Empower Program

Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS)


The Empower Program is a PSE Change intervention developed by the Arizona Department of Health Services to support the efforts of licensed early care and education (ECE) facilities and certified family child care (FCC) homes to empower young children to grow up healthy. Arizona’s Empower Program for ECE facilities began in 2010 as a two-pronged incentive approach that reduced licensing fees and promoted healthy habits in early care and education settings where young children were highly impressionable. Although participation in Empower is voluntary for ADHS-licensed child care centers and small group homes, more than 99% of licensed programs participate. Empower is currently voluntary for ADHS licensed facilities and required for Arizona Department of Economic Security child care contracts as well as Arizona’s First Things First Quality First program.

Participating facilities pledge to adopt 10 standards that encourage healthy eating, active play, and other health habits.  Requirements include having a written policy and implementing each of the 10 standards.

Target Behavior: Breastfeeding, Healthy Eating, Physical Activity

Intervention Type: PSE Change

Intervention Reach and Adoption

The Empower Program targets licensed/certified child-care facilities in Arizona.

Setting: Child care

Target Audience: Preschool (<5 years old), Elementary school

Race/Ethnicity: All

Intervention Components

Facilities participating in the Empower Program pledge to adopt 10 standards that support healthy eating, encourage active play, reduce screen time, prevent exposure to second- and third-hand smoke, practice sun safety and promote good oral health habits in exchange for reduced licensing fees. Participating in Empower includes resources and technical assistance to improve implementation of healthy habits and written policies. Resources and online courses are available on the Empower website and in the Arizona Early Childhood Workforce Registry. Providers that complete courses are able to count these hours to their annual training or professional development requirements. Facilities must implement and have a written policy for each of the 10 standards:

  • Standard 1: Physical Activity and Screen Time
  • Standard 2: Sun Safety
  • Standard 3: Breastfeeding
  • Standard 4: Food Programs and Food Resources
  • Standard 5: Fruit Juice
  • Standard 6: Family Style Meals
  • Standard 7: Oral Health
  • Standard 8: Staff Training
  • Standard 9: Arizona Smokers’ Helpline (ASHLine)
  • Standard 10: Social Emotional Development

Intervention Materials

  • Empower Guidebook (https://www.azdhs.gov/documents/prevention/nutrition-physical-activity/empower/resources-policies/empower-guidebook.pdf) 
  • *NEW* Empower Out of School Time (OOST) Empower Guidebook (https://azdhs.gov/documents/prevention/nutrition-physical-activity/empower/schools/empower-out-of-school-time-guidebook.pdf)
    • 10 Standards Overview
    • Rationale
    • Sample Policies
  • Empower Website
    • Standards & Resources
      • Why is the Standard important? 
      • How do I implement the Standard in my facility? 
      • Activity Resources
      • Family Engagement
      • Training
      • Best Practice Recommendations & Resources 
      • More Helpful Websites
    • Training and Professional Development
      • Learning Management (online source)
    • News and Publications
    • Forms & Sample Policies
    • Email Sign-Up 

Intervention Costs

The program is free for child care community to access the website and technical assistance. The annual cost is approximately $150,000 per year for the Bureau of Nutrition and Physical Activity (BNPA). Empower technical assistance and materials are provided by 1.0 FTE, Early Care and Education Manager. The Bureau of Child Care Licensing (BCCL) oversee the registration for Empower enrollment for approximately 2,400 child care centers and small group homes. 

Evidence Summary

There are some process results/ongoing program evidence presented in the periodic newsletters (https://azdhs.gov/prevention/nutrition-physical-activity/empower/index.php#news-publications). The program reaches more than 200,000 children in ~2100 ADHS licensed childcare centers, ~300 ADHS licensed group homes, and ~600 family child care homes, and has received multiple best practice awards. However, no rigorous evaluation results or publications are available. 

These two publications are available on our website:  

Classification: Emerging

Evaluation Indicators

Based on the SNAP-Ed Evaluation Framework, the following outcome indicators can be used to evaluate intervention progress and success.

Readiness and Capacity – Short Term (ST) Changes – Medium Term (MT) Effectiveness and Maintenance – Long Term (LT) Population Results (R)
Environmental Settings ST5, ST6, ST7 MT5, MT6 LT5, LT6, LT7, LT8, LT9, LT10, LT11
Sectors of Influence

Evaluation Materials

Each Empower facility conducts a Self-Assessment Checklist  (https://www.azdhs.gov/documents/prevention/nutrition-physical-activity/empower/forms-policies/empower-sa-checklist.pdf) annually.  These results are entered into a data collection repository for later analysis.

Additional Information

Website: The Empower Program website (https://azdhs.gov/prevention/nutrition-physical-activity/empower/index.php) includes the Empower Program guidebook and other support resources and materials.

Contact Person(s):

Noelle Veilleux Markham, RDN
Population Health Dietitian
Email: noelle.veilleux@azdhs.gov
Phone: 602-364-3316

Bureau of Nutrition and Physical Activity
150 N. 18th Ave. Suite 310
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Phone: 602-542-1886


Updated as of August 8, 2023