Policy Regulations for Day Care in NYC

New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

Overview

Policy Regulations for Day Care in New York City is a PSE change intervention designed to improve the physical activity and nutrition practices in NYC group day care facilities. This amendment included specific guidelines for outdoor play and physical activity, limits on television viewing, and requirements for food and food areas. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) reviewed the NYC health code in 2006 and 2015; the review identified gaps in nutrition and physical activity in day care settings.  As a result of these findings, the DOHMH requested that the Board of Health amend or add provisions relating to the operation of day care services regulated by Article 47 of the Health Code.  These provisions included requirements to:

  • establish minimum requirements on  indoor and outdoor play (amendment),
  • provide structured and guided physical activity (addition),
  • establish limits on time spent on sedentary activities and screen time (addition), and
  • institute stricter nutritional standards (amendment).

Target Behavior: Healthy Eating, Physical Activity

Intervention Type: PSE Change

Intervention Reach and Adoption

New York City amended its Child Care Services regulations, part of the City’s Health Code, to improve the physical activity and nutrition practices in NYC group day care facilities. As a public policy, it affects children from birth to age five attending group day care centers. The NYC day care policy covers approximately 140,000 child care seats in around 2300 group day care center sites.

Setting: Child care

Target Audience: Preschool (<5 years old)

Race/Ethnicity: All

Intervention Components

The Policy Components include the following:

Physical Activity and Limits on Television Viewing requirements:

  • Children 12 months and older attending full day program must be scheduled to participate in 60 minutes of physical activity per day
  • Children 3 years and older must be scheduled to participate in at least 30 minutes of structured and guided physical activity to meet the 60 minutes of total physical activity
  • Children are not allowed to remain sedentary or sit passively for more than 30 minutes continuously, except during scheduled rest or naptime
  • Television, video, and visual recordings are not permitted for children under 2 years of age
  • Television, video, and visual recordings are limited to 30 minutes per week of educational programming or programs that actively engage child movement for children 2 years or older

Food and Food Areas requirements:

  • Prohibit providing beverages with added sweeteners to children
  • Require water to be accessible and available for children to drink throughout the day
  • Limit provision of 100% juice to children ages two and over; limit quantity of 100% juice to no more than 4 ounces per day
  • Limit fat content of milk to children age 2 and older to 1% or lower
  • Require distribution of nutrition guidelines to parents for food brought into day care facilities from other sources

Enforcement of the regulations set forth by Article 47 is conducted through inspections completed at least annually by the Early Childhood Education Consultants (ECECs) and sanitarians, as part of the NYC Bureau of Child Care licensing regulations.  During these inspections, ECECs look for compliance with the programmatic regulations (e.g., age-appropriate activities/games), while sanitarians focus on compliance with safety standards (e.g., playground safety, food safety), Both ECECs and sanitarians have the authority to enforce all policies. In order to determine compliance with the physical activity requirements, ECECs examine the day care center’s daily schedules to see if adequate time is allotted for movement. To assess compliance with nutrition regulations, sanitarians review menus and examine kitchens; however, enforcement of these regulations is challenging due to the lack of frequency with which inspections occur and the brief amount of time allotted for them.  For example, sanitarians must assess compliance with all of Article 47 but cannot observe a full day in each classroom to observe whether center staff are providing not more than the daily limit of four ounces of juice per child.

Intervention Materials

The Regulations on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Group Child Care Services, promulgated as part of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Policy Regulations for Daycare in New York City were carefully developed and implemented in New York City by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. In order for you to obtain similar outcomes as those in New York City group child care facilities, it is important that you follow the implementation guidelines outlined in the template. Of course, no outcomes can be guaranteed.

The materials provided and those accessed through site links here are all provided as a courtesy for easy access. The available materials include rules promulgated by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The versions available through this site are, to the best of our knowledge, complete and accurate at the time of posting. For official copies of such laws, rules or regulations, please consult the official publication site for each. The Daycare Nutrition Guidelines are suggestions and are not intended to be implemented without exceptions. Dietary restrictions and medical needs of individual children must be taken into consideration in the application of such suggestions.

Evidence Summary

There is evidence that increasing access to and number of places for physical activity and decreasing screen time and other sedentary behaviors are effective strategies to increase physical activity and improving other physical activity-related outcomes. Reviews of the evidence suggest that combining this strategy with informational strategies, such as promotion or education, and/or social support strategies may increase its effectiveness.  The NYC day care policy includes the following provisions aimed at increasing access to places for physical activity and decreasing screen time:

  • Sufficient play equipment shall be made available in the indoor and outdoor play areas that are appropriate to the stage of development of the children.
  • Play equipment shall enable all children to engage in structured and guided physical activities.
  • Television, video, and visual recordings are limited to 30 minutes per week of educational programming for children 2 years or older
  • Television, video, and visual recordings are not permitted for children under 2 years of age

There is evidence that changing access and availability to favor healthy foods and beverages is effective in increasing healthy eating in a variety of settings and with diverse populations. Increasing the availability of healthy foods encompasses those intervention methods aimed at increasing the number and/or types of healthy food items wherever food is available. Such strategies include, among others, developing and implementing policies on the availability of healthy food items.   The NYC day care policy includes the following policy provisions aimed at increasing the availability of healthy foods in group day care settings:

  • Beverages with added sweeteners shall not be provided to children.
  • No more than 4 ounces of 100% juice shall be provided to children over two years of age per day.
  • Children ages two and older shall be served 1% or less milk fat.
  • Water shall be made available and easily accessible to children throughout the day.

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)
Individual
Environmental Settings ST5, ST7 MT5, MT6 LT5, LT6, LT7
Sectors of Influence

Evaluation Materials

Currently, no evaluation tools or materials are available.

Additional Information

Website: See the Center TRT website for more information; the NYC Bureau of Child Care website is http://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/services/child-care.page.

Contact Person(s):
Megan Lent, MPH
Bureau of Chronic Disease Prevention and Tobacco Control
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Phone:  (347) 396-4372
Email: mlent@health.nyc.gov

Kelvin Chan
Bureau of Child Care
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Phone: (646) 632-6333
Email: kchan1@health.nyc.gov