Preschool Environment Children's Environmental Health Network
In 2006, the Children’s Environmental Health Network started a program, using Alameda and Contra Costa counties in California as the pilot, to train and educate childcare providers and administrators on creating a healthier and safer environment. The program entitled “Healthy Environments for Child Care Facilities and Preschools” teaches childcare providers and administrators to:
- 1. Understand how vulnerable the child is to environmental health exposures
- 2. Identify a variety of environmental health hazards in the facility, surrounding grounds and community
- 3. Learn how to remove the environmental health hazards
- 4. Utilize communications strategies which will help parents to eliminate environmental hazards at home
- 5. Obtain accurate scientific data, which can be applied readily by facilities to remove hazardous substances and situations
The California Childcare Education Project did the above and also provided a Childcare Inspection Checklist for easy use by providers and administrators. This list helped identify gaps in knowledge.
The Children’s Environmental Health Network provided a series of fact sheets, on significant topics, for use by the attendees of the California program including:
- 1. Chemicals in art supplies
- 2. Safe cleaning alternatives
- 3. Pesticides and integrated pest management
- 4. Lead poisoning
- 5. Air pollution from nearby traffic
- 6. Air quality
- 7. Indoor mold
In addition to discussion on these topics, the instructors added material on sun exposure, mercury, arsenic in playgrounds, and other current topics.
Because of the success of the California program, the state of Georgia initiated a similar program for childcare resource and referral agencies, head start programs, and preschools. The education modules were prereviewed and the training curriculum was approved by the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning. Training began in 2008. The topics taught were expanded from those in California. The topics included: air quality, diesel motor vehicles, radon gas, the built environment, indoor mold, asbestos, mercury reduction, arsenic, physical education and nutrition, noise pollution, chemicals in art supplies, safe cleaning alternatives, and pesticides and integrated pesticide management.
In the Fall of 2007, the Children’s Environmental Health Network expanded this program to 20 childcare facilities in Washington, DC. In 2008, an additional 20 childcare facilities were taught the substance of the program. Subsequent to the program, 95% of the trainees were able to recognize environmental hazards and do what was necessary to remove them. Training programs have been coordinated and funded by the CDC.