BOISE -- The city of Boise is close to changing their child care ordinance, which affects about 300 providers and two-thirds of the children in the city. It's all in an effort to fight childhood obesity, but not everyone thinks it will work.
Boise Council member TJ Thomsen wants to make Boise a lot healthier, and figures the best place to start is with kids. This is a passion of mine.
That's why he's proposing the Boise Healthy Child Care Initiatives. There is nothing in place now. There is nothing across the entire state of Idaho. Boise would be the first city to implement healthy initiatives into child care.
One of the public meetings to get input on the initiatives was held this weekend. Those initiatives would require any child care provider licensed in Boise to go through training that would set standards for daily nutrition, physical activity, and screen time for kids. They would also make sure the providers allot space for infant nursing.
Thomsen says, This would certainly move the needle, and we believe, have a major impact on obesity rates, because two-thirds of our kids are in child care. Two-thirds. That's a lot of kids.
Cathy Stephenson and Virginia Despain were just a couple of the child care providers at the meeting. They say, they already adhere to the standards, but think making them city-wide standards would be a good idea.
I think it's great, said Despain. For every child care provider, maybe it will make us more aware of what we're feeding the children, more aware of how much time we're giving them outside active play and inside active play, and to make sure we're limiting that screen time.
I think some people will buck the system. According to Stephenson, not all of their colleagues are on board. I wouldn't say that most people would agree. I think it might be 50-50.
Thomsen admits, the changes would require more work for the providers. The free training is a requirement for licensing. But, if a provider doesn't comply, they wouldn't be cited. That fact would just show up on the city s online child care provider list for parents to see.
Thomsen also hopes any resistance is just a symptom of people not fully understanding the initiatives. Several years ago, it was my goal to make this the healthiest city in America. I think we can get there, and this is one of those first steps.
If you have questions, there is another meeting Monday night at the library on Cole Road. Thomsen says he'll take that input back to the council, and hopefully implement the changes in August.