First Years in the First State: Improving Nutrition and Physical Activity Quality in Delaware Child Care

Delaware Department of Education & Nemours Health and Prevention Services


The First Years in the First State is a PSE change intervention designed to improve the quality of nutrition, physical activity and screen-viewing activities in child care centers in Delaware by providing training on the new regulations licensed childcare centers, which were changed to better align with best practice. This program provided training and toolkits, evaluates providers’ knowledge of the rules, and satisfaction with the training content and format.

Target Behavior: Breastfeeding, Healthy Eating, Physical Activity

Intervention Type: PSE Change

Intervention Reach and Adoption

First Years in the First State was provided for all Delaware early childcare providers participating in the CACFP, and to any other providers who indicated interest. In 2011 when the training was conducted, attendance at one full-day training was required for all centers and family child care homes participating in Child & Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) in the state (130 centers and 740 family child care homes). There were 540 licensed child care centers and 1062 family child care homes state-wide.

Setting: Child care

Target Audience: Preschool (<5 years old)

Race/Ethnicity: All

Intervention Components

The toolkit includes:

  • Delaware licensing rules for nutrition, physical activity and screen time in child care;
  • Self-assessments for child care homes and centers;
  • 16 weeks of approved menu cycles and recipes;
  • Shopping lists and budget-saving shopping tips;
  • Ideas for engaging children, staff, parents and the community;
  • Age-appropriate physical activities and ways to include physical activity in lesson plans;
  • Tips and tools for reading nutrition labels, motivating picky eaters, storing food safely and modeling healthy habits; and
  • Lists of books, websites and local resources.

Intervention Materials

A full day training and toolkit series with implementation resources was provided for all childcare centers and family day care homes participating in CACFP, and any others attending the training.

Intervention Costs

Materials are available at no cost.

Evidence Summary

This model was an acceptable, well-received approach for improving nutrition, physical activity and screen-viewing practices in child care settings. A one-day training helped improve providers’ knowledge of new regulations.

Van Stan, S., Lessard, L., & Dupont Phillips, K. (2013). The impact of a statewide training to increase child care providers’ knowledge of nutrition and physical activity rules in Delaware. Childhood Obesity, 9(1), 43-50. doi:

Classification: Research-tested

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

Self-administered, written pre- and post-surveys were used to evaluate providers’ knowledge of the new regulations to improve the quality of nutrition, physical activity, and screen-time activities in child care settings, as well as satisfaction with the training.

Additional Information

Website: The First Years in the First State website ( includes a practical, “how-to” guide created to help child care providers follow Delaware CACFP/Delaware child care licensing nutrition and physical activity rules.

Contact Person:

Aimee Beam
Phone: 302-857-3356