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Illinois considers new day care nutrition regulations

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013 5:58 p.m. CDT

SPRINGFIELD – State authorities are considering a series of proposals that would remove fatty and sugary snacks along with chocolate milk from day care centers in Illinois, while also banning the youngest children from watching television, officials said.

Other proposals would also mandate children go outside at least twice during the day – weather permitting – and forbid day care providers from rewarding children's good behavior with food, according to a report by the Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises newspapers.

"By reaching out to the day care centers we're changing the way that kids are fed and cared for not just when they are at the center, but also when they are at home," said Dave Clarkin, a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

The series of rule changes were first recommended by the Illinois Early Learning Council and are now being reviewed by a special legislative panel. If they're approved, they could take effect in six to nine months.

Specifically, the changes would ban children under the age of 2 from watching TV while they're at day care. Older children would be limited to a single hour a day, but couldn't watch television while they eat. Snacks that are high in fat and sugar would be forbidden, while children also wouldn't be allowed to have bottles while they're in a crib.

The rules would only apply to day care centers, meaning that in-home day care providers are excluded. The changes could affect about 300,000 children. Facilities that violate the rules would most likely have to file a corrective action plan, Conklin said.

Dana David, director of the Milestones Early Learning Center in Bloomington, said she supports the changes. She says her facility, which cares for 76 children, already follows the more stringent guidelines.

"It's important to begin instilling these practices in young children," she said.

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Information from: The Pantagraph, http://www.pantagraph.com

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