DATE: January 29, 2014
Broward County Board of County Commissioners
CONTACT: Kimberly Maroe
Public Information Manager
Broward County Commission
BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. - Children attending day care in Broward County may soon be getting a lot more exercise, better food and spend less time in front of a television.
The proposal for stricter day care regulations was brought forward by Broward County Commissioner Martin David Kiar and approved by the majority of Commissioners. Broward County regulates day care centers. The County Attorney has been asked to amend current regulations to ensure at least 40 hours of exercise, low or no fat milk products for children under two years old, and more time spent outside instead of watching television. Current regulations allow two hours of television entertainment.
“I know everybody here likely knows that adult obesity and its related health consequences generally originate from childhood. What you may not know is that child care centers play an important role in keeping children at a healthy weight as they consume as much as 50 to 70 percent of their daily calories in daycare. Because Broward County licenses day care centers, I think we need to strengthen these regulations,” said Commissioner Kiar.
During the discussion, Commissioners voiced a variety of concerns, but the general consensus was that day care centers must be given resources to assist them in implementing any new regulations the Commission may approve.
“How can we help with coordinating? In ensuring that these schools or early learning centers are given all the resources they can and we need to target those areas with high poverty, high unemployment. We know that it makes a difference in a child's life if we're able to help them at an early stage, and we know that within those communities if help is not given, then we end up paying for it later in life as a community,” noted Commission Dale V.C. Holness.
“All three of these new standards or regulations, whether its nutrition or physical activity or the screen time, all of these I think address the issue which is the number one health issue that we have in America, obesity. So all of these standards look to bring about healthy lifestyles for kids at an early age, and that's a great idea,” said Vice Mayor Tim Ryan.
“I'm fine with us using our resources for marketing, but obviously this is about education, and some good examples were brought up here. What I'd to like see is that we empower the people who do an amazing job every day from our staff to empower the early learning centers with the proper resources, to educate them on proper nutrition and exercise,” said Commissioner Chip LaMarca, who asked staff to analyze any potential fiscal impact.
Commissioner Kristin Jacobs voiced concerns about some day care centers that have little or no shade on the outside campus and suggested the County assist day care centers who may find it hard to shelter children from heat, rain or other weather. “It's these little kids that really need to be protected. If the day care center is looking at their bottom line and they don't have the kind of funds to make the changes that we're going to ask for, I would like us to be able to offer resources to help them in that regard. Not through general funds, but already existing resources such as the Tree Trust Fund,” said Commissioner Jacobs.
Dozens of public meetings were held with day care center operators and stakeholders involved in the regulation process. There was broad support for the new proposed guidelines which follow federal standards.
The County Attorney will conduct further research and bring back a formal amended ordinance for the Commission to discuss and consider at a later date.