Health and Wellness Policy
Smart Steps has created this policy with the support of the State of Maryland’s Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) and the Start Early, Start Well Team Nutrition Child Care Grant. This policy is in effect at all sites, and is used for the sole purpose of improving the health and wellness of the children, families and staff of Smart Steps Children’s Centers.
We believe that the full implementation of our company’s mission “to build relationships between families, educators and communities in order to foster an environment that breeds academic achievement, cultural enrichment and self-esteem development in children” will only be fulfilled if the children served are given opportunities to learn and apply personal health & wellness goals. We believe that all children enrolled in care are entitled to daily access to physical activity, healthy meal service and nutrition education in an environment where health and wellness practices are taught, modeled and intentionally incorporated. We encourage the support of the families, educators and communities that we partner with to ensure that our children are consistently impacted by quality programs, events and resources all aimed at improved health outcomes.
Smart Steps meets standards set by CACFP for appropriate meal patterns and components.
-Smart Steps’ food service menus include age appropriate foods that meet USDA standards for nutritional value and portion sizes.
-Smart Steps offers milk and water at every meal, eliminating sugary drinks and sodas from its sites.
-Menus served include fruits and vegetables daily, and fresh options at least twice weekly.
-Meals are served “family-style” allowing children and staff to discuss menu items and other health choices in a warm and clean environment.
-New menu items are introduced at least monthly.
-Healthy food preparation techniques are used at all times, and meal service is done in a pleasant environment.
-Food is never be used as a punishment or reward.
Smart Steps intentionally incorporates physical activity programming in an effort to meet standards set by Academy of Pediatrics and Preventing Obesity in Early Care and Education Programs
-Preschool program schedules will include daily outdoor play times for gross motor skills development and general exercise.
-Preschool programs will include at least 1 specialized physical activity session (i.e.: dance aerobics) each week.
-School age programs will include at least 3 days of physical activity including but not limited to outdoor play and physical activity sessions (i.e. dance aerobics, dance & drumming, martial arts).
-Sedentary periods will be limited to 30 minute intervals, encouraging movement and intentional physical transitioning.
Smart Steps’ incorporation of nutrition education meet standards set by the American Dietetic Association.
-Smart Steps’ teachers will incorporate health and wellness education throughout its programs.
-Meal service time will include discussion regarding healthy choices.
-Teachers will model healthy behaviors by participating in physical activities, making healthy food choices during meal service, and exhibiting positive images.
-Parents will be given information on health and wellness initiatives and resources in the community.
-Administrators will continue partnerships with health related organizations (i.e.: Park Heights Community Health Alliance) in order to ensure continued access to up to date health information related to communities served.
-Health & Wellness information will be distributed to families during registration, throughout enrollment and on center-related social media network and sites.