Crystal Howard Scott has operated Complete Care Development Center in her Westwood home for 11 years. Her program was the first type B home child care provider in Hamilton County to achieve Ohio’s 5-Star Step Up To Quality rating.
How Crystal Howard-Scott and Complete Care Development Center THRIVE!:
WeTHRIVE! Child Care Wellness Resolution: Crystal signed the WeTHRIVE! Child Care Resolution in 2016. This shows her commitment to provide a healthful environment for the children in her care by following guidelines on physical activity, screen time, safe sleep practices, nutrition, and tobacco.
Ohio Healthy Programs Award: Complete Care Development Center was awarded the Ohio Healthy Programs (OHP) designation in February 2018. OHP is a statewide yearly recognition program for child care providers that commit to providing a healthier environment for the children they serve through written policies, menu enhancements, Step Up To Quality trainings, and family engagement. Crystal also completed the 15-hour Healthy Children, Healthy Weights curriculum.
Striving for Excellence: Crystal is involved with 4C for Children, Santa Maria Community Services’ Strengthening Families Initiative, and the SEEK (Safe Environment for Every Kid) program at Cincinnati Children’s. These partnerships reflect her commitment to excellence as an in-home child care provider. “Lots of people in the community and society look at in-home providers as ‘you are just a baby sitter, you just let the TV watch the kids,’” Crystal said. “I’m motivated to strive more and say, ‘look, I’m an in-home program and look what I do, look at my set up.’”
Menu Changes: Crystal re-vamped her menus to include more whole grains, a larger variety of fruits and vegetables, and lower sugar cereals. She also cut out sugary snacks. The changes were tough, especially at first. “I worked hard to get the kids to even eat the food,” she said. “This was a challenge, but I had Andrea’s [Andrea Liptak, RD, LD of Hamilton County Public Health] support to say, ‘ok, it’s going to be a little rough at the beginning, but just keep on promoting it’ — and that did work.”
Trying New Foods: Crystal uses the “two bite club” to encourage the kids to try new foods. “I also eat with the children myself, so when they see me eating new foods, they start to think, ‘mmm…this is tasty.’”
Getting Creative with Veggies: Crystal prepares vegetables in different ways to see how the kids prefer them. For example, broccoli and cauliflower became more popular when served raw. She also does activities with new veggies. “I let them play with it first, that helped a lot,” she said.
Getting Outside: “I really enforce the idea that there’s no bad weather, there’s only bad clothing,” Crystal said. “So we are going outside more, getting more active play, and the kids really enjoy it.”
Engaging Parents: Crystal sends parents monthly healthy activities and recipes for them to try at home. She has new families fill out a blank copy of the menu to get an idea of what the children eat at home and uses this information when creating her own menus. “Parents give me feedback on what they eat at home, and I think of ways I can make those meals a little more healthier,” she said.
In Her Own Words
On implementing WeTHRIVE! and OHP guidelines:
“In the beginning, before you see the research behind it, you may feel it won’t make a difference. Now being a part of it, I can say that the kids are more active, they look forward to going outside and doing different activities outside. And now, certain vegetables that they didn’t know before, they know. Some say they like it and some say they don’t, but they will taste it.”
On making food changes when food security is an issues:
“I live in a high poverty environment. Some of the kids only eat one or two times a day, or they only eat at school or at child care… And you’re saying ‘we have to limit these foods.’ This was a hard challenge for me, because I just wanted to make sure that the kids ate, and for a while they weren’t eating at all. But now, they know that this is what we have, and they eat it.”