Mission: To reduce the burden of asthma and improve the health and quality of life for all persons affected by asthma through effective control of the disease.
Asthma affects an estimated 24 million people in the United States and is characterized as the most common chronic childhood disease. According to the 2013 Georgia Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS), Georgia’s asthma prevalence rate of children ages 0-17 was 10.8%, and higher than the U.S. rate (9.2%).
In 2015, there were 2,069 ER visits (1136.7 per 100,000) and 150 asthma-related hospitalizations (82.4 per 100,000) within the 0-17 age group in Cobb County. Douglas County had 634 asthma-related ER visits (1,691 per 100,000) and 33 hospitalizations (88 per 100,000) within the same age range. In Cobb County, children between the ages of 0-4 had the highest rates of asthma-related emergency room visits although the Georgia prevalence for the disease is nearly two times greater in the 5-9 age group.
Through education, awareness, and policy development, Cobb & Douglas Public Health works to ensure asthma management starts early. In collaboration with the Georgia Asthma Control Program, CDPH partners with schools and childcare centers to help create and maintain an asthma-friendly environment which helps children affected by the chronic disease learn and thrive.
Asthma-friendly policies and procedures reduce asthma triggers and support asthma management. Well controlled asthma enhances education performance and improves attendance for students and staff. Schools with the following comprehensive policies and procedures are eligible for recognition:
- 100% Tobacco Free School – This policy prohibits the use of all tobacco products on school grounds and property at all times. Enforcement procedures should be in place and opportunities for cessation and prevention education should be available. The policy should clearly define all terms and conditions.
- No Idling Zones (Buses Only) – This policy outlines bus idling should be limited to 3-5 minutes. It provides guidelines on idling during cold weather and when waiting for students during fieldtrips or extracurricular activities.
- Medication Policy – Components of this policy include requiring medication to be accompanied by written instruction from a healthcare provider and in its original container. It also describes the process to allow students to carry asthma medication.
- Integrated Pest Management – This policy outlines pest management procedures for school properties such as including a plan to communicate with staff and parents about the IPM program and maintaining a list of pesticides that may be used on the premises.
- School asthma – Components of this policy instruct schools to incorporate asthma awareness into the curriculum, provide educational opportunities for staff, and put procedures in place to identify students with significant asthma morbidity.
Asthma-Friendly Childcare Centers
Childcare centers interested in becoming an Asthma-Friendly center must provide staff training on asthma and take steps to improve asthma management at their center. There are 4 different levels of asthma-friendly recognition for childcare centers.
For Bronze level recognition, childcare centers must:
- Provide asthma-centered training to staff (first course of the Georgia Asthma Management Education in Childcare Settings curriculum)
- Develop an Asthma Leadership Team – a small team of staff who is focused on assessing and improving asthma management
- Gather Asthma Action Plans for children with asthma
- Display educational asthma themed posters to maintain staff awareness
For Silver level recognition, childcare centers must:
- Provide training on the second course of the Georgia Asthma Management Education in Childcare Settings curriculum to members of the Asthma Leadership Team
- Pass an environmental triggers assessment with at least an 80%
- Provide educational opportunities for parents on asthma management
For Gold level recognition, childcare centers must:
- Have an air quality plan
- Take steps to improve indoor air quality
- Provide training on the third course of the Georgia Asthma Management Education in Childcare Settings curriculum to members of the Asthma Leadership Team
For Platinum level recognition, childcare centers must:
- Adopt comprehensive asthma friendly childcare center policies
- Adopt policies to review asthma-friendly requirements annually
Georgia Asthma Management Education in Childcare Settings
The GAME-CS curriculum was developed for early childcare settings to be able to:
- Appropriately respond to asthma emergencies
- Recognize asthma symptoms and triggers
- Maintain an asthma-friendly environment
The three courses of the curriculum include Foundations of Asthma Management, Understanding Medications and Devices, and Creating an Asthma-Friendly Environment. Each course has been approved by DECAL’s Professional Development System and Early Care Education (ECE) credits are awarded upon completion.
If you are interested in receiving GAME-CS training, want more information about the Asthma-Friendly Recognition process, or desire technical assistance in developing asthma-friendly policies, please call the Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention office at 770-432-7937.