Q&A: Statements of Support from the Health Department and Local Government

Getting started on a project can be the hardest part. We are reminded of that in the Chinese proverb: A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. 

The good news is that completing the Breastfeeding Family Friendly Communities (BFFC) designation will not take a thousand miles! The journey does involve completing Ten Steps and probably will include questions about implementing them.

Here are some great questions from a BFFC team in a local community. The BFFC team had reached out to its Health Department and local government, providing information and resources about breastfeeding family friendly communities. Both entities were ready to move forward with their statements of support.

  • We will be putting together a statement for our local Health District. We would like to be able to use some of the existing language from the FAQ downloaded from the website.  Is that all right?
    • Yes, absolutely! You can use anything on the website to support your efforts in becoming a breastfeeding family friendly community.
    • It is the goal of the BFFC global team to support communities to become breastfeeding family friendly!
    • We encourage communities to review and use the information on the website and to feel free to reach out to the global BFFC initiative with questions!
  • Does our coalition become the BFFC Designating Group for our community and will recruit the BFFC Team?
    • The Designating Group can include members of your coalition; it also can include others in the community.
    • You should create a Designating Group composed of any community members that you deem appropriate.  
  • Our coalition is writing the Health District and the Mayor’s proclamation. Has that happened to others?
    • A BFFC team often finds that it writes or provides the text for the proclamation and the Health Department/District statement.
    • This is a great opportunity to provide information that addresses the actions needed to become a breastfeeding family friendly community.
  • Do we then have the authority to proclaim our community as a Breastfeeding Family Friendly Community?
    • It is important that the Mayor and City Council are in agreement with the proclamation, because they are stating publicly that they are committed to actions that support your breastfeeding family friendly community. 
    • BFFC teams in other communities find that a proclamation can be an important first step; they used the proclamation as “authority” to support the global criteria when reaching out to the different entities (e.g., businesses, child care and education) within the community.
    • However, the next bulleted question is more on target for the purpose of the proclamation at this early stage for the local government. 
  • Or are we committing to become a BFFC by working towards the Ten Steps? We will not complete all the measures on the self-assessment immediately. We were thinking that some sort of statement indicating that we are working toward all of these measures within the formal Health Department/District statement and Mayoral proclamation would be appropriate? 
    • Yes, in your proclamation you are making a commitment to become a BFFC, and your proclamation includes actions to meet the remaining nine steps.  Your local government is proclaiming that it is breastfeeding friendly and is ready to support the actions towards becoming designated as a breastfeeding family friendly community.   
    • However, you will need to complete all Ten Steps in order to be “designated” a Breastfeeding Family Friendly Community. To be designated, the community must be able to honestly respond in the positive to all the measures under each of the Ten Steps for a Breastfeeding Family Friendly Community and allow each to be verified by your local Designating Group. When all steps have been achieved, the local Designating Group reaches out to the BFFC Global Team for review.  Then the local Designating Group and/or BFFC Global can notify your local, national, and/or international breastfeeding coalitions (e.g., your State’s Breastfeeding Coalition, USBC), as well as the media in your community.  It will be a day for well-deserved celebrations!
    • Finally, your Designating Group should self-assess using the Global Criteria annually for 3 years, then every 3 years thereafter.   

We look forward to sharing more Q&As to guide you on your community’s journey toward Breastfeeding Family Friendly Communities designation.  Feel free to reach out with your questions to contact@breastfeedingcommunities.org