Massachusetts Children at Play (MCAP) is part of a broad-based, statewide initiative to reduce childhood obesity and prevent its complications in childhood and, later, in adulthood. MCAP provides guidance for child care providers to create healthier child care environments across the state.
The MCAP initiative began in 2010, and was co-sponsored by the MA Department of Public Health and MA Department of Early Education and Care. HRiA was hired to evaluate the initiative, which focused on child care providers serving low-income children age five and under. MCAP’s aim was to help child care providers, through assigned mentors, implement healthy eating guidelines and meet the state requirement that children in childcare get at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day. HRiA’s evaluation examined the implementation of the initiative and whether the initiative affected the policy and environmental landscape around child care provision. Another key goal of HRiA’s evaluation was to assess the effectiveness of the partnership and the technical assistance provided among mentors, child care providers, and interagency leadership, as well as evaluate whether the interagency statewide collaborative model was successful in facilitating the initiative’s goals. The evaluation served as a case study to identify successes, challenges, and lessons learned to help program planners of similar initiatives.