Young children’s physical activity (PA) is influenced by their child care environment. This study assessed PA practices in centers from Massachusetts (MA) and Rhode Island (RI), compared them to best practice recommendations, and assessed differences between states and center profit status. We also assessed weather-related practices.
Sixty percent of MA and 54% of RI directors returned a survey, for a total of 254. Recommendations were 1) daily outdoor play, 2) providing outdoor play area, 3) limiting fixed play structures, 4) variety of portable play equipment, and 5) providing indoor play area. We fit multivariable linear regression models to examine adjusted associations between state, profit status, PA, and weather-related practices.
MA did not differ from RI in meeting PA recommendations (β = 0.03; 0.15, 0.21; P = .72), but MA centers scored higher on weather-related practices (β = 0.47; 0.16, 0.79; P = .004). For-profit centers had lower PA scores compared with nonprofits (β = −0.20; 95% CI: −0.38, −0.02; P = .03), but they did not differ for weather (β = 0.12; −0.19, 0.44; P = .44).
More MA centers allowed children outside in light rain or snow. For-profit centers had more equipment—both fixed and portable. Results from this study may help inform interventions to increase PA in children.