Promoting Smoke-free Homes for Head Start Families
As a Head Start teacher, staff member or parent, you can help to create smoke-free, asthma friendly homes for Head Start families. Several free tools and educational resources are available to get you started and continue to make a positive change in children’s lives.
The Partnership Between EPA and The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
EPA and DHHS (Administration for Children and Families, Head Start Bureau) are working together to improve the quality of life for nearly a million Head Start children by conducting nationwide asthma and secondhand smoke outreach.
Read more about the EPA and HHS Memorandum of Understanding of February 2007.
Creating Smoke-free Homes for Head Start Children
Secondhand smoke is harmful to everyone, especially to babies and young children of all communities. Millions of children six years old and younger are exposed to secondhand smoke in their home which can cause several health issues such as Middle ear infections – millions per year, Bronchitis/pneumonia and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) – 2,000 deaths per year. By increase awareness of the health impacts on children from exposure to secondhand smoke and helping families take action to protect children from exposure to secondhand smoke, you can help protect children’s health.
What you can do:
- Educate families on the need to protect children from secondhand smoke
- Encourage Parents, Teachers and Staff to Take the Smoke-free Home Pledge: In-person, hotline, and website – all available in English and Spanish.
- Use the free bilingual “Planning Guide for Pledge Events” (www.epa.gov/smokefree/publications.html) to organize a pledge plan and to report smoke-free home pledges to EPA’s national tally.
- Extend your efforts by creating local and regional outreach programs dedicated to promoting smoke-free homes for children’s health.
- Visit www.epa.gov/smokefree for more information.
Webinar: Care for Their Air: Asthma Pilot Project for Head Start and Child Care Learning Settings.
Hear from representatives of EPA, the Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families, and the George State Department of Health as they share their experiences working with Head Start and Child Care communities in two Georgia counties. Watch this Webinar to learn how you can apply their best practices and resources to create effective partnerships with federal, state and local agencies and integrate asthma education into your local Head Start and Child Care programs. Find out more at asthmacommunitynetwork.org
Reducing Asthma Attacks Among Head Start families
Asthma is a growing problem for Head Start families, as well as the nation as a whole. It is the most common chronic childhood disease and places a disproportionate burden on minority and low income groups, the population that Head Start serves.
Approximately 20 percent of children with asthma are exposed to secondhand smoke in their homes. By taking the actions to reduce exposure to asthma triggers and making their homes and cars smoke-free, Head Start families can help prevent serious health risks such as more frequent and severe asthma attacks among asthmatic children, upper and lower respiratory tract infections, and acute middle ear infections.
What you can do:
- Join the Communities in Action for Asthma-Friendly Environments Network
Community asthma programs are making a real difference for families dealing with asthma. Now, Head Start Centers can join other community-based programs through the Communities in Action for Asthma-Friendly Environments Network online. This Network gives Head Start Centers free access to the latest strategies, technology, and resources for managing asthma, including experts in community asthma care. Register your Head Start Center today and become an active partner in the Network: www.asthmacommunitynetwork.org
- Visit www.epa.gov/asthma for more information.
Head Start Center Leads the way for creating Smoke-free, Asthma Friendly Homes for Head Start Families
In the busy world of working in a Head Start Center with so many competing priorities and projects, it is nice to know all the hard work is worth it. Sherry Pierce of the Black River Area Development Head Start found out that her diligence was appreciated when her Center began smoke-free homes and cars outreach to protect children from secondhand smoke. Sherry and her colleagues are committed to teaching parents about the dangers of secondhand smoke to their children and use the Smoke-free Home Pledge as their main tool. Pierce said, “We provide a lot of educational information to our families on a wide range of topics. Often we’re left to wonder if the information we distribute is effective, but we received positive feedback from parents who used and appreciated the Smoke-free Homes Kits.”
Dozens of Head Start Centers like Pierces’ are embracing the new tools and outreach techniques offered through the partnership of Office of Head Start (OHS) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) called Smoke-free, Asthma friendly Homes for Head Start families. This partnership supports Head Start staff in teaching parents about the health effects of children’s exposure to secondhand smoke including asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, and ear infections. Since the partnership began in 2004, Head Start staff across the country have collected thousands of pledges from parents who commit to keeping their homes and cars smoke-free for their children.
Head Start families are often burdened by the impacts of asthma. OHS and EPA are working together to support Head Start Centers to help families take control of asthma and the triggers that make symptoms worse. At a recent National Head Start Hispanic Institute workshop, one teacher remarked that, “all the information I received here today will be much appreciated by our parents. I will share everything I learned.” This sentiment was echoed by another teacher who enthusiastically committed to share EPA’s Spanish asthma video, Controlando los Factores del Asma, during home visits, “especially with those families who live with this problem every day.” Share the smoke-free home message with your Head Start community today!
- To find out more about the importance of smoke-free homes and cars for children and related EPA materials, visit www.epa.gov/smokefree.
- To access EPA’s asthma materials, visit www.epa.gov/asthma