The Delaware Institute for Excellence in Early Childhood is a Delaware Health Hero

DIEEC Wins Lt. Governor’s Challenge

In recognition of their commitment to the well-being of the Delaware early childhood community, the Delaware Institute for Excellence in Early Childhood (DIEEC) was designated as a Delaware Health Hero through the 2023 Lt. Governor’s Challenge!

With a mission to improve the quality of life of all Delawareans, the Lt. Governor’s Challenge honors the individuals, organizations, and institutions that inspire others by making healthy choices the easiest choices for their communities. The 2023 Lt. Governor’s Challenge was a call for individuals or groups who go above and beyond in their efforts to create a healthier state, who strive for results through policy, system, and/or environmental changes to address public health issues.

Rena Hallam, DIEEC director and professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences, in partnership with Laura Lessard, associate professor in the Department of Health Behavior & Nutrition Sciences, designed an innovative wellbeing program tailored specifically for family child care educators. Shining the Light on You is a health and wellness program jointly facilitated by a DIEEC quality improvement specialist and a board certified health & wellness coach. Through weekly group sessions, coupled with group and individual health coaching, Shining the Light on You aims to foster family child care educators’ mental health and physical wellness as well as provide vital social support to reduce stress and lower the risk of chronic disease.

To date, 56 family child care educators have participated in the program as part of 6 cohorts, with the 7th cohort currently underway. Recognizing the diverse needs of family child care educators, the program is offered in both English and Spanish. As a result of the program, participants consistently report reduced personal and work-related stress, increased physical activity, and the adoption of healthier eating habits. As one educator shared, “I would recommend [the program] to every last one of our child care providers… because it really, it’s just, you’re just so different when you come outta there. You’re a different person.” These positive outcomes not only impact the individual educators but also have a ripple effect on the children and families they care for, strengthening the foundation for a healthier Delaware!

The Delaware Institute for Excellence in Early Childhood is dedicated to improving childhood experiences for young children and their families. The DIEEC is housed within the University of Delaware’s College of Education and Human Development. This project was funded by the Delaware Department of Education.