ATSDR’s Choose Safe Places for Early Care and Education protects the health of children where they learn and play.
Choosing safe places for early care and education (ECE) programs reduces children’s risk of being exposed to dangerous chemicals during their care. We want professionals in public health, community planning, licensing, zoning, environmental protection, early care and education, and other fields to ensure the safety of ECE locations within their communities and are committed to providing them support in doing so.
Even if ECE programs meet current state licensing regulations, the programs may be located in places where children and staff can be exposed to environmental contamination. As a result, a new ECE program might open in a chemically contaminated industrial building that was never cleaned up, or next door to a business using harmful chemicals. This can put staff and children, who are more sensitive to the effects of chemicals, at risk of health problems. When these issues are discovered after exposures have happened, children may have negative health effects and ECE programs may be forced to shut down. Preventing problems, by ensuring ECE programs are safely located, is vital to ensure the health, and economic and social well-being of families that rely on them.
ATSDR created the Choose Safe Places for Early Care and Education program to encourage thoughtful consideration about where to locate ECE programs. It gives towns, cities, and states a framework to adopt practices that will make sure ECE programs are located away from chemical hazards.
ATSDR’s Partnership to Promote Local Efforts to Reduce Environmental Exposure (APPLETREE) Program is a cooperative agreement that funds 25 state health departments to increase their capacity to advance ATSDR’s goal of keeping communities safe from harmful chemical exposures and related diseases.
Because ATSDR is committed to promoting the healthy development of children, in 2017, ATSDR expanded the scope of this cooperative agreement to include Choose Safe Places for Early Care and Education (CSPECE).
Over the next three years, each APPLETREE state will work to achieve CSPECE program goals that include: defining how locations for ECE programs are selected, developing methods to help ensure ECE programs are placed on safe sites, and implementing a pilot Choose Safe Places program. ATSDR is providing technical support and guidance to the APPLETREE states to help them start their own Choose Safe Places programs.
Some APPLETREE states already have a Choose Safe Places program. ATSDR is supporting them with resources to expand their programs, share best practices with other states, and develop ways to evaluate their success. For more information on the APPLETREE program and the states funded by it, please visit https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/states/fy_2017.html.