Opioid abuse, child care standards, the legal age for tobacco use and nutrition education are some of the topics garnering interest this year as state leaders work to ensure children don’t lag behind when it comes to their health.
As part of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Healthiest Next Generation initiative, a group of legislators, educators and health advocates presented its latest recommendations to Inslee this week. Inslee launched the initiative in September 2014 in response to concerns by health experts that this generation of American children might face shorter lifespans than their parents.
Since then, Washington has made significant improvements for children as part of the initiative, including revising fitness guidelines in schools, awarding Healthy Kids-Healthy Schools grants, investing in outdoor-learning opportunities and the No Child Left Inside grant program, and launching the Complete Eats program, which helps families on tight budgets afford nutritious groceries.
The Governor’s Council for the Healthiest Next Generation meets annually to share its recommendations, which policy and budget advisers will use as they prepare for the 2018 legislative session.
Recommendations this year include:
- Raising the legal minimum age from 18 to 21 for purchasing tobacco products such as cigarettes and vaping products.
- Encouraging schools and state agencies to integrate evidence-based social and emotional health and trauma-informed education to reduce the effects of adverse childhood experiences.
- Increasing access to nutritious food in schools by expanding effective programs statewide, such as the Farm to School, school gardens, Smarter Lunchrooms and Breakfast after the Bell programs.
- Providing more training and consultation for Early Achievers coaches, who work with child care providers to improve nutrition and physical activity in early learning programs.
Read the rest of the story on the governor’s Medium page.