Engaging parents to promote children's nutrition and health: Providers' barriers and strategies in head start and child care centers

Dipti A. Dev, Courtney Byrd-Williams, Samantha Ramsay, Brent McBride, Deepa Srivastava, Ashleigh Murriel, Chrisa Arcan, Anna M. Adachi-Mejia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Purpose: Using the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics benchmarks as a framework, this study examined childcare providers' (Head Start [HS], Child and Adult Care Food Program [CACFP] funded, and non-CACFP) perspectives regarding communicating with parents about nutrition to promote children's health. Design: Qualitative. Setting: State-licensed center-based childcare programs. Participants: Full-time childcare providers (n = 18) caring for children 2 to 5 years old from varying childcare contexts (HS, CACFP funded, and non-CACFP), race, education, and years of experience. Methods: In-person interviews using semi-structured interview protocol until saturation were achieved. Thematic analysis was conducted. Results: Two overarching themes were barriers and strategies to communicate with parents about children's nutrition. Barriers to communication included - (a) parents are too busy to talk with providers, (b) parents offer unhealthy foods, (c) parents prioritize talking about child food issues over nutrition, (d) providers are unsure of how to communicate about nutrition without offending parents, and (e) providers are concerned if parents are receptive to nutrition education materials. Strategies for communication included - (a) recognize the benefits of communicating with parents about nutrition to support child health, (b) build a partnership with parents through education, (c) leverage policy (federal and state) to communicate positively and avoid conflict, (d) implement center-level practices to reinforce policy, and (e) foster a respectful relationship between providers and parents. Conclusion: Policy and environmental changes were recommended for fostering a respectful relationship and building a bridge between providers and parents to improve communication about children's nutrition and health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-162
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Promotion
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017


  • Child and Adult Care Program
  • Head Start
  • childcare
  • health policy
  • nutrition
  • obesity
  • parent communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Engaging parents to promote children's nutrition and health: Providers' barriers and strategies in head start and child care centers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this