Health, Safety, and Nutrition

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About this Competency

This competency area addresses the knowledge and skills early childhood educators are expected to have to support children's physical, emotional, and mental health. The competency area was written with the understanding that early childhood educators will comply with the relevant sections of the California Code of Regulations, Title 22, that impact Community Care Licensing in California. A key concept in this competency area is that children's health encompasses overall fitness and well-being; it is not simply the absence of illness or injury. Equally important is the acknowledgment that children’s health is related to family functioning as well as the sociocultural context and physical environment in which children live. The emphasis, therefore, is on a relationship-based approach to supporting child and family well-being rather than on policies and regulations. This section includes competencies related to promotion and prevention, such as following sound health and safety practices, providing nutritious meals and snacks, and offering several periods of outdoor play each day. It also includes interventions, such as emergency response and administration of medication. At all levels of this competency area, early childhood educators are expected to consider the ways in which families' diverse cultural, linguistic, and socioeconomic backgrounds may be incorporated into practices related to health, safety, and nutrition.

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Watch the Video Overview for this Competency

California Early Childhood Educator Competencies

California Early Childhood Educator Competencies Wheel

Framing Questions

Framing questions identify some of the major themes in this competency. They provide you with a starting point. As you explore this competency, add your own framing questions for issues you want to further examine.

  • How do you discover and negotiate the different values and beliefs of the families in your program around health and nutrition?
  • How do you ensure that children have daily active outdoor experiences?
  • How do you encourage children to take risks that build competence and confidence while still keeping them safe?
  • How do you advocate for physical environments that challenge existing regulations?
  • How do you discover and negotiate the different values and beliefs of the families in your program around health and nutrition?


Keep these dispositions in mind as you explore the Framing Questions. If you mindfully adopt these dispositions, you will realize the Desired Outcomes for Practitioners and for Children.

  • Values the cultivation of self-care and personal safety skills and judgment in children.
  • Values family participation in the creation and implementation of policies and practices concerning health, safety, nutrition, and physical development.
  • Values the inclusion of children and families as active participants in learning about, health, safety, and nutrition.
  • Recognizes that the health and safety of staff influence the health and safety of children and families.

Desired Outcomes for practitioners

If I have these dispositions, then I will…

  • allow rules and regulations to become meaningful in the context of practice.
  • discover the values, practices, beliefs and routines of members of my community.
  • integrate health, safety and nutrition into pedagogy and practice.
  • negotiate differences among members of my community.

Desired Outcomes for Children

If teachers and caregivers have these dispositions, then children will…

  • get to try new things.
  • feel strong and capable.
  • know that grown-ups trust their judgment.
  • get better at taking care of their bodies.
  • learn about the ways their friends’ families do things.
  • help their friends learn about how their own families do things.

Keys to Reflection and Inquiry

The CompSAT Keys to Reflection and Inquiry offer you a protocol to use in whatever setting you work as an early childhood educator. Learn how you can integrate the six Keys into your work. Select one of the Keys below to practice reflecting with questions related to the competency area of Health, Safety, and Nutrition.


Choose from one of the Keys below to view additional information related to this Competency!

Build Your Portfolio

Create your own multimedia video presentation.

Portfolio screenshot

Make a video for my portfolio? Me? Yes, you! You can create videos of your teaching and learning experiences with a variety of Internet tools that enable you to take your smart phone or camcorder videos and edit them into short, coherent stories. Look at what one director did to document her program’s work on their nutrition program. Check out the CompSAT Portfolio Guide for tips.

View the Sample Video  View the Portfolio Sample

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