Profiles of Innovative State Programs: Connecticut - Child Daycare SAFER Program

The Connecticut Department of Public Health (CT DPH) addresses a range of indoor environmental quality issues in schools, residences, offices, and other settings. The Department recently developed a new initiative to reduce chemical exposures in daycare settings. The Child Daycare Screening Assessment For Environmental Risk Program (SAFER) pairs CT DPH daycare licensing inspectors with epidemiologists and toxicologists to identify and address contamination at or near child daycare centers and group daycare homes. The SAFER Program also educates daycare providers about other environmental hazards to help them create healthier environments.

Why is this Program Important?

Children and daycare staff may be exposed to harmful chemicals if the day care facility is operating on land or in buildings that are contaminated with harmful chemicals left behind by past or current industrial or agricultural uses. Additionally, potential exposures may come from neighboring businesses using hazardous chemicals. Young children are at greater risk from exposure to pollutants because their bodies are still developing, they breathe more rapidly and take in more air in proportion to their body weight, and they have greater hand-to-mouth contact. The SAFER Program helps to identify these potential exposure sources.

What Materials and Resources Have Been Developed for the Program?

The SAFER program is guided by a Protocol that establishes procedures for collecting information by: (1) comparing the Department’s list of licensed daycare centers and group daycare homes with the Department of Environmental Protection’s list of hazardous waste sites; (2) using the state’s routine daycare inspection process to look for signs of possible environmental contamination; and (3) including an appendix in new daycare license application forms with questions about how the buildings and property were used in the past. All daycare centers identified through the Protocol receive follow-up by the Department to determine if there are any environmental contamination issues and to assist in addressing those issues. The Protocol and other forms used by the program are available on the Department’s website. The Department’s website also includes educational materials for daycare providers on a variety of indoor environmental issues.

How Can You Learn More?

Visit the Connecticut Dept. of Public Health website: SAFER program or IEQ page.