Baltimore County Now
Linda S. Grossman, M.D., Chief, Bureau of Clinical Services
Baltimore County Department of Health
Physical activity is important to your child’s health year-round, but staying active during the winter can be challenging. While outdoor activities are good for kids, sometimes it is just too cold, windy and wet to be outside for long.
There are lots of ways to keep your children active indoors. Keep in mind your child and his or her interests:
· Turn on the music and dance! Let your child pick the music, make up moves and have a dance party.
· Make an indoor obstacle course. In a basement or activity room, make tunnels to climb through by draping blankets on chairs or a table, use pillows, cushions, and stools for things to climb over, and include stations for activities like jumping rope, jumping jacks or hula hooping. When they have mastered the course, time them to see if they can do it faster.
· Develop a game or a competition. Throw rolled up socks at a target on the wall or on a door or into an indoor basketball hoop for points or have a competition about who can do the most jumping jacks.
· Get an active board game or play a videogame which involves physical activity. Twister is clearly active, but even games that require some movement like Guesstures or Footloose can help burn some energy.
· Consider a gym or indoor pool membership for the winter if the facility is child friendly.
· Visit community resources – walking around a museum or visiting a science center or the B&O Railroad Museum provides some activity and a change of scenery.
· Visit a mall and play a variant on “I Spy” – who can spot ten blue things first or find a red flower in a window.
· Find an indoor playground or go roller skating. If a fee is required, it may be worth it for an active outing on a cold, wet weekend day.
Also, check out our recent blog about outdoor play ideas.
For more ideas on keeping your children active this winter, visit kidshealth.org.
Suzy Beegle, Job Network Administrator
Baltimore County Department of Health and Human Services
Would you like to get money back from the government this tax season? You may, even if you aren’t required to file for or pay taxes. The Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) is a federal program for low to moderate income working individuals—particularly those with children. It is a great benefit that, on average, paid about $2,300 for Marylanders who filed federal income taxes and qualified* for this program.
The amount of EITC you receive depends on your income and the number of children you have. You may be eligible for EITC,
1) If you earn less than $52,427 and you have a:
? Son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, half brother, half sister, grandchild, niece, nephew or adopted child living with you
2) If you earn less than $20,020 and you:
? Have no children living with you or have no child living with you who meets EITC rules
? Are at least age 25 and under age 65
To qualify for EITC you must have earned income from employment, self-employment or another source and meet certain rules. You must either meet the rules for workers without a qualifying child or have a child that meets all the qualifying child rules for you. Additionally, even if you do not owe taxes or are not required to file taxes, you must file a federal return in order to qualify for EITC.
If you qualify for the federal EITC, you also qualify for the Maryland Earned Income Credit when you file your Maryland tax return. That puts even more money back in your pocket!
You can even file for previous years including 2011, 2012 and 2013. However, you must file taxes in order to be eligible. You can file for free online and there are a number of resources available.
Additionally, if your household earns $50,000 a year or less, you may want to use a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site. VITA provides free income tax return preparation to those families who make less than $50,000 a year. VITA tax preparers are certified using IRS training materials and serve in a volunteer capacity.
Tax Filing Resources:
· Maryland Cash Campaign or call 1-800-492-0618
This tax season- give yourself a break. Look into the resources above and see if you’re eligible to receive EITC for this tax year or a prior one. After all, what have you got to lose?
*statistics from the IRS, 2013- most recent year available.
Cindy Kaiser, Administrator Dental Services
Baltimore County Department of Health
February is National Children’s Dental Health Month and the perfect time to remind parents and caregivers that it’s never too soon to start your child on their way to healthy teeth and gums. Not only can poor oral health cause mouth pain, your child’s baby teeth play an important role until their adult teeth emerge.
Did you know you can start caring for your infant’s mouth as soon as he or she is born? Following each feeding, gently wipe his or her gums with a clean, damp washcloth. Once a month, lift your baby’s lip to check out his or her gums. If you see brown or white spots along their gum line, it could be a sign of tooth decay and you should contact your baby’s dentist or health care provider.
Below are some additional tips for infants, toddlers, youths and their parents.
Tips for Infant Caregivers:
· Don’t share. Sharing spoons, cups, toothbrushes and utensils among family members spreads germs that cause cavities.
· Wash it. Parents should wash pacifiers with warm soap and water - not your mouth!
Tips for Toddlers:
· Get a dentist. Take your child to the dentist by his or her first birthday.
· Brush. Between one to two years of age, begin brushing with a soft child’s toothbrush two times a day for two minutes each.
· Less is best. Use fluoride toothpaste. Under age two, a smear is best; between two to six years, a pea-size drop will suffice.
· Floss. As soon as two teeth come in next to one another, start flossing.
· Eat and drink right. Prevent tooth decay by avoiding sugary snacks and drinks. Provide your children with fruits, vegetables and plenty of water to drink.
· Twice is nice. Children and adults should visit a dentist twice a year.
If you haven’t already scheduled your child’s next dental appointment, be sure and do so now. Get your child off to a shining smile.