learning. Every activity we suggest is linked to Georgia Early Learning & Development (GELD) standards. But the real magic starts with Model Lessons – as we take you step-by-step through fresh interactions with your young learners.

From our lessons linked to storybooks, to our taste tests, gardening and physical activity kits, we give you the tools and strategies to spark healthier learning and life choices for your children and their families.

This material was funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — SNAP. This institution is an equal opportunity provider. For the USDA’s full non-discrimination statement, click here.

Hit all the right milestones.

Develop and bloom into a place where good health and early learning are ever-expanding – for children, teachers and families.

Become a Health Empowered Center.

Eat. Move. Talk!

Powerful, everyday actions that can change a child’s life

Eat. Move. Talk! is an early learning toolkit – and teacher training – that offers practical strategies and resources for engaging children in small, everyday actions that grow into life-changing behaviors.

Eat. Move. Talk! helps teachers see how important it is to model healthy eating, moving and talking with the young children in their care – and to encourage families to adopt these same behaviors at home.

Did you know?

Early exposure to healthy foods, creative movement and exercise, and a rich range of words and conversations can change the arc of a child’s life. Children immersed in these powerful experiences in the first five years of life grow up more socially and academically engaged, more active and less-often overweight – or at risk for heart disease or Type 2 Diabetes – and more likely to graduate from high school.

It takes a rich flow of many different types of words and sounds to prepare young children to read.

In fact, the number and types of words a child hears before birth and beyond – through stories, conversation and songs – are the best predictor of reading proficiency by third grade, the age when children transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” And being able to read fluently by the end of third grade is associated with more positive academic, health and economic outcomes in later life.

“I have been doing this for 23 years now and sometimes find myself needing motivation. I did receive it in this class. I’ve been trying new recipes with my little ones, and we are making memories. I didn’t know how they would react when they saw we were using fresh spinach in our smoothies, but they drank it all! I have learned there are ways of getting veggies in our picky little eaters.”

Dawn Bradley’s Learning Center

Eat. Move. Talk! – Paying it Forward

Eat. Move. Talk! was developed together with the Georgia Department of Public Health, the Atlanta Speech School, Emory University, and other partners and first launched in three pilot communities in Dalton, Clarkston, and Valdosta, Georgia.

Now the program is being expanded through special learning collaboratives that will provide Eat. Move. Talk! training and peer support to early care providers in high-need communities across the state.

We are grateful to Nemours Children’s Health System for their gracious support in funding the first network of learning collaboratives, but more help is needed.

Right now we are seeking funding to launch the next wave of learning collaboratives. In measures big and small, with your support, we can expand this important work. To learn more about how you can contribute, email Development Director, Lee Ann Else.

Every child nourished, active, and talking is our goal.

Growing Fit

Get into Growing Fit

Get into Growing Fit – the training and easy-to-use toolkit for developing a center health and wellness policy that supports and grows Early Care and Education best practices. The Growing Fit toolkit supports the state’s efforts to improve early care and education quality through its Quality℠ Rated system.

The Growing Fit toolkit – and associated one-day training – will lead your staff through the process, step by step, as you –

  • Assess your center’s nutrition and physical activity practices
  • Build a plan for meeting new health goals
  • Create a policy that supports and sustains your achievements

The Growing Fit toolkit is used by early care centers as part of the Health Empowered process. But it’s also available as a standalone resource to any early care center interested in building a health and wellness policy. The toolkit includes –

  • Explanation on the importance of having a wellness policy
  • Self-assessment tool for evaluating center practices
  • Success stories from other early care centers
  • Healthy eating and physical activity resources
  • Suggestions and examples for writing the policy

Growing Fit springs from our collaborative partnership with the Georgia Department of Public Health, Georgia Shape and the Georgia Department of Early Learning/Bright from the Start. To date, HealthMPowers has trained 232 educators from 94 centers in Growing Fit, reaching 7,785 children.

The updated Growing Fit toolkit supports the state’s latest changes to the Quality Rated Child Care system – including new licensing requirements for early care providers.

“Putting our Quality Rated portfolio together was so much easier because of Growing Fit. I thought, ‘Hey, we’ve done all this with HealthMPowers, so we’re ready. We’ve got this!”

Mrs. Goeber,
Early care teacher

Ready. Set. Grow.

Sign on for Growing Fit.