Choose Safe Places for Early Care and Education

Child Care Safe Siting and Operation - Protecting the health of children where they learn and play
free drinking water testing

The places where children learn and are cared for should protect them from exposures that can harm their health. Poor child care siting decisions can result in children being exposed to indoor and outdoor chemical contaminants from various sources. Past manufacturing, industrial or agricultural uses can sometimes leave hazardous chemicals behind in buildings or on the land. Children could be exposed to chemical contaminants in the soil while playing. An assessment of the past use of the property could prevent this type of exposure. In addition, if businesses using chemicals (such as a dry cleaner, nail salon, auto body shop) are within the same building complex as a child day care, the indoor environment of the day care may be impacted by the chemicals. There have been locations in Tennessee where Early Care and Education centers were opened in areas where harmful chemical chemicals could have adversely impacted the indoor environment of the center. The goal of Safe Siting for Early Care and Education is to proactively identify new and existing facilities that could be impacted by hazardous chemicals.

The Tennessee Department of Health is committed to protecting children where they live, learn, and play. When the child care environment is unhealthy, children can be exposed to allergens, pollutants, chemicals and play room conditions that might cause their health to suffer. Children are often more heavily exposed to toxic substances in the environment than adults because they spend more time on the ground and engage in more hand-to-mouth behavior. Children also breathe more air, drink more water, and eat more food per pound of body weight than adults. A child’s respiratory, immune, nervous, reproductive and skeletal systems continue to develop throughout childhood. Exposures to environmental contaminants that occur early in life can cause adverse health impacts in children that can have implications well into adulthood. Furthermore, children with disabilities face unique challenges that might make them particularly vulnerable to the effects of an unhealthy child care environment.  

Choose Safe Places for Early Care and Education poster artwork