HRiA takes a systematic approach to promoting healthy homes for family child care educators (FCEs) in Eastern Massachusetts – working directly with educators, family child care support agencies, and the MA Department of Early Education and Care. Low socioeconomic status, substandard housing, and exposure to substantial environmental hazards means many children suffer disproportionately from environmental health problems, including asthma and lead exposure. Our work focuses on communities of color and those with high poverty rates. Statewide surveillance showed African-Americans and non-White Hispanics have the highest pediatric asthma prevalence and young Black and Latino children are more likely to be hospitalized for asthma than other races. Because young children are disproportionately affected by asthma (more likely to be hospitalized than any other age group), this initiative is specifically focused on those who provide child care to young children in their home.
Since 2009, HRiA’s Healthy Homes for Family Child Care project has engaged and educated FCEs on the principles of healthy indoor environments, including integrated pest management, green cleaning, and tobacco-free policies. Trainings emphasize actionable steps for improving the home environment, thereby equipping educators to better manage asthma triggers and prevent lead poisoning of young children within their home. Specific related activities include:
- Providing interactive educational workshops for hundreds of family child care educators in Eastern Massachusetts
- Convening a workgroup of early education stakeholders to provide input into training content development and promote improved child care policies around green cleaning and smoke-free properties
- Partnering with MA Department of Public Health’s Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems Project to incorporate asthma medication administration training into healthy homes workshops
- Developing e-learning platform in English and Spanish to create online version of healthy homes training
This project has been supported with funding from state agencies, local foundations, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Healthy Communities and Environmental Justice Small Grants program.