Policy and Regulatory Changes
The water regulations that apply to ECE programs vary with the drinking water system (see Table 4.6) and the state and locality of the centers. Collaboration with stakeholders can help identify gaps in regulations or policies that could be addressed to help protect children. To determine if new policies or regulations are needed to help ensure safe drinking water for children, first review the current regulations and policies in place within the state for water quality at ECE programs. This section lists several resources to help navigate policy and implement good practices.
Federal policy and regulations
EPA maintains regulations and oversight of public water systems through the Safe Drinking Water Act. The National Primary Drinking Water Regulations provide state water quality standards and reporting through the Consumer Confidence Reporting system. Information on the standards is available at https://www.epa.gov/dwstandardsregulationsExternal.
State policy and regulations
The Environmental Law Institute’s 2015 booklet, Drinking Water Quality in Child Care Facilities: A Review of State Policy, describes how existing state laws and regulations across the United States address this issue in the ECE context. The document is available at http://www.eli.org/research-report/drinking-water-quality-child-care-facilities-review-state-policyExternal.
Best practices guidance
These EPA guidance booklets are also useful resources for understanding federal policy and best practices as they apply to ECE programs:
- Drinking Water Best Management Practices for Schools and Child Care Facilities Served by Municipal Water Systems, available at http://nepis.epa.gov/Exe/ZyPDF.cgi?Dockey=P100HGM8.txtExternal.
- Drinking Water Best Management Practices for Schools and Child Care Facilities with Their Own Drinking Water Source, available at http://nepis.epa.gov/Exe/ZyPDF.cgi?Dockey=P100GOT8.txtExternal.
- 3Ts for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water in Schools: Revised Technical Guidance, available at https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/3ts-tookit-materialsExternal.
Some universities and non-profit organizations have also released guidance materials and best practices on maintaining private wells and promoting water as a healthier beverage in ECE programs:
- The Private Well Class, funded by EPA, offers a free 10-lesson course on well care, and ongoing webinars on technical topics to help well owners maintain their well and comply with regulations. The document is available at http://privatewellclass.org/External.
- Several federal public health initiatives to reduce childhood obesity and increase childhood physical activity promote water as a healthier beverage for children in child care centers. More information and guidance is available at
Other policy resources
The National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education provides voluntary standards for water supply and plumbing and lists additional references in its National Health and Safety Performance Standards, Guidelines for Early Care and Education Programs, 3rd Edition, available at http://nrckids.org/CFOC/Database/22.214.171.124External.
In its policy statement titled “Drinking Water from Private Wells and Risks to Children,” the American Academy of Pediatrics gives a detailed list of “conditions or activities nearby requiring testing” (see “Flowchart for Testing Well Water” on page six of the publication). The document is available at http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/123/6/1599.full.pdfCdc-pdfExternal [PDF – 362 KB].