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Press release from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services:

RALEIGH — The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Public Health (DPH) launched its first North Carolina Breastfeeding-Friendly Child Care Designations last week, awarding the distinction to eight child care facilities. The initiative supports ongoing quality improvement toward becoming 100 percent breastfeeding-friendly.

“Breastfeeding is the best way to feed infants in their first year of life, and this program complements the work being done in North Carolina to support moms and their babies,” said Josephine Cialone, head of DPH’s Nutrition Services Branch. “These facilities are to be commended for their efforts to promote, protect and support breastfeeding for the families they serve.”

Participating child care centers may receive up to a five-starred building block rating. The selected centers and their designations are:

  • Abundant Life Children’s Center, Sanford, five gold-starred building block;
  • Kids’ Academy, Lumberton, two gold-starred building block;
  • University Child Care Center, Chapel Hill, two gold-starred building block;
  • Amy’s Ark Home Day Care, Robbinsville, one gold-starred building block;
  • Eliada Child Development, Asheville, one gold-starred building block;
  • Emily’s Family Day Care, Robbinsville, one gold-starred building block; and
  • Onslow County Child Development Center, Jacksonville, one gold-starred building block.

Child-care facilities earn one gold-starred building block designation for every two steps implemented from The Ten Steps to Breastfeeding-Friendly Child Care. Facilities that implement additional steps may reapply for a higher gold-starred building block level at any time.

The Ten Steps to Breastfeeding-Friendly Child Care are to:

  1. Make a commitment to the importance of breastfeeding, especially exclusive breastfeeding, and share this commitment with fellow staff;
  2. Train all staff in the skills to support and promote optimal infant and young child feeding;
  3. Inform women and families about the importance of breastfeeding;
  4. Provide learning and play opportunities that normalize breastfeeding for children;
  5. Ensure that all families they serve are able to properly store and label milk for child care facility use;
  6. Provide a breastfeeding-friendly environment;
  7. Support breastfeeding employees;
  8. Ensure that each infant has a feeding plan that supports best feeding practices;
  9. Contact and coordinate with local skilled breastfeeding support and actively refer;
  10. Continue updates and learning about the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding.

By participating in the program, child care facilities help babies to be healthier. Breastfeeding reduces their risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, asthma, ear infections and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Breastfeeding mothers also benefit by lowering their risk for breast and ovarian cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis and recover faster from childbirth.

According to Cialone, DPH is committed to making sure breastfeeding support is consistently available for every mother and baby in North Carolina, and that includes child-care centers. Understanding the advantages for mothers and babies, these centers may see better daily attendance rates, healthier children and higher parent satisfaction.

An informational webinar and the online application are available for child care providers and facility administrators at www.nutritionnc.com/breastfeeding/childcare.htm. Applications are accepted and awarded on a quarterly basis. The next deadline for applications is Jan. 15, 2015.

Angie Newsome

Angie Newsome is the executive director and editor of Carolina Public Press. Contact her at (828) 774-5290 or e-mail her at anewsome@carolinapublicpress.org.

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