The Georgia Asthma Control Program Presents the 2015 Asthma-Friendly Childcare Centers Awards

May 26, 2015

In 2013, the Georgia Asthma Control Program (GACP) established the Strategic Plan for Addressing Asthma in Georgia to improve asthma management and advance policy and systems changes that benefit Georgians of all ages living with the condition.

The plan is comprised of a four-pronged approach aimed at improving asthma control in Georgia through focus areas including the environment, family support, health care delivery systems and schools and childcare settings.

For Asthma Awareness Month, the Georgia Department of Public Health’s GACP was proud to celebrate the achievements made in two of these areas – environment and childcare settings – at its 2015 Asthma-Friendly Childcare Centers Awards ceremony that took place during the May 2015 Board of Public Health meeting.

Working in close partnership with the Department of Early Care and Learning: Bright from the Start, Region 4 of the Environmental Protection Agency, Region 4 of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration of Children and Families and Georgia’s Head Start Association, GACP recognized two childcare centers for their leadership in protecting the health of children living with asthma while at their facilities.

Chrislen Okoma, center director for Prime Care Learning Center II, and Steve White, director of Sheltering Arms Early Education and Family Centers, were on hand to accept the gold level awards for securing the proper training and expertise to respond to asthma emergencies among children, recognize signs and symptoms of asthma and maintain asthma-friendly environments.

“The Georgia Asthma Control Program works to educate the public on how environmental factors, health education and policies work together to support asthma management practices,” said Francesca Lopez, program manager, DPH GACP. “Our Asthma-Friendly Childcare Centers winners demonstrate that facilities can effectively place children’s health at the center of their facility’s operations while accommodating their existing educational goals. We are excited to recognize the achievements of our awardees and hope their efforts will inspire other childcare centers to implement asthma control plans.”

GACP’s work with childcare centers is not only serving a public health need, but also helping to combat an ongoing health challenge that significantly impacts Georgia’s youth each year.

According to DPH data, children under age 4 had the highest emergency room (ER) visits and hospitalization rates due to asthma. In 2013, there were more than 26,000 asthma-related ER visits among children under age 17.

While 71 percent of children in Georgia with persistent asthma use prescription medication, only 44 percent had prescriptions for both control and rescue medications in accordance with medical recommendations. Furthermore, 50 percent of children with asthma reported having limitations in their usual activities due to their asthma.

“Our data demonstrates how pervasive and burdensome the negative health effects of asthma are for Georgia’s children,” said Lopez. “We recommend families proactively create asthma action plans. Take time to educate children and their caregivers on what a triggers a child’s asthma symptoms, what medications are needed and when to seek medical attention. Having a solid understanding of an asthma action plan is not only key to living a better quality of life, but crucial in attaining a more positive health outcome in the event they face an asthma attack or respiratory distress.”

Visit DPH online to learn more about the Georgia Asthma Control Program and view resources available to support families and children living with this condition. 

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