Protecting Kids’ Health and the Great Lakes


Clean and Healthy New York and Child Care Council, Inc. recently announced a new partnership to educate child care providers in the Great Lakes basin about common toxic chemicals and how to choose safer products. Clean and Healthy New York received a two-year Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant for “Toxics Reduction through Day Care Provider Engagement” from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


Using the framework of the award-winning Eco-Healthy Child Care® program run by the national Children’s Environmental Health Network, the two organizations will reach out to all the child care providers in New York state’s Great Lakes basin, offering trainings and on-site technical assistance. The program goals are protecting children’s health by making their daily environment safer, while reducing use of chemicals prioritized by U.S. EPA through the agency’s Chemical Action Plans. 

“Toxic chemicals, sadly, are nearly everywhere, including the child care setting,” said Katie Kelly, Program Coordinator for Clean and Healthy New York. “The good news is they don’t have to be, but avoiding them can be a challenge. This project is designed to protect children today in the child care setting while improving their environment for years to come by keeping toxic chemicals out of the Great Lakes basin.”


“Our agency is dedicated to creating the safest and healthiest environment for children,” said Barbara-Ann Mattle, CEO, Child Care Council, based in Rochester, N.Y. “We are pleased to be partnering with Clean and Healthy New York on this effort to help child care providers make their facilities safer for the children they care for.”

"Children are uniquely vulnerable to the potential risks associated with exposure to chemicals," said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. "Reducing the use of toxic chemicals in child care facilities is vitally important. This initiative will help child care centers identify less toxic and nontoxic products and thereby help protect children's health."    


Child care providers can become endorsed by the Eco-Healthy Child Care® program to let parents know they have taken action to ensure the healthiest facility possible.


“As a child care provider for 30 years, I have spent most of my life taking care of children and trying to create a happy and safe environment for them in my home,” said Betty Bentley of Greece, N.Y. “I don’t always have the time to investigate all the children’s products and toys they use. I am really excited to be a part of the Eco-Healthy Child Care program to learn more about keeping the children I care for safe.”


Chemicals covered by EPA Chemical Action Plans include better-known chemicals like bisphenol A (BPA), the flame retardants PBDEs, mercury, and phthalates as well as lesser-known chemicals, including the flame retardant HBCD (found in insulation), benzidine dyes (found in cloth), and NPEs (nonylphenol ethoxylates, found in cleaning products and paints).


“The Children's Environmental Health Network is thrilled at this initiative. Our practical, science-based program meshes perfectly with the project’s goal of supporting child care providers in making simple choices to improve the health and well-being of all children in their care," said Eco-Healthy Child Care® National Director Hester Paul. “We look forward to an exciting and productive partnership.”


Child care providers interested in learning more about Eco-Healthy Child Care®, and the trainings that will be offered, are encouraged to contact either Kate McArdle at Child Care Council or Katie Kelly at Clean and Healthy New York.

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