Program Development Checklist

Use this checklist to develop your Choose Safe Places program — and help make sure that early care and education (ECE) centers in your state are safe from environmental hazards.

Section 1. Learn about existing guidance

Review important guidance — from governmental and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) — that relates to environmental health concerns and ECE programs.

Choose Safe Places for Early Care and Education Guidance Manual

(Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry)

Choose Safe Places for Early Care and Education Guidance Manual

The definitive resource on establishing a Choose Safe Places program and the cornerstone of ATSDR’s initiative

Caring for Our Children Basics: Health and Safety Foundations for Early Care and Education

(Administration for Children and Families)

Caring for Our Children Basics: Health and Safety Foundations for Early Care and Education Cdc-pdfCdc-pdf[PDF – 934 KB]ExternalExternal

Guidelines that outline the minimum health and safety standards that need to be in place anywhere children are cared for outside their home

Reducing Environmental Exposures in Child Care Facilities: A Review of State Policy

(Environmental Law Institute)

Reducing Environmental Exposures in Child Care Facilities: A Review of State Policy Cdc-pdfCdc-pdf[PDF – 4.1 MB]ExternalExternal

An overview of how various states have developed their child care licensing requirements

  • Review Chapter 11, which covers state policies about selecting and choosing sites and facilities for child care programs

Section 2. See how other states have done it

A few states have already established programs to protect ECE centers from environmental hazards. Find out more about them and review some of their materials, which you can adapt for your program.

Section 3. Look into related programs and agencies in your state

Learn about existing laws that relate to Choose Safe Places concerns — and see how your program might overlap with the work that other agencies and NGOs are already doing.

Work with the state agency tasked with the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF)
Offer help to the agency that develops your state’s comprehensive child care plan
  • See if the agency might consider including environmental health concerns in the next version of the plan
Look into adding Choose Safe Places concerns to your state’s Quality Rating Improvement System (QRIS)
Work with Head Start grantees
Find out which state and local agencies get funding from CDC or USDA Early Care and Education programs
Research national accreditation associations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs)

Section 4. Work with partners and stakeholders

For an effective Choose Safe Places program, you’ll need cooperation from other agencies and stakeholders.

Contact local agencies to better understand their roles and discuss concerns
  • ECE inspectors
  • ECE licensing boards
  • ECE owners and operators
  • Planning and zoning officials (local, territorial, and tribal)
  • Health department officials (local, territorial, and tribal)
  • Environmental protection officials (local, territorial, and tribal)
  • Other stakeholders you’ve identified as part of your state’s Choose Safe Places program
Start a conversation with contacts in other state and local agencies
  • Questions for ECE licensing agency staff

    • Is the licensing program based at the state, county, or local level?
    • How often are ECE programs inspected? By whom?
    • Would relicensing offer a good opportunity to begin implementing new standards?
    • How many ECE programs are licensed?
    • Are there any third party certifications for ECE programs?
    • Are there different categories of licensed ECE programs, such as family daycare, home daycare, child care facility, early learning centers, and child care centers?
  • Questions for zoning departments

    • Does an ECE program need local zoning approval?
    • What does a local zoning review process involve?
    • If/when an ECE program needs to come before a planning board for approval, what is required? What considerations are discussed?
  • Questions for officials who might know about waste sites or local contamination

    • Does any agency maintain lists of ECE programs, hazardous waste sites, and other locations or facilities using harmful chemicals to see if they are located near each other? Are the locations geocoded?
    • Do facilities using hazardous chemicals (e.g. nail salons, dry cleaners, auto body shops) get inspected? How often?
    • How is a hazardous waste site identified, assessed and remediated?
    • Do policies or regulations exist to address proximity to potential environmental hazards when siting ECE programs? How is the policy or regulation administered? How is compliance demonstrated?
    • Has any agency created maps that show locations at risk for elevated levels of naturally-occurring contamination such as radon, arsenic, and asbestos?
Use ATSDR’s Choose Safe Places for Early Care and Education tools to educate agencies and potential partners

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Page last reviewed: October 30, 2018