ECE Recognition Program

Florida’s HEROs ECE Recognition is a voluntary recognition program. It is open to all early care and education centers in Florida that are licensed by the Florida Department of Children and Families. This program recognizes ECE centers for integrating the following best practices:

ECE providers play a vital role in the development of our state’s children. The goal of the recognition is for ECE providers to take proactive, voluntary steps to improve their program’s practices and policies related to encouraging healthy behaviors among the children and families they serve. Implementation of best practices in the ECE setting will pave the way for healthy lifestyle choices in youth that continues into their adulthood. Join early care and education (ECE) providers across Florida in the movement to integrate best practices focused on physical activity and nutrition into their programs.

Two children sitting on a step laughing and smiling

Application Requirements

  • Be a Florida licensed/registered early care and education (ECE) program: center-based (to include multi-site programs), family child care homes and early head start/head start programs (to include grantees with multiple site locations).
  • ECE program director must complete required trainings.
  • The recognition application must be completed in its entirety.

Recognition Program Incentives

Opportunities for CEUs

Kaplan Monetary Award

Marketing Materials

Technical Assistance

If you are the director or provider at a Florida ECE program, we want to support you on your journey towards providing a healthier environment for the children and families you serve. We work with stakeholders across the state to provide free technical assistance and trainings that will prepare your program to apply for the recognition.  Technical assistance is optional, and can be accessed by submitting an interest form. Once your interest form is submitted you will be connected with one of the technical assistance consultant listed below. Our technical assistance consultants will help you assess which FL HEROs best practices you are meet and create action steps to improve best practices you do not meet through the Go NAPSACC website. Go NAPSACC is a set of easy-to-use online tools and an online library of helpful videos, activities, and flyers. 

Certified Go NAPSACC Technical Assistance Consultants

Brittani Coorebcoore@hcsef.orgHealth Council of Southeast Florida
Candice S. Robersoncandice.roberson@flhealth.govFlorida Department of Health in Osceola County, Florida
Carmen M HernandezCarmen.Hernandez@FLHealth.govFlorida Department of Health Citrus County 
Catherine Hartmaryhart@ufl.eduUF/IFAS Family Nutrition Program
Chelsea Marshall-Hirvelacamhirvela@ufl.eduUF/IFAS Extension  Family Nutrition Program 
Esther Rowanesther.rowan@flhealth.govGadsden County Health Department 
Frankie WalkerFrankie.Walker@flhealth.govFlorida Department of Health in Escambia County
Jill Tauferjill.taufer@flhealth.govFlorida Department of Health Volusia County
Julia Sanchezjulia.sanchez@ufl.eduUniversity of Florida IFAS Extension Family Nutrition Program (FNP)
Kathleen Morales Perezkmoralesperez@ufl.eduUF/IFAS Family and Nutrition Program
Palak Guptapalak.gupta@flhealth.govFlorida Department of Health
Peace Nwagbopnwagbo@ufl.eduUniversity of Florida/IFAS Extension Family Nutrition Program
Ray NellisseryRay.Nellissery@flhealth.govFlorida Department of Health in Broward County
Rob ThomasRobert.Thomas@FLHealth.govFlorida Department of Health Sarasota
Lora Howelllora.howell@flhealth.govHealth Dept
Tara Gagetgage@ufl.eduUF/IFAS Extension Family Nutrition Program
Patrick Zayaspazayas@ufl.eduUniversity of Florida IFAS Extension Family Nutrition Program
Katrice DavisKatrice.Davis@flhealth.govFlorida Department of Health Jackson County
Emily Grantemily.grant@ufl.eduUF/IFAS Extension, Family Nutrition Program
Jeannie M Necessaryjnecessary@ufl.eduUniversity of Florida IFAS Extension Family Nutrition Program
Kelly Wilsonkelly.wilson@ufl.eduUF/IFAS Extension Family Nutrition Program
Jessica C Wilmerjessica.wilmer@flhealth.govFlorida Department of Health

Frequently Asked Questions


Any licensed early care and education family home, large family home or center can apply for recognition.

ECEs must complete all sections of the application. If the application requirement does not relate to their center, centers should indicate this by selecting the age groups they serve in the program information section

The recognition is valid for two years.

The requirements for the FL HEROs recognition program are updated to stay in line with current best practices for maintaining a healthy weight for children 0 to 5, and based on the guidance of the FL HEROs Stakeholder Committee. Therefore, recognition criteria may be revised at the time of recertification.  Please submit the most up-to-date FL HEROs Application, as well as, staff training certificates and support documentation from within the past 12 months 

  • Implementing best practices helps to create a healthier environment for the children your facility serves.
  • All centers that apply for the recognition program will have access to free trainings that provide continuing education units
  • Recognized ECE program are eligible for Kaplan monetary incentive
  • Recognized centers will also receive marketing materials to display at their center
  • Recognized ECE programs will also be featured on the website

Applications are  reviewed on a rolling basis, and applications will reviewed 3-4 weeks after submission

COVID-19 Modifications

The in-person UF/IFAS Healthy Kids Healthy Future Workshop is currently being offered virtually, Go NAPSACC offers on-demand trainings for each best practice, and the ABCs of a Healthy Me Training is a self-paced online training.

We understand that things have changed or been adapted due to COVID, so we are committed to making this process as convenient as possible for ECEs during this time. Since the recognition is good for 2-years, it will be best to use pre-COVID practices. However, if it is not an additional burden, it would be beneficial if ECE providers can highlight which best practices have been adapted or put on hold due to COVID-19 by making an addendum to their policy or sharing how this update was shared with a parent.

  • For example, during a recent virtual conference, other states shared how ECE providers have shifted to individual self-serve options to promote motor skills development and maintain some of the familystyle dining elements.

A live, virtual workshop or class for parents on a particular topic,  with flyers, event announcements, or handouts that display the topic and credentials/title of the presenter. Flyers, newsletters, emails, or handouts to parents with information or resources about any of the five best practices from credible topic experts at government agencies, educational institutes, or health foundations. 

  • This benchmark has not been modified due to COVID-19. The FL HEROs Benchmarks were developed based on the Preventing Childhood Obesity in ECE Program  3rd Edition Guidelines, which is a component of the Caring for Our Children National Guidelines. These national guidelines state that child care centers should limit educational screen time to 30 minutes per week of commercial-free programming, teachers should supervise this screen time, and teachers should always talk with students about what they are seeing during screen time. If this is typically the case we ask that a policy addendum be attached that reflects the typical policy and how it had been changed due to COVID-19.
  • We also understand from our calls with ECE programs that some preschoolers may be getting closer to 150 minutes per week or 30 minutes per day of screen time due to testing and literacy requirements and that some are offering Pre-K virtually. We will discuss this with our stakeholder committee to see if modifications or exceptions are needed. 

Training Requirements

ECE providers can participate in the six-session ABCs of a Healthy Me Training or connect with a certified Go NAPSACC Consultant to access FREE on-demand trainings, which both qualify for the pre-requisite training requirements.

Yes, as long as centers are licensed once they apply for the recognition they can begin the training process.

The “director position” at each site is the person that oversees the operation of the child care program and providers staff trainings. Please contact if your program structure would require someone else to take the training in place of the director.  A lead teacher is considered the main teacher the plans lessons for a class and directs classroom activities of each classroom. If your program’s structure does not have a lead teacher the training requirement applies to all classroom staff.

The in-person UF/IFAS Healthy Kids Healthy Future Workshop is currently being offered virtually, Go NAPSACC offers on-demand trainings for each best practice, and the ABCs of a Healthy Me Training is a self-paced online training.

ABCs of a Healthy Me training reports are reviewed on a monthly basis. If you completed the last quiz of each session you will be emailed a certificate of completion for the sessions you completed. Once you have completed all SIX sessions, your information will be sent to Palm Beach State College’s Institute of Excellence in Early Care and Education and you will be awarded one free corporate & continuing education childcare. You will be mailed a physical CEU certificate to the mailing address you reported on the last question of each training video. If you have any questions, concerns, or need to update your mainlining address please contact

  • Note: In 2020 we had a glitch and a few of our training reports were being sent to our training developer and were not captured in our records. Therefore anyone who completed the training in 2020, but did not receive an email please contact us. 

Multi-Site Applications

If you are applying as a center that has multiple locations, only one application that lists all locations is required. All site locations must meet the criteria you are applying for, and supporting documentation must be submitted for each site.

Documentation that is used across all sites such as policies, curriculum, monthly menus, parent handbooks, and parent handouts can be included once. Site-specific photos or parent engagement workshop flyers and sign-in sheets must be included for each site.

Yes each site will be eligible for a recognition certificate, Kaplan credits and will be listed on the FL HEROs website

Best Practice & Supporting DOcs

Early care and education centers must complete all sections of the application. If the application requirement does not relate to their center, centers should indicate this on the application.

ECEs programs can use resources and information about any of the five best practices from credible topic experts at government agencies, educational institutes, or health foundations. 

Requirements are prorated for programs that are part-time (less than 8 Hours) programs. Both the full-time and part-time program should meet best practice requirements