In celebration of National Breastfeeding Month, NCDHHS’ Division of Public Health (DPH) recently launched its North Carolina Breastfeeding-Friendly Child Care Designation application period.
The designation recognizes licensed child care programs that implement practices that promote, protect, and support breastfeeding. The initiative supports ongoing quality improvement toward facilities becoming 100 percent breastfeeding-friendly.
“The re-launch of the NC Breastfeeding-Friendly Child Care Designation Program helps child care programs create a positive environment that endorses breastfeeding as the normative standard for North Carolina’s children,” said Mary Anne Burghardt, Program Director of the DPH’s Nutrition Services Branch. “The program helps breastfeeding initiation and duration rates, which directly correlates to healthier babies and less absences from work for parents.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that mothers exclusively breastfeed for the first six months and continue to breastfeed part of the time for at least 12 months. While many families are unable to achieve these recommendations, it is even less likely to happen when children are routinely cared for by someone other than their parents. When child care programs take simple steps to ensure their program provides a breastfeeding-friendly environment, parents receive the encouragement and support to achieve their breastfeeding goals.
Child care programs are awarded the NC Breastfeeding-Friendly Child Care Designation for achieving five standards (written policy, community connections, professional development, environment, and curriculum) of breastfeeding-friendly child care, which are based on the 10 Steps to Breastfeeding-Friendly Child Care from the Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute.
Participating in the NC Breastfeeding-Friendly Child Care Designation Program is a smart business decision because it leads to less absences due children having less infections and illnesses. Breastfeeding support also helps to maintain student enrollment because parents are more likely to return to work and remain in the workforce. Additionally, child care programs participating in the Child and Adult Care Food Program will receive meal reimbursement when mothers breastfeed at the center or family care home, or provide pumped breastmilk for feeding.
Child care programs awarded the NC Breastfeeding Friendly Child Care Designation will be promoted on the NCDHHS website and their designation status will be listed as a special feature on their NC Division of Child Development and Early Education facility profile.
Applications are accepted biannually. The first application cycle begins on Aug. 2 and runs through Sept. 30.To apply for this free designation and find resources, go here.