Early years have a vital role in providing the foundations on which long-term adult health outcomes are built. Investing in young children is regarded as one of the most cost effective ways to promote healthy development. Children’s educational and care settings are considered important points for such investments (Birch & Ventura, 2009; Bluford et al 2007; Silva-Sanigorski et al. 2012).
EACH facilitates an Early Years Network that aims to support kindergartens, child care centres and playgroups to become health promoting centres/services.
The network aims to support early childhood and care services to create healthier environments and recognise the achievements in promoting health and wellbeing of children.
A health promoting service looks at healthier physical and social environment; developing healthy polices; and providing children, staff and families with health and wellbeing learning opportunities.
EACH Health Promotion also supports the delivery of the Smiles 4 Miles Award Program across Maroondah and the Yarra Ranges. Smiles 4 Miles in an initiative of Dental Health Services Victoria, working in partnership with EACH to improve the oral health of the youngest children in our community and their families.
There are currently 13 Kindergarten and Long Day Care centres across Maroondah and Yarra Ranges that are delivering the program, reaching a total of 721 children between 0-5 years of age.
Tooth decay is Victoria’s most prevalent health problem, with more than half of all children and almost all adults affected. Despite a reduction in rates of tooth decay in children over the last 30 years, it remains five times more prevalent than asthma and continues to be a health problem particularly for disadvantaged communities (National Health Survey 2007).