West Virginia launches breastfeeding friendly child care designation initiative

Updated: Jun. 8, 2021 at 2:18 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - A new initiative was announced Tuesday with the goal of supporting child care providers in offering critical support for breastfeeding mothers, who often return to work during their baby’s first year of life with limited or no support.

According to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR), initiative is called the Breastfeeding Friendly Child Care designation.

It was created in partnership between the Division of Early Care and Education, the West Virginia Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), KEYS 4 HealthyKids, and the West Virginia Breastfeeding Alliance,

The voluntary program open to all licensed child care centers, registered facilities, and family child care providers.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommend exclusive breastfeeding the first 6 months of life with continued breastfeeding through the first year as complementary foods are added.

“By achieving the Breastfeeding Friendly Child Care designation, the provider is demonstrating support to both the mother’s choice to breastfeed and to the entire family during the transition back to work,” said Heidi Staats, Director of DHHR’s Office of Nutrition Services. “Staff are trained on breastfeeding facts, normalizing breastfeeding, safe handling of breastmilk, paced feeding, and being in tune to the infant’s hunger cues.”

To achieve this designation, the facility must complete the Ten Steps for Breastfeeding Friendly Child Care Centers. The steps, which do not need to be completed consecutively, are:

  • Create a policy supporting breastfeeding.
  • Train staff about breastfeeding.
  • Inform families about the importance of breastfeeding.
  • Provide educational and play opportunities normalizing breastfeeding.
  • Provide proper storage and handling of breastmilk.
  • Provide a breastfeeding friendly environment.
  • Support breastfeeding employees.
  • Ensure that each infant has a feeding plan.
  • Contact/coordinate with local breastfeeding support.
  • Continue learning about protection, promotion, and support of breastfeeding.

Providers participating in the Child and Adult Care Food Program will receive meal reimbursement when mothers breastfeed at the center or provide pumped breastmilk for feeding their infants.

Child care providers can learn more and apply online for the Breastfeeding Friendly Child Care designation here.

Keep checking the WSAZ app for the latest information.

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