Caring for Our Children: National Health and Safety Performance Standards
xix Guiding Principles
GUIDING PRINCIPLES
The following are the guiding principles used in writing these
standards:
1. The health and safety of all children in early care and
education settings is essential. The child care setting offers
many opportunities for incorporating health and safety
education and life skills into everyday activities. Health
education for children is an investment in a lifetime of good
health practices and contributes to a healthier childhood
and adult life. Modeling of good health habits, such as
healthy eating and physical activity, by all staff in indoor and
outdoor learning/play environments, is the most effective
method of health education for young children.
2. Child care for infants, young children, and school-age
children is anchored in a respect for the developmental
needs, characteristics, and cultures of the children and their
families; it recognizes the unique qualities of each individual
and the importance of early brain development in young
children and in particular children birth to three years of age.
3. To the extent possible, indoor and outdoor learning/play
activities should be geared to the needs of all children.
4. The relationship between parent/guardian/family and child
is of utmost importance for the child’s current and future de-
velopment and should be supported by caregivers/teachers.
Those who care for children on a daily basis have abundant,
rich observational information to share, as well as offer in-
struction and best practices to parents/guardians. Parents/
guardians should share with caregivers/teachers the unique
behavioral, medical and developmental aspects of their
children. Ideally, parents/guardians can benefit from time
spent in the child’s caregiving environment and time for the
child, parent/guardian and caregiver/teacher to be together
should be encouraged. Daily communication, combined
with at least yearly conferences between families and the
principal caregiver/teacher, should occur. Communication
with families should take place through a variety of means
and ensure all families, regardless of language, literacy level,
or special needs, receive all of the communication.
5. The nurturing of a child’s development is based on
knowledge of the child’s general health, growth and de-
velopment, learning style, and unique characteristics. This
nurturing enhances the enjoyment of both child and parent/
guardian as maturation and adaptation take place. As
shown by studies of early brain development, trustworthy
relationships with a small number of adults and an environ-
ment conducive to bonding and learning are essential to the
healthy development of children. Staff selection, training,
and support should be directed to the following goals:
a) Promoting continuity of affective relationships;
b) Encouraging staff capacity for identification with and
empathy for the child;
c) Emphasizing an attitude of involvement as an adult in
the children’s play without dominating the activity;
d) Being sensitive to cultural differences; and
e) Being sensitive to stressors in the home environment.
6. Children with special health care needs encompass those
who have or are at increased risk for a chronic physical,
developmental, behavioral, or emotional condition and who
also require health and related services of a type or amount
beyond that generally required by children. This includes
children who have intermittent and continuous needs in all
aspects of health. No child with special health care needs
should be denied access to child care because of his/her
disability(ies), unless one of the four reasons for denying
care exists: level of care required; physical limitations of the
site; limited resources in the community, or unavailability of
specialized, trained staff. Whenever possible, children with
special health care needs should be cared for and provided
services in settings including children without special health
care needs.
7. Developmental programs and care should be based on
a child’s functional status, and the child’s needs should be
described in behavioral or functional terms. Children with
special needs should have a comprehensive interdisciplinary
or multidisciplinary evaluation if determined necessary.
8. Written policies and procedures should identify facility
requirements and persons and/or entities responsible for
implementing such requirements including clear guidance
as to when the policy does or does not apply.
9. Whenever possible, written information about facility
policies and procedures should be provided in the native
language of parents/guardians, in a form appropriate for
parents/guardians who are visually impaired, and also in an
appropriate literacy/readability level for parents/guardians
who may have difficulty with reading. However, processes
should never become more important than the care and
education of children.
10. Confidentiality of records and shared verbal informa-
tion must be maintained to protect the child, family, and
staff. The information obtained at early care and education
programs should be used to plan for a child’s safe and ap-
propriate participation. Parents/guardians must be assured
of the vigilance of the staff in protecting such information.
When sharing information, such as referrals to services that
would benefit the child, attainment of parental consent to
share information must be obtained in writing. It is also im-
portant to document key communication (verbal and written)
between staff and parents/guardians.
11. The facility’s nutrition activities complement and supple-
ment those of home and community. Food provided in a
child care setting should help to meet the child’s daily nu-
tritional needs while reflecting individual, cultural, religious,
and philosophical differences and providing an opportunity
for learning. Facilities can contribute to overall child devel-
opment goals by helping the child and family understand
the relationship of nutrition to health, the importance of
positive child feeding practices, the factors that influence
food practices, and the variety of ways to meet nutritional
needs. All children should engage in daily physical activity in
a safe environment that promotes developmentally appro-
priate movement skills and a healthy lifestyle.
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