The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR), Division of Early Care and Education (ECE) is pleased to offer the Breastfeeding Friendly Child Care Designation initiative. ECE in partnership with KEYS 4 HealthyKids, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and the WV Breastfeeding Alliance recognizes the many benefits of breastfeeding and the important role it serves in obesity prevention.
As most employed mothers return to work during their baby’s first year of life with limited or no support from employers with the breastfeeding process, child care providers can play a critical role in providing breastfeeding support. Through this initiative, child care providers will have the opportunity to increase their knowledge and understanding of breastfeeding in order to better support mothers and families in their choice of infant feeding plans.
Benefits of breastfeeding for both the mother and nursing baby are immediate and long lasting. The incredible bonding and sense of attachment that are formed through breastfeeding lay the foundation for future growth and emotional well-being for the child.
By achieving the Breastfeeding Friendly Child Care Designation and supporting the mother’s choice to breastfeed, prospective families will find the transition from home to work easier. It shows a commitment by the child care provider to the care and well-being of the child. Staff who are well informed on breastfeeding, the safe handling of breastmilk, and being in-tune to infant hunger cues will allow families to feel confident leaving their little one in care.
This voluntary program is open to all licensed child care centers, registered facilities and family child care providers who choose to participate. Achieving this designation requires completion of ten steps. There is help for each step along the way: Child Care Nurse Health Consultants, Child Care Health Educators and Infant/Toddler Specialists are available to lend their expertise and support. Training, educational materials and resources to create a breastfeeding space will be available. These steps do not have to be completed in order. Some steps you may already have in place; others will take some time and effort. Remember, the breastfeeding area does not have to be a dedicated space used solely for this purpose. It may be a separate room or simply a nook in the infant room created with a privacy screen. Always check with your licensing or regulatory specialist for approval before making changes to your space.
Upon completion of the Ten Steps, each site will be awarded a bonus stipend, a certificate of designation and recognition during the Great Beginnings Infant/Toddler Conference or Celebrating Connections in addition to resources and materials for start-up. All centers, facilities and family child care providers are encouraged to reach out to their local Infant/Toddler Specialist for more information.
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