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Empower Program

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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Click on a question below to see the answer.

What is the Empower Program?

The Empower Program is a public health program for licensed child care facilities in Arizona that focuses on 10 strategies to empower children to lead healthy lives. Participating facilities receive a 50% discount for child care licensing fees.

When and how do I register?

Facilities can sign up at any time; however, if a facility wishes to participate, registration should be completed by the time a new or renewal application is submitted.

Registration is available by clicking on the “Register for Empower Pack’ button on the Empower Program website. Complete the registration form and click on the Submit button at the bottom of the page.

What is the Empower Pack?

Each Empower facility will receive an Empower Pack which contains great resources for you to use and share with families, including the Empower Guidebook, music CD, Empower Program window decal, laminated sheet of the Empower Standards, story books on family meals and oral health, and much more!

Do I need to register again at the time of licensing renewal?

You will continue to be enrolled in the Empower Program, unless you opt out of the program.

How will I get more information regarding the Empower Program?

The Empower Program website: The website contains the most current information including sample policies, an electronic version of the Empower Guidebook and tons of resources for the teachers and parents. The website is updated as new information becomes available.

The Empower listserv: Every Empower facility should be receiving emails through the Empower listserv that comes from the Bureau of Child Care Licensing.

Sign up for additional updates: To get additional updates and announcements on the Empower Program, please sign up through the Arizona Department of Health Services eCommunications service.

The Empower Program will be evaluated to ensure that we are best serving the needs of our children and also to ensure that effective technical assistance is provided to child care providers. You should expect to be questioned on the Empower Program by your Surveyor. Additional evaluation methods are currently being explored.

When am I expected to implement the Standards?

July 1st, 2013, is when all of the policies are effective. Your Surveyor will complete the Standards checklist as part of the inspection process during your annual or renewal inspection.

What does the physical activity Standard look like for children attending child care for 4 hours, 8 hours, 10 hours, or summer camps, etc.?

For children birth through 11 months:

Per 8-hour day, Empower recommends that you start with short periods of tummy time (three to five minutes) and slowly increase as the infant shows enjoyment. Empower recommends you increase up to 30 minutes of tummy time and include up to 30 minutes for activities that safely support infants’ developmental milestones, for 8-hour days.

Recommendation for 3-hour child care program: For Empower programs that are 3 hours in length, Empower recommends that you start with short periods of tummy time (three to five minutes) and slowly increase as the infant shows enjoyment, up to 10-15 minutes. In addition, provide 10-15 minutes of activities that safely support infants’ developmental milestones.

Length of child care program

Start with As child shows enjoyment, increase tummy time to Time provided for activities that safely support infants’ developmental milestones

  • 3 hours 3-5 minutes of tummy time 10-15 minutes 10-15 minutes
  • 4 hours 3-5 minutes of tummy time 15 minutes 15 minutes
  • 6 hours 3-5 minutes of tummy time 20-25 minutes 20-25 minutes
  • 10 hours 3-5 minutes of tummy time 35-40 minutes 35-40 minutes

For children 1-6+ years:

Empower recommends 60 minutes of physical activity per 8-hour day. Half of the time should be spent in physical activity should be free-play and the other half should be teacher-led.

Recommendation: For Empower programs that are 3 hours in length, attain between 20-25 minutes of physical activity per 3-hour program, with about 10-15 minutes of that spent in free-play and 10-15 minutes of that spent in teacher-led physical activity.

Length of Child Care Program

Time Spent in Free-Play Time Spent in Teacher-led Total Time in Physical Activity

  • 3 hours 10-15 minutes 10-15 minutes 20-25 minutes
  • 4 hours 15 minutes 15 minutes 30 minutes
  • 6 hours 20-25 minutes 20-25 minutes 45 minutes
  • 10 hours 35-40 minutes 35-40 minutes 75 minutes

Classroom space is limited; can you provide a wide range of activities to implement in small spaces that meet gross motor skills needs?

Limited space is a huge barrier with child care centers, and the Empower Program understands how it can be challenging. We provide a variety of space-limited activities. Please check under our Physical Activity Resource tab for suggestions. Another good guide for space-limited activities is the Sesame Street We Have the Move guide that identifies activities that are “Small Spaces, Great Ideas.”

Does screen time include activities used to promote education? What about after-school programs and children using technology (e.g., smart boards) to do homework?

Screen time should be limited to educational and physical activity use only. Computer use for school-age children completing homework assignments or children with special health care needs who require the use of assistive and adaptive computer technology are excluded from the screen time limitation. Physically active screen time, such as dancing video games, is also excluded from the screen time limitation.

If my facility doesn’t participate in the CACFP, does that exempt us from the Empower Program?

We encourage every facility to check eligibility to participate in the CACFP. However, if you are not participating and not eligible, you will continue to be enrolled In the Empower Program.

How will my facility be evaluated on the Empower Program?

The Empower Program will be evaluated to ensure that we are best serving the needs of our children and also to ensure that effective technical assistance is provided to child care providers. You should expect to be asked about the Empower Program by your Surveyor. Additional evaluation methods are currently being explored.

How do we implement family-style meals with children who bring food from home?

We will work with individual programs to find a solution that fits the program’s needs. For example, if the program serves snacks, perhaps the snacks can be served family-style.

How can we serve family-style in a sanitary way?

To keep things sanitary, you must first make sure that all adults and children follow food safety practices by washing their hands before food preparation, table set-up and meal service, and after clean-up. You can display signs for hand washing by the sink area so children can see it.

You can also talk to the children about holding the bowls on the outside, using two hands, and not letting their fingers touch the food.

Explain the importance of not eating off of the serving utensils or using their eating utensils to serve food. Children who need more help with family-style should be seated by adults.

Some of the children in my program are allergic to milk. Can I serve them an alternative such as soy or goat milk?

Children who have an allergy or another special need can be served according to parents’ or the child’s health care provider’s written instructions.

What if my program is housed in a commercial building or church and people sometimes smoke outside the building when my program is not offered?

The Standard requires that a program participating in the Empower Program maintain their premises as smoke-free 24 hours a day. For further assistance or clarification, please feel free to contact Courtney Ward at: 602-542-2075 or Email: wardc@azdhs.gov.