Did you know that there are approximately 12.5 million children in some sort of regular child care arrangement? Yet there are communities across the country where the supply of child care doesn’t meet the need for child care. Child Care Aware® of America helped states quantify families’ child care needs through our Mapping the Gap™ project, and learned a lot about child care gaps across the US:
In 2017, Early Learning Indiana (ELI), with the support of the Lilly Endowment, launched the Family Engagement Prize Competition. Recently completing their second year, this statewide prize competition highlights family engagement innovation and excellence in early care and education (ECE) programs. The Prize Competition celebrates the exemplary actions of ECE professionals to empower families’ in their role as their children’s first teachers! Over the past two years programs have been recognized for practices like, offering parenting classes, job placement, housing, and food and fuel assistance, as well as parent-child engagement materials to use at home.
Most child care providers have an on-site parking lot or driveway. This is a huge benefit for families and staff, making drop-off and pick-up a lot easier. But that benefit comes with some potentially big costs. Parking lots and driveways can present some serious risks to children’s health.
When the Flint, MI water crisis hit the news in 2015, people around the world took notice. Hundreds of children across Flint had alarmingly high blood lead levels. Many still do. The problem was quickly traced back to lead contamination in the city’s water supply. The water that Flint’s families and caregivers used to cook, drink and bathe in was poisoning their children.
The Flint crisis highlights a problem that impacts millions of children in the United States. Children’s blood lead levels in places like Milwaukee, Baltimore and Philadelphia are actually much higher than in Flint. The poisoning happens because of lead in water, but also because of lead dust in buildings. And the children most in danger are children from families with low incomes and children of color.
When we think about health and safety in child care, it’s often related to hazards we can see. For instance, are providers and children washing their hands properly? Have cleaners and medications been locked away? Are smoke and carbon monoxide detectors present and functional? These are things that can affect children’s wellbeing right now.
At Child Care Aware® of America (CCAoA), we’ve been thinking about health and safety in a new way. To create safe and healthy child care programs, we need to consider both hazards we can see and those we cannot. That means thinking about children’s health and wellness right now and in the future.
Keeping child care facilities clean and free of pests is one of the most important things we can do to prevent diseases from spreading. The challenge is that chemicals that providers use for cleaning and pest control are often toxic. And while that might be common knowledge for some, not everyone knows about the risks some cleaners can cause. Also, many of the cleaners that are more toxic are inexpensive, making them fast and easy choices for businesses and low-income families.
The Child Care and Development Block Grant has requirements around handing and storing hazardous materials. If providers are using ammonia to clean or rat poison to keep pests away, they need to make sure those chemicals are locked away and out of reach.