Childcare Wellbeing Initiative
The Child Care Workforce Wellbeing Initiative focuses on understanding and supporting the health and wellbeing of the child care workforce. Our work is grounded in the idea that interdisciplinary approaches are best positioned to support this important workforce. This work is done in partnership with the Delaware Institute for Excellence in Early Childhood in the College of Education and Human Development and the Health Coaching Research and Training Center in the College of Health Sciences. The goal of the work is to elevate and support early care and education professionals.
Please contact Laura Lessard (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information or to learn how to partner with the Initiative.
Learn more about our initiative below
Our Team | Partners | Projects | Publications
The Child Care Workforce Wellbeing Initiative is a partnership between Dr. Laura Lessard from the Department of Behavioral Health & Nutrition and Dr. Rena Hallam and her colleagues from the Delaware Institute for Excellence in Early Childhood and Delaware Stars for Early Success.
Laura Lessard, PhD, MPH is Associate Professor in the Department of Behavioral Health and Nutrition. Her work focuses on the implementation and impact of policy interventions in child care settings, including health and wellbeing policy. Along with Dr. Kyong-Ah Kwon from the University of Oklahoma, Dr. Lessard co-leads a national working group focused on early childhood education workforce wellbeing, which is connected to the Nutrition and Obesity Policy Research and Evaluation Network (NOPREN). She is also co-chair of the Child Care Committee of the American Public Health Association’s Maternal and Child Health Section.
Kyma Fulgence-Belardo is a wellness professional and co-facilitator of Shining the Light on You. Kyma is a former child care educator herself and has been practicing and teaching mindfulness for over seven years.
Stephen McLaren, MS, NBC-HWC is a Board certified Health and Wellness Coach with a Master’s degree in Health Promotion. Stephen provides one-on-one Health Coaching and group coaching within our programs and leads our work with New Directions Early Head Start.
Eric Plautz, MS, NBC-HWC, CHES co-facilitates our flagship program, Shining the Light on You. Eric is a graduate of the UD Master’s in Health Promotion and Graduate Certificate Program for Health Coaching programs.
We also proudly partner with Health and Wellness Coaches and staff from the Health Coaching Clinic at UD. Our programs engage Nationally Board Certified Health and Wellness Coaches, M. Chaplin Mazzocchi, MS, RD, NBC-HWC, Nadin Benrey, MA, NBC-HWC, Lorene Clark Lacayo, MA, RYT, NBC-HWC and Alyssa Whittaker, MS, NBC-HWC.
Shining the Light on You
Shining the Light on You is an evidence-based wellbeing program designed specifically for family child care (FCC) professionals and offered in both English and Spanish. The program includes weekly virtual sessions co-facilitated by a Health and Wellness Coach (HWC) and an Early Childhood Education Coach and three individual coaching sessions with the HWC. The sessions are specifically designed to 1) develop individual and group wellbeing goals; 2) provide ongoing monitoring and support, and; 3) connect participants with existing community resources to meet goals. HWC is built upon a foundation of behavior change theories, motivational strategies and effective communication approaches from psychology, medicine, public health and related fields. The Shining the Light program is approved for up to 15 hours of quality assured professional development hours for FCC professionals through the Delaware Institute for Excellence in Early Childhood. The program first began in the Fall of 2020 and is currently in its sixth cohort. Since Fall 2020, Shining the Light has reached more than 50 FCC professionals in the state of Delaware, with hopes of expanding in the near future. Click here for more information about Shining the Light.
Early Head Start Wellbeing Partnership
In collaboration with New Directions Early Head Start (NDEHS), we are offering a tailored wellbeing program for infant and toddler teachers at their center-based programs. This partnership includes on-site, brief counseling and coaching provided by a Health and Wellness Coach (HWC), healthy snacks and food demonstrations, quarterly events for staff and other support activities. All activities are planned and designed in collaboration with NDEHS staff and teachers.
Family Child Care Professional Surveys
The Child Care Workforce Wellbeing Initiative is involved with a number of studies to better document the health and wellbeing of family child care (FCC) professionals. We fielded a statewide survey of FCC professionals in Delaware in September 2021. This project was designed to capture the physical and mental health status of the workforce along with COVID-19 attitudes, beliefs and vaccination behavior (e.g. our recent paper on vaccination status). We are collaborating with several other researchers on another FCC professional survey and are always looking for opportunities to continue to build the evidence on the health and wellbeing of FCC professionals.
Recent Publications & PRESENTATIONS
Dr. Lessard was featured as a guest on the Early Childhood Policy Matters podcast in December 2022. Listen here, or wherever you get your podcasts.
Lessard, L.,Hallam, R., Albrecht, S., Plautz, E., Fulgence-Bellardo, K. (2022). Shining the Light on You: An Evidence-Based Program Designed to Improve the Health and Wellbeing of Family Child Care Professionals. Delaware Journal of Public Health, Doi: 10.32481/djph.2022.08.010
Lessard, L. M., Wilkins, K., Rose-Malm, J., & Mazzocchi, M. C. (2020). The health status of the early care and education workforce in the USA: A scoping review of the evidence and current practice. Public Health Reviews, 41(1), 1-17.
Lessard, L., Hallam, R., Drain, D., & Ruggiero, L. (2022). COVID-19 Vaccination Status and Attitudes of Family Child Care Providers in Delaware, September 2021. Vaccines, 10(3), 477.
Fulgence K, Lessard L, Hallam R. (2022, June). Shining the Light on You. Workshop presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Association for Family Child Care, San Francisco, CA.
Lessard L, Hallam R, Albrecht S. (2022, June). Shining the Light on You: An Innovative Model for Promoting Well-Being for Family Child Care Providers. In Understanding and Improving the Well-Being of the Early Childhood Workforce: Innovative Research and Practice (Poster Symposium) at the National Research Conference on Early Childhood (NRCEC) (virtual).
Lessard L (2022, May). The health and well-being of the early care and education workforce. Oral presentation at the 2022 Child Care Aware of America annual symposium, Washington, DC.