Caterpillars to Butterflies Childcare Center, a longtime LINC Educare provider, was recently selected as the first early learning site in the Greater Kansas City area to receive a Missouri Breastfeeding Friendly Child Care facility status.
Missouri Breastfeeding Friendly Child Care is a collaboration between the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) and the Missouri Breastfeeding Coalition. The program aims to bring an increased awareness about the importance of lactation support in child care facilities. The program recognizes child care facilities with policies supportive of their breastfeeding employees and mothers of the children in their care. Such policies offer a private space where mothers can pump or breastfeed, trained staff and supportive resources to help encourage breastfeeding.
A breastfeeding friendly child care site proactively supports the families they serve and their employees who choose to breastfeed their infants. They provide time, space and other benefits to encourage breastfeeding after a mom returns to work. Child care providers offering these supports receive positive feedback from their families and employees.
“Lactation support programs are a growing trend in businesses today as a means of improving family services to employees and clients, I believe being a breastfeeding friendly childcare site helps to remove some of the barriers and frustration women of color face in my community without feeling guilty about returning to work or school,” said Merlon Ragland, Caterpillars to Butterflies owner/director.
Over 70 percent of Missouri mothers choose breastfeeding as the optimal form of infant feeding. Yet many of these women do not meet their breastfeeding goals. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified returning to work as a major reason why many women stop breastfeeding. Child care providers are key to helping moms continue breastfeeding after they return to work.
Many studies have shown improved short- and long-term health of the breastfeeding mother and her child. Breastfed infants tend to be sick less often and have a lower risk of allergies and other health issues. Breastfeeding reduces a mom's risk for cancer, diabetes and osteoporosis. Businesses that support breastfeeding moms report higher employee retention, lower absenteeism, higher morale, greater productivity and reduced health care costs.
“We want our new mothers to know that we support their decision to continue breastfeeding,” said Ragland. “We are extremely pleased to be designated as a Missouri Breastfeeding Friendly Child Care facility.”
Ragland serves on the Educare advisory board.