Healthy habits begin with early education

Research indicates that ages 2-5 are a critical time for instilling lifelong healthy behaviors. Preschoolers who are overweight or obese are five times more likely to become overweight or obese as adults. Equally troubling, the prevalence of obesity among U.S. preschoolers has doubled in recent decades, and while obesity rates have recently dropped in 19 states, they remained unchanged in Indiana.

Training child care providers to create healthy environments for their students promotes the development of healthy habits during these critical years.

Taking Steps for Healthy Success

Taking Steps for Healthy Success, a training program funded by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), was launched in Indiana in September 2013 by Nemours, one of the nation’s largest pediatric health systems, and Early Learning Indiana (ELI). More than 100 providers participated in the initial training to implement changes in nutrition and physical activity policies.

Between 2015-2018, Jump IN partnered with Nemours, Early Learning Indiana (ELI), and the Indiana Association for the Education of Young Children (INAEYC) to train 90 of these providers, who care for more than 4,000 preschoolers in central Indiana. Since the program started in 2013, in central Indiana alone 121 providers—caring for nearly 8,000 preschoolers—have been trained. That's more than 20% of the preschoolers who are in child care settings, but only 6% of the preschoolers who live in central Indiana. We have much work left to do to reach everyone who cares for children in this critical age range, and to promote the healthy practices from this highly effective program. 

Nemours and ELI continue to refine program delivery, even adding online training pieces to the most recent cohort. These enhancements help maximize effiiciency in delivery and make the program cost effective, replicable, and sustainable. Additionally, Nemours and ELI continue to roll training out in other communities in Indiana, now reaching as far north as South Bend and Elkhart. 

Better Together (2020-2022)

This work continued through the Better Together project, developed by Nemours Health and the University of North Carolina’s Go NAPSACC project (Nutrition and Physical Activity for Child Care), a $365,000 two-year grant that was completed in July, 2022.? In 2020-2022, cohorts of 65 providers in low-income communities met for intensive training to change policies, systems, and environments to create healthier places for the children in their care. Using validated Go NAPSACC pre- and post- assessments, 65 Better Together ECE providers in Indiana increased best-practice adoption from an average of 48% to 70% – a 22 percentage-point increase – across the domains of breastfeeding and infant feeding, child nutrition, physical activity, and screen time.

To date, Jump IN has helped secure more than $1 million in funding to provide comprehensive training to more than 300 child care centers serving more than 10,000 young children in central Indiana.

Participation in Nemours Training Programs 


Training Session 


# Child Care Centers 


# Children Enrolled 
























































1. Statewide in 2013-14, 2014-15, 2020-21, 2021-22; central Indiana in all other years.

2. Starting in 2016-17, small-enrollment Family Child Care Homes were introduced.


SPARK Learning Collaboratives

Learning cohorts for ECE providers continue to evolve. Beginning in spring 2023, SPARK Learning Lab is offering 12-week Learning Collaboratives for providers throughout Indiana based on the curriculum content from the Better Together project and with the use of the Go NAPSACC tool.  The first Learning Collaborative is focused on Child Nutrition and will run through August 2023.  The second Learning Collaborative will focus on Infant Feeding/Breast Feeding.  Providers who are interested in registering may contact SPARK here.  

Additionally, with funding support from the Indiana Department of Health, Jump IN has partnered with Nemours and SPARK this spring to offer Indiana providers three distinct Learning Collaboratives with Farm-to-ECE curriculum, again utilizing the Go NAPSACC tool. The first is underway right now and focuses on all aspects gardening.  The second and third will focus on agrculture/nutrition education and procurement (harvesting, acquiring, and serving food).  Providers interested in Farm to ECE Learning Collaboratives should contact Marsha Hearn-Linsday here.  

The Jump IN Pledge for Healthy Kids is a commitment to eat and drink healthy, be active, and teach healthy habits to children and families. When you Pledge, we support your efforts. Learn more about the Jump IN Pledge.