Women’s Health Month Highlight: CARE (Caring and Reaching for Health)

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This story is the second in our series celebrating research by and for women in celebration of Women’s History Month. To see the first, go to:Click Here 

By Merve Sherifi, 2016 Communications Intern

CARECaring and Reaching for Health (CARE), led by Principal Investigators Dr. Dianne Ward and Dr. Laura Linnan, is a randomized, controlled research study with the goal of improving the health related behaviors of those working in child care, the majority of whom are women.

CARE is evaluating two new worksite wellness programs designed specifically for child care centers and their employees. It is focused on improving physical, mental, emotional, and/or financial health of child care providers. Child care centers are growing and the individuals who work at these centers have a demanding job, and are often paid a very low wage. Child care center directors and staff sign up to participate as a team and are randomized into one of two programs, Healthy Lifestyles or Healthy Finances.

“Child care centers often do not offer health benefits or health promotion programs at the workplace. CARE gives us an opportunity to reach those who don’t have the same opportunities that are often offered to employees at larger worksites,” said Lori Bateman, Project Director.”

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The primary goal of this study is to evaluate the effects of the Healthy Lifestyles program compared to the Healthy Finances program on a variety of health outcome
s among participating child care providers. The project will evaluate the impact of these programs on physical activity, eating habits, weight, smoking habits, emotional health, sleep quality, as well as changes that might occur in the work environment.

Several child care centers recently completed the 6-month intervention in Cumberland County, and recruiting for the next phase began in January 2016 in Rowan, Forsyth, and Davidson counties. The team is currently enrolling and collecting baseline measures on the new cohort and in the coming months they will be randomized into one of the programs.

CARE received positive feedback from child care centers that participated in the pilot program. Katherine Davis, Director at The Growing Place Child Care Center said, “Programs like CARE are needed to increase teachers’ health awareness while supporting and motivating them to improve their health!”

Another participating Director, Kim Draughn of Lulu’s Child Enrichment Center, spoke about her experience with the pilot program, saying “I feel that CARE is vitally important because it focuses on one of the key components of a high quality center, the teaching staff. Often child care providers are thought of as babysitters and their daily efforts to improve the lives of young children go unrecognized. Programs like CARE heighten public awareness around the need to recognize and appreciate the hard work and love that providers give to our children on a daily basis.”

To learn more about CARE please visit www.caringandreaching.com or email the CARE team at caringandreaching@unc.edu.

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