What is CHEERS for child care?

CHEERS stands for Creating Healthy Eating & active EnviRonments Survey.   Development of this tool began in 2009 and assesses the nutrition and physical activity environments in the child care setting.  It is a self-assessment tool used by child care centre leaders to assess their eating and activity environments with a view to creating the best environment to raise healthy kids. There are four areas that the tool assesses: foods served; healthy eating environment; healthy eating program planning; and physically active environment.

What do I get out of completing the CHEERS self-assessment tool?

The self-assessment tool is a fast and easy way to screen the eating and activity environment in your child care centre.  When you have completed the CHEERS tool you will be provided with a report based on your responses that gives you one area where your centre is doing well (What is Going Well) and one opportunity for change (What to Work On) for each of the four areas: foods served; healthy eating environment; healthy eating program planning; and physically active environment.  This report provides evidence-based best practice recommendations, information on the relationship between the recommendation and child health, resources for more information, and the connection to the Alberta Childcare Accreditation Standards.

Why is CHEERS self-assessment important?

Eating habits developed in early childhood profoundly influence dietary preferences and behaviours that span a lifetime.  Parental influences in this critical period are significant, however, the growing number of children in child care settings point to other key care providers playing powerful roles in eating habits, physical activity habits and weight of young Canadians.  The CHEERS for child care tool is specifically developed for the Canadian population to provide child care programs with the ability to identify possible gaps in knowledge or practice and to facilitate the ability of these programs to strengthen positive eating and activity environments.

Who can use the CHEERS self-assessment tool?

The CHEERS self-assessment tool is currently being piloted in the Alberta child care community.  It’s wide spread availability to the Alberta child care community is in progress.