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Section 2: See how other states have done it

A few states — Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York — have already established programs that help ensure that early care and education (ECE) programs are safely located to prevent environmental exposures. Find out more about them and review some of their materials, which you can adapt for your program.

Tip: For more comprehensive coverage of this material, see chapters 5 and 6 of the Choose Safe Places for Early Care and Education Guidance Manual.

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Learn about state programs


  • Connecticut’s Child Day Care SAFER (Screening Assessment For Environmental Risk) Program focuses on child care centers and group child care homes rather than family child care (because residential homes are less likely to have had industrial uses)
  • Connecticut adopted a non-regulatory model because state employees believed it was faster, less expensive, and more likely to get support from childcare providers
  • The SAFER Program does not add measurably to licensor workload because the program is built around inspection activities they already perform


  • New Jersey has a regulatory model — child care center applicants must submit written certification or documentation of any necessary environmental inspections or testing
  • New Jersey’s state licensing regulations require that child care centers never be located near areas that the Office of Licensing deemed hazardous to children’s physical health and safety
  • New Jersey developed their program after the Kiddie Kollege incident in 2006, when inspectors found high levels of mercury in a child care center in Franklin — because it was in a building that was previously a thermometer factory


  • New York has a regulatory model — applicants have to submit written certification or documentation of any necessary environmental inspections or testing
  • New York’s licensing regulations require that ECE programs certify that the program’s property and surrounding environment are free of environmental hazards
  • Regulations also require inspection and testing if the past or current use of the property might pose environmental hazards
  • New York developed its program after the highly publicized Tutor Time daycare center incident in 2002, when parents learned that a child care facility abutted a Superfund site

Review sample materials

Connecticut developed this form to guide inspectors in how to look for problems such as:

  • Lands or buildings that might have residues of hazardous chemicals or had previous industrial uses
  • Businesses using hazardous chemicals that are located within the same building complex as the ECE program

In Connecticut, applicants for a childcare license fill out this form. It asks for information about:

  • Past ownership and previous use of the land and buildings intended for the child care
  • Any previous environmental site assessment reports for the property
  • Observations about the property that could indicate the presence or past use of hazardous materials

In most states, the basic well testing required by child care licensing regulations may not cover all of the harmful contaminants that could pose risks to children. To help make sure that ECE programs with wells have safe water, Connecticut developed this letter that:

  • Educates child care operators about the risks of well water
  • Urges them to test their well water for a full range of contaminants

This document from New York offers an overview of potential hazards at ECE centers. It includes:

  • Information about common sources and exposure pathways
  • A table summarizing environmental hazards by group, contaminant, and relevant agencies to contact

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