Monthly News and Updates from IdahoSTARS


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During the COVID-19 pandemic, asthma treatments using inhalers with spacers are preferred over nebulizer treatments whenever possible. It isn’t certain whether aerosols generated by nebulizer treatments are potentially infectious, since there have not been enough scientific studies yet.

 If using an inhaler is not possible, childcare centers should have and use the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff who administer nebulizer treatments. PPE that should be used when administering nebulizer treatments to students with asthma consists of gloves, medical or surgical facemasks and eye protection. During this COVID-19 pandemic, if a nebulizer treatment or use of peak flow meter is necessary at a childcare center for a student, the treatment should take place in an enclosed area away from the other children. The number of people allowed in the room during a treatment should be limited to the student and the staff member administering the treatment. After the nebulizer treatment, the room should immediately be cleaned following the routine cleaning and disinfection procedures used in your facility. CDC has information on how to clean and disinfect and how to prevent asthma attacks triggered by cleaning and disinfecting activities. Symptoms of asthma and COVID-19 may overlap, including cough and shortness of breath, so be sure to use your wellness checks to be sure the child is well enough to attend childcare each day. 

Please contact your Child Care Health Consultant at Idaho STARS if you have questions or need advice.

COVID-19 Contingency Plan

We are working hard to maintain continuity for our children and families while maintaining adherence to public health advisories. We have developed a staged plan of response that is based on what we know about COVID-19. 

Phase 1 What we know is that like all other viruses the most effective way to reduce spread is to actively practice proper handwashing, cough etiquette and staying home when sick.

  • Increased sanitization and disinfecting of all spaces in our program.
  • Continue to adhere to our strict handwashing policies for children and staff entering the program.
  • Closely monitoring staff and clients for illness. The following exclusion guidelines from the CDC will apply to all families and staff in our program effective immediately:
    • If an individual has a fever of 100.4 or more they will be excluded from work or attending the program for 24 hours after fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medicines;
    • If an individual has a fever of 99.0 or more paired with coughing or sneezing will be excluded from work or attending the program for 24 hours after fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medicines;
  • Staff will sign children in and sign children out to avoid the potential spread through shared  pens.

Phase 2 Reducing exposure in large groups. This phase will be implemented immediately if there is a positive test of an individual with COVID-19 in the surrounding area.

  • Restriction of attendance for children that attend the program. Families will choose if their child will attend child care. If a parent chooses for their child to attend, we cannot control the spread of viruses given the large amount of children despite our best intentions.
  • Restriction of use of open air parks and nature areas where the child and staff can be at least 6 feet away from other people– no other public areas (ie. field trips, library or stores) to reduce exposure.
  • All staff and children will have their temperature checked upon arrival.

Phase 3 Closure. This phase will be implemented if ordered by public health officials or if there is a report of exposure by staff or child to COVID-19. Every effort will be made to give notice of this but we are limited to the timeframes in which were are informed of requirements.

  • We will not provide childcare in this phase.

The most challenging aspect of this issue is the feeling of complete lack of control. There are some things that we can all do to maintain our health and the health of others:

  • WASH, WASH, WASH YOUR HANDS! This cannot be promoted enough and is the most effective step towards preventing the spread of any virus.
  • Do not touch your face, particularly your eyes, nose or mouth. These are the most vulnerable areas to viral infection. If you must touch your face use a clean cloth or disposable tissue and wash your hands afterwards. We are teaching the children about this important step, please reinforce this at home and/or when in the community.
  • You and your child must get plenty of rest and hydrate so that you have a strong immune system. Consider limiting extra-curricular or work at home activities that cause your or your child’s bedtime routines to shift. Children need 12 hours of sleep a day for optimum health.
  • Exercise. Your bodies need fresh air and movement to keep lungs healthy. Go to the park, hike, walk around the block, play in the back yard. Nature is our friend in this situation, choose natural play settings over commercial play settings such as bouncy houses, indoor play areas or gyms.
  • Be sure to wash your outerwear more frequently. We are all using our sleeves to cough or open doors which is great but it is important to know that coronavirus lives on fabric for up to 3 days. When you get home throw your outerwear into the dryer on high for 20 minutes to sanitize it.
  • Help others! I cannot encourage you enough to help your neighbors. Check in on that elderly or housebound neighbor. Maybe offer to get things for them at the store to limit their exposure, check in to see that they have food or better yet – toilet paper!
  • Do not hoard, we do not have food or supply shortages in the U.S. unless people buy all of the toilet paper or rice at a store. The CDC is recommending a 2-week supply on hand, our system of manufacturing is not designed for 350 million people to all buy toilet paper in the same day. Supply chains will be able to meet everyone’s needs if everyone buys groceries and supplies just like they did in December before anyone had heard of the coronavirus.

As always, we are committed to our staff and families and will do everything we can to ensure continuity and a safe, healthy place for your child(ren). Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.


Responsive feeding means staff offer healthful food and trust children to eat according to their body’s cues of hunger and satisfaction. (

Responsive eating means children act on their feelings of hunger and satisfaction. They choose how much and whether to eat food made available by adults.

Family style meal service is an evidence-based practice to support responsive feeding and eating. Children control what food and amount of food they serve themselves from common bowls and pitchers. They eat to meet hunger and satisfaction. Adults avoid pressuring children to take and eat more food, less food, or to eat a specific food.

Pre-plated meal service means food is placed on children’s plates and liquid is pre-poured. Plates and cups may be pre-filled in a kitchen, served cafeteria style by staff, or served directly to plates and cups by staff at tableside. Responsive feeding concepts can be applied to pre-plated meal service.

Guidance from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention paused family-style meal service for child care programs during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Guidance from the CDC about food preparation and meal service is available at


  • If a cafeteria or group dining room is typically used, serve meals in classrooms instead. If meals are typically served family-style, plate each child’s meal to serve it so that multiple children are not using the same serving utensils.
  • Food preparation should not be done by the same staff who diaper children.
  • Sinks used for food preparation should not be used for any other purposes.
  • Caregivers should ensure children wash hands prior to and immediately after eating.
  • Caregivers should wash their hands before preparing food and after helping children to eat.”


Preparation for transition to pre-plated meal service will ease the way to relaxed mealtimes where children’s hunger and nutrition needs are satisfied.

Family Communication

Inform families about the temporary change from family style meal service to pre-plated service. Points to communicate are:

  • Explain that due to COVID 19 pandemic, temporarily children will not serve themselves at mealtimes. Describe how food will be served. Explain that the change will reduce children’s sharing of utensils, bowls, and cups.
  • Address handwashing and sanitation strategies for pre-plated mealtimes.
  • Explain how staff will prepare children for pre-plated meals, and how they will support new routines with the children.
  • Encourage families to give children opportunities to serve themselves at home.
  • Communicate daily about how their child responds to pre-plated mealtimes.

Staff Planning and Preparation

  • Prepare for quality mealtimes, thinking safety and organization.
  • Plan for and increase oversight of handwashing before meals that fit arrival of pre-plated food. Increase supervision of handwashing after meals, and during meals when needed.
  • Address staff ratios and schedules so that at least one adult is ready to sit as the first children begin eating.
  • Assure staff sit down as quickly as possible to engage children with assurance and support. Staff will model getting a plate of food and eating the food.
  • During first weeks of transition, offer food children know and enjoy. Avoid introducing unfamiliar foods.
  • Make plans for children who are still hungry after eating a first serving. Decide if and how second helpings will be served. (Hint: Asking for more does not mean a child wants a full serving. When serving seconds, put a bit on the plate and add more as a child directs.)
  • Assure staff agree with plans and will be ready to implement routines for arrival and clearing of food.
  • Ensure staff avoid side talk among adults about the food or how it is presented. Children hear those comments. Such comments can unnecessarily alarm or pressure children to eat or not to eat.

Preparing and Supporting Children

  1. Prepare children for pre-plated mealtimes. Use group times to discuss pre-plated meals.
  • Be cautious about giving too much information about “germs.” A simple explanation: “We’re doing something new at lunch. We will each have our own plate and cup. We will not share bowls and pitchers. (Note: an underlying point for staff and families is expectation that family style dining will return after the pandemic is controlled. It is unwise to portray family style dining as an unsafe practice to the children or families.)
  • Explain that food will be placed on their plates and drinks poured.
  • Explain what it will be like at the table (i.e., there will be a plate of food for each person; there will not be serving bowls or pitchers or serving utensils on the table; and, each child will have their own spoon, fork, and knife.)
  • Explain where the food is prepared.
  • Explain who puts food on their plates and where that happens.
  • If food will be totally pre-plated, assure children that each child will get the same amount of each food. Tell them they can decide how much they eat of each food.
  • If second helpings will be available, explain that there is enough food for everyone.
  • If food will be served by adults at tableside from bowls and pitcher, or served cafeteria style, and if children have a choice of what and how much goes on their plates, explain how that will work. Tell children they can choose what foods they want and how much they want, just as they did when they served themselves from bowls and pitchers.
  • If additional mealtime routines are coming, explain those briefly. Repeatedly explain those routines before mealtimes, during mealtimes, and at the end of mealtimes.

  1. Children’s emerging skills for making choices and judging amounts might be especially challenged. Anticipate that some children will show emotional reactions when they must respond about what and how much food they want on their plate. These may range from withdrawal to acting out behaviors.
  • If children adamantly insist that they do not like a pre-plated food or beverage, tell them they can say no to that food, or move food or beverage to the side of their plate, or even to a napkin beside their plate.
  • If children try a food and find it distasteful, allow them to spit it out to a napkin.
  • Think through pros, cons, and possible consequences of pre-plated meal service. Expect and prepare for children’s resistance and concerns. Foods might be touching. Child may not want a disliked food to be placed on her plate. Child resists making a choice. Child is unhappy with his choice. Child gags simply smelling a food and wants it gone. Light eater is overwhelmed by a plate full of food. Heavy eater worries there is not enough. Some may compare amounts on their plate to others. Some children may try to please the server, rather than make personal choices.


  1. Recognize potential emotional costs of changing the meal-service routine. Children may be worried as they talk about why this is on my plate; who put this food on my plate; do I have to eat it; my food is touching; where are the serving bowls; can I have more; why do I have so much; if I do not like it why is it on my plate; what if I do not want to eat this; or, I do not want that person to put food on my plate because I want you to do it. Concerns about getting their plates filled may challenge children who are just learning to wait. Responsive staff will quickly address a child’s concerns. This includes giving practical support (i.e., helping a child remove or replace a food, if appropriate) or offering information and emotional support to ease a child’s concerns.

Some children may be especially anxious about pre-plated service. Social distancing of staff and children may increase anxiety. Staff should watch for anxious children, choosing seats that allow quick up and down among distanced tables.

Outside the Mealtime

Children learn from and enjoy scooping, pouring, and sorting when they use family style service. Benefits to hand skills and cognitive skills are clear. Though children cannot serve themselves at this time, offer opportunities for these activities during non-meal activities. Equip sand and water play and dramatic play with supportive items.  

Trust and Respect

Just as they do with family style meal service, staff should continue to trust and respect children’s decisions about how much or whether to drink or eat. A full cup or plate can tempt adults to pressure a child to eat more food, less food, or specific foods. In quality pre-plated meal service, staff will avoid pressuring children to overcome hunger and satisfaction cues.

Stay true to responsive feeding so children can stay true to responsive eating.

For more information, contact Janice Fletcher, EdD, Professor, Center on Disabilities and Human Development, University of Idaho.

Other contributors to this document are:

  • Madeleine Sigman-Grant, PhD, Professor Emerita, University of Nebraska, Reno
  • Dipti Dev, PhD, Betti and Richard Robinson Associate Professor and Extension Specialist, Department of Child, Youth, and Family Studies, University of Nebraska, Lincoln
  • Julie Fodor, PhD, Associate Professor, Center on Disabilities and Human Development, College of Education, Health and Human Sciences, University of Idaho
  • Jill Hobbs, RD, LDN IdahoSTARS Health Consultant, Center on Disabilities and Human Development, College of Education, Health and Human Sciences, University of Idaho

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While enduring the long bone-chilling nights of winter, Idahoans eagerly anticipate the arrival of the warm, blue sky days of summer. Unfortunately, the Summer of 2020 will undoubtedly be vastly different to the one longed for in winter. Due to COVID-19, summer activities will be altered from summers past. Social distancing will be the norm and large gatherings of people will continue to be discouraged. Updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and local and state governments will continue to influence our daily activities. Even so, it is beneficial for adults and children to get outdoors and enjoy the fresh air and warmth of the summer sun. Childcare providers are encouraged to provide outdoor play opportunities for children of all ages while adhering to directives from the CDC regarding social distancing and minimizing exposure risk to infectious diseases including COVID-19.


Playground Safety

Currently, public playgrounds remain closed to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. Children can play on the playground of the childcare facility; however, providers are encouraged to limit the number of children on the playground at any one time. It is important to disinfect the play equipment after each group of children. Playground safety is important. Each year in the United States, more than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger are treated in emergency departments from playground related injuries. Falls at home and on the playground are a common cause of injury. The most common injuries from falling off play equipment including swings and slides are injuries to the face, head, or arms. Children need to wear properly fitted helmets when riding bicycles, tricycles, and skateboards. Kids often crash into obstacles or lose control. Supervision is required. The AAP recommend that children under 5 not be allowed to use skateboards or two-wheeled scooters.

  • A preschool-age child shouldn’t be more than four feet off the ground.
  • Constant supervision is needed.
  • Routinely inspect the play equipment for any hazards.
  • Make sure that equipment is well maintained and that there are no exposed bolts or open “S” hooks.
  • The surface under the playground equipment needs to be safe, cushioned, and well-maintained.


Sun Safety

Heat related illnesses occur when the body’s temperature control system is overloaded. The best defense against heat-related illness is prevention. Infants and children up to age 4 are at greatest risk, but any age group can be affected. Just a few serious sunburns can increase the risk of skin cancer later in life. Skin needs to be protected from harmful UV rays. It is best practice to have written permission from parents before using sunscreen on a child.

  • Avoid scheduling outdoor play during the hottest part of the day.
  • Ensure that shade is available.
  • Instruct parents to dress infants and children in loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Make sure the children stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Avoid high sugar drinks.
  • Keep kids hydrated and cool.
  • Observe children for signs of heat exhaustion including pale skin, dizziness, headache, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting. Seek immediate medical care if a child exhibits symptom of heat-related illness.
  • Sunscreen containing a SPF 15 or higher and UVA/UVB protection is recommended every time children and adults go outside.


Transportation Safety

When transporting children, always account for every child and never leave children in a parked car. Even when it feels cool outside, the interior temperature of a car can reach dangerous levels quickly and having a window partially open does not prevent temps from rising. The temperature inside a car can increase almost 20 degrees Fahrenheit within the first 10 minutes. A child left in a parked car is at greatest risk for heat stroke and possibly death.


Food Safety

Perishable food that is left out at picnics or other outdoor activities is vulnerable to bacteria that grows quickly in the warm temperatures. Ensure that food is cooked thoroughly. Wash your hands often when preparing and handling the food and prevent cross-contamination by using separate plates for raw and cooked foods. Never leave food out for more than an hour in warm temperatures. It is advised to store the food in a well-insulated cooler packed with plenty of ice. Symptoms of food poisoning include nausea, cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea. In severe cases, symptoms may also include fever and bloody stools.

Water Safety

Water-related activities are popular during the warm summer months. States are beginning to allow the reopening of swimming pools under certain guidelines. Drownings are the leading cause of injury deaths for young children ages 1 to 4. According to data from the CDC, three children die every day as a result of drowning. Always supervise children when in or around water. A responsible adult should constantly watch young children. Drownings can occur in wading pools or standing buckets of water. Never leave open containers of water or unsecured pools available to children. The CDC website has great information on summer safety. Follow the safety protocols and have a great, safe summer!

Kathy Gates, RN (Region 6 CCHC)

“I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where it was always June.” - L. M. Montgomery

woman cheering.jpg

You may have completed ECE related credits without knowing it! 

For example, “Intro to Sociology” and “Intro to Psychology” courses are considered ECE.
When your education is verified, we can give you credit for your accomplishment by recognizing you on the education pathway.

  • Your PDS Anniversary Recognition amount is based on your level on the education pathway.

Why are we interested in your education?
Understanding the education level of our workforce helps IdahoSTARS advocate for more investments in educational support and incentives.

We made it simple!
Log into RISE, go to “My Documents” and choose “Diploma” or “Transcript Evaluation”, then upload your document(s).

  • Official transcripts are not required! If it shows your name, the University’s name, the course number/title/date completed/credits earned, we can evaluate it!

Even better news…
All your information in RISE stays with you! It is a safe place to store a copy of your academic record and could come in handy when looking for new employment.

  • In RISE, your education, Pediatric First Aid/CPR, Child Care Worker License, and training history all live in one place.

No ECE Education? No problem!
IdahoSTARS offers the following scholarships to eligible PDS Participants:
• CDA Assessment/Renewal Scholarships
• Single Course Scholarships
• Academic Degree Scholarships
• GED Testing Reimbursement Scholarship
• Training Scholarships/Reimbursement

*A winner will be chosen at random from the approved Diplomas and Transcripts uploaded into RISE between June 1st - June 30th


Fostering Social Emotional Competence with Julie Fodor, PhD., Director of Center on Disabilities and Human Development

Saturday, June 27  (Register by June 25)
10:30-1:30 (PT)
11:30-2:30 (MT)
3 FREE training hours

This training will provide evidence-based practices for promoting young children’s healthy social and emotional development. The content will be based on Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) and the Pyramid Model approaches to providing universal supports to all children.

*You MUST pre-register to attend as there are limited spots available.
This is a live webinar training taken through your computer or a smartphone. You will need a camera and audio to be able to participate in the training. The training link and any handouts will be emailed to you the day before the training.

How to register:
1. Log in to your IdahoSTARS RISE account
2. Go to the training calendar for June and select the time you want to attend
3. Select register at the bottom of the training information page

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Is your program information current in RISE? Now is the perfect time to go in and update your rates and availability and more! Parents will begin searching for child care in the coming weeks and you'll want accurate information. Update as often as your availability changes so that we can let parents know more about you! Questions? Call 211 and ask for your Resource Specialist or email your Regional Office.

To view the video, please click on this link. 
“During this challenging time, we at IdahoSTARS and Idaho Association for the Education of the Young Child and Idaho Center for the Disabilities and Human Development, want to let child care professionals and early childhood educators know we are working on your behalf so that you have the resources and support you need now. Whether you’ve had to temporarily close your program or you’re still open nurturing children in ever-changing conditions, every one of us thinks about your difficult situation and how deeply your businesses and families have been impacted. We are working for you because you’re important to us, important to children, important to society. We know the job you do is essential every day, not just during the days of crisis and we’re preparing for the day you’ll be fully open welcoming families once again. We’ll be here then, too. Thank you for all you do for Idaho’s families. Idaho doesn’t work without you. You work so we can work.”

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Register today for this great training!  In this training, given by IdahoSTARS Laura Thomas,  you will learn how to build upon your strengths as a child care professional. We will discuss ways to motivate staff and co-workers and present ourselves professionally to parents. We will also discuss how to get the most out of professional development and goal setting.


  1. Not all bleach is the same , read the list of  active ingredients  before deciding to purchase the bleach for disinfecting purposes.  It's important to have sodium hypochlorite  identified on the label with at least 5.25% to ensure it's EPA registered.  This means it is effective against SARS- CoV- 2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.  Unfortunately, with limited supplies available in some areas, child care staff are unknowingly purchasing “splash-less” bleach or bleach concentrations without at least 5.25% sodium hypochlorite. Do NOT use splash-less bleach.
  2. According to the CDC, for hand-sanitizer to be effective, it must contain at least 60% alcohol to be effective against unwanted viruses and other microorganisms.  Additionally, it is always recommend to wash with soap and water, using hand-sanitizer after or if soap and water is not readily available.                                                                                                                                                                                                                            **Since alcohol based sanitizers have potential to be toxic if ingested, the use of it, is highly discouraged on children under 2 years of age.  
  3. Some bleach alternatives have been identified by the EPA as effective against the virus that causes COVID-19, human coronavirus.  If you are using or are considering using a bleach alternative, please review the EPA list N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS- CoV- 2 or talk with a child care health consultant to help identify if your product is useful in disinfecting during this pandemic.