People’s lifestyle has a tremendous impact on their health. Caring for young children allows laying a foundation for their future physical and mental development and gives the opportunity to form awareness for healthy living. Kindergarten plays in important role in this development.
This is why Styria vitalis started the project in 2012. Since 2013 Styria vitalis cooperates with the Styrian state health insurance fund in order to establish a „healthy kindergarten“ network throughout Styria. The project is funded by Fonds Gesundes Österreich (Healthy Austria Fund), the state Styria and funds from the “shared health tasks in the pharmaceuticals framework contract”.
A central project goal is to build a solid foundation for good health already in people’s early childhood. The project also wants to strengthen the health and health competences of kindergarten teachers and child care professionals and it wants to reach and motivate parents as experts for the needs of their children. On a macro level the network intends to anchor the topic early childhood health in kindergarten settings in regional politics (Styria State Health Insurance Fund, STGKK, 2014).
Promoting health in a kindergarten setting is a new discipline that is under enormous pressure to prove the impact of its activities through assessment. The STGKK commissioned the University of Applied Sciences Burgenland’s Department of Health to carry out an external network and awareness assessment related to the project “Healthy Kindergarten”.
The methodological approach of the university’s Department of Health is theory-based and participatory.
Following questions are at the centre of the network analysis:
- What are the challenges and success criteria related to the set-up of the network “Healthy Kindergarten” in regard to relevant stakeholders (public institutions, federal, regional government, social security bodies, education institutions, funding institutions, special interest groups, cooperation partners and lecturers)? How do the cooperation, exchange of experience and communication & information flow work within the network?
- What aspects secure the sustainability of the project „Healthy Kindergarten“?
These questions are answered selecting the following methods: literature and document analysis, focus group discussions, personal, partially standardized expert interviews. In addition to processing the experiences that stems from the project‘s network activities, the STGKK should receive valuable ideas and recommendations for a successful and viable continuation of the network.
To analyse people’s awareness of the project “Healthy Kindergarten – growing side by side” a document and media analysis, as well as telephone interviews with kindergarten teacher of Styrian kindergartens that do not yet partake in the network, were made. The central question of the awareness analysis is: does the public recognize and make use of the project ‘Healthy Kindergarten’.
In addition to this the University of Applied Sciences Burgenland was commissioned to process the evaluation results and deliver an integrated evaluation report.