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What do you get when you ask child care providers, government officials, doctors and parents to come up with an idea on how to recognize exemplary, environmentally-safe child care facilities? In Indiana, you get teamwork and Indiana's 5-Star Environmental Recognition Program for Child Care Facilities!
IDEM awards stars to child care facilities that exceed state requirements for environmental health and safety. Each star builds on the previous star's accomplishments. For example, a child care facility must meet the one-star and three-star requirements in order to apply for five stars. Star ratings remain in effect for two years. Participants must re-apply to keep their status.
Application submittal due dates are April 1, August 1 and December 1. Applications are evaluated three times per year.
Participating child care facilities must:
Here are just some of the benefits you get for taking steps to protect children:
IDEM staff are available to assist you in completing the application. They can visit your facility and help you through the process at no charge. To request on-site or phone assistance, call (800) 988-7901.
At first glance, the application process may seem complicated, but don't give up! The best way to start is by reading through the application (now available on the IDEM Forms page), deciding how many stars you'd like to apply for, and completing the self assessment booklet [PDF]. Once you've checked off the items that are already completed, please call IDEM at (800) 988-7901. We will help you determine if you need a lead risk assessment and will be able to provide it for free. We'll also help you determine the next steps toward submitting the application.
Asbestos is a mineral fiber commonly used in a variety of building construction materials for insulation and as a fire-retardant. Sources of friable asbestos include deteriorating, damaged, or disturbed insulation, fireproofing, acoustical materials, and floor tiles. These materials can be dangerous when disturbed through cutting, sanding or other remodeling activities. Improper attempts to remove these materials can release asbestos fibers into the air. Although asbestos can no longer be used in materials manufactured in the United States, building materials manufactured outside the U.S. may still contain asbestos. In fact, Canada continues to mine asbestos. Be sure to check labels on floor and ceiling tiles and other building materials before purchasing them for your child care facility to ensure they are asbestos free. If you are renovating your facility, state law requires that the facility must be inspected by an Indiana licensed asbestos building inspector prior to the commencement of demolition or renovation activities. A highly trained licensed asbestos inspector is the only person who can conclude a material does not contain asbestos. For additional information on regulatory requirements when you renovate your facility, please refer to the Demolition and Renovation at Child Care Facilities webpage.
Asthma action plans are completed by doctors and provided to the child care provider. Please review these plans with parents and be sure the child's teacher understands what triggers their asthma and what action steps to take. The teacher may also need training on the medications the child will take.
The FSSA Health Consultants will provide free asthma training to child care providers at your facility. In turn, facilities receive posters, cleaning bottles, and other educational information. To request free asthma training, contact your health consultant.
Bloodborne pathogen plans help protect employees from exposure to bloodborne pathogens and can help control your costs by reducing exposures to bloodborne pathogens. Many child care providers are required by law to have a written plan. Members of the 5-Star Program with employees must have a written plan. Universal precautions training is a portion of any bloodborne pathogen plan. A sample bloodborne pathogen plan for child care providers is available.
At the 3 star level, inform and encourage parents to have their children's blood lead levels tested by their pediatrician or by the local health department. At the 5-star level, contact your local health department and ask about options for providing on-site testing of all children at your facility or ask parents to provide documentation that children have been tested.
Written emergency action plans provide instruction on how to respond during various types of emergencies including fire, tornado, flooding, bomb threats, chemical spills, and more. All members of the 5-Star Program must have a written emergency action plan. Several sample plans are available:
Earning the Energy Star means a product meets strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy.
For 3 or 5 stars, you must incorporate environmental awareness into the curriculum. For ideas, check out the following sites:
This information is available from IDEM and includes posters, magnets, and information on idling, lead, mercury, radon, and other hazards. If you send an application (now available on the IDEM Forms page), you will receive this information automatically.
The self-assessment allows you to walk through your facility and rank areas where hazards may be present. It is mandatory for all applicants to complete the assessment.
When poured down the drain, fats, oils, and greases (FOG) collect in sewer pipes and cause problems at your local waste water treatment plant. FOG should be poured into a container, allowed to harden, and then thrown in the trash.
If your facility has fluorescent light bulbs, recycling is encouraged at 1 and 3 stars and required for 5 stars. Most counties offer free recycling through your solid waste management district. Free downloadable fluorescent bulb recycling signs are available.
The Worker's Right-to-Know Law requires employers identify and communicate hazards in the workplace to all employees. This law applies to any business that uses hazardous chemicals regardless of the number of individuals employed. To comply with this law, you must:
Remove all air fresheners and room deodorizers, candles, potpourri, etc.
The standards listed at the 1-Star level for school bus idling follow the School Transportation Association of Indiana policy [PDF] for bus idling during warm up. Information is available from the Indiana State Department of Health to educate parents about the dangers of idling. Contact IDEM at (800) 988-7901 regarding free "No Idling" signage for your facility.
Templates for a parent newsletter article and emails [DOC] are available.
IDEM will provide a lead risk assessment at no cost. A lead risk assessment determines where lead hazards exists. Please contact IDEM at 800-988-7901 to schedule a time for an assessment of your building. If your facility was built before 1978 and you are planning a renovation that will disturb paint or if you are planning to replace windows, federal requirements exist that you must follow. Additional information on these lead requirements is available online.
Lead dust can come from many sources: windowsills, door jambs, floor boards, dirt, and more. If your facility was built prior to 1978, assume lead dust exists. To reduce lead dust, clean floors, window frames, window sills, and other surfaces with wet paper towels weekly. Use a mop or sponge with warm water and a general all-purpose cleaner or a cleaner made specifically for lead. Thoroughly rinse sponges and mop heads after cleaning dirty or dusty areas.
On days where outdoor air quality is poor and can make breathing difficult for children, especially those with asthma, outdoor activities should be limited. When possible, move outdoor play times to early morning or play indoors instead. At the 3 or 5 star level, sign up to receive automatic "Local Air Quality Action Days" e-mail updates.
The use of mercury containing thermometers is discouraged. Please place mercury thermometers in a sealable glass container and take it to your local solid waste management district for proper disposal.
Many thermostats contain mercury. If you replace your existing thermostat, be sure to purchase a digital thermostat. It is recommended that a professional heating and cooling contractor remove mercury thermostats to reduce chances of breaking the mercury containing capsule within the thermostat.
If you have a mercury containing thermostat at your facility and you apply for 3 or 5 stars, IDEM will provide you with a mini mercury spill kit for your facility. You will also need to place a "Contains Mercury" Sticker on the thermostat as a reminder to recycle it rather than throw it away. Stickers and spill kits are available at no cost by contacting IDEM at (800) 988-7901.
At the 1-star level, facilities must follow the Indiana Pest Control Policy for Child Care Facilities available from the Indiana Pesticide Review Board. Please adopt this policy and share it with your pesticide application contractor. Ensure the contractor follows this policy. In addition, facilities are not permitted to store pesticides at the facility.
At the 3-star level, you must implement integrated pest management (IPM) techniques. IPM involves eliminating potential food, water and living space for pests, and sealing up their entry routes into buildings and using pesticides only when a confirmed pest problem is present.
For the 5-star level, facilities must adopt a written IPM policy or guidelines that state how pests will be managed in the building and on the grounds. In addition, if the facility uses a pest contractor, they must ensure the contractor is using IPM through a written contract. Facilities are responsible for checking statements and reports from the contractor to ensure no pesticides were applied unless the facility authorized it and it meets the IPM policy requirements.
If you have pets with fur or feathers at your facility and are applying for 3 stars, you will need to send a notice to parents indicating that a pet is present and that fur/feathers can be a trigger for allergic reactions or asthma attacks. They should check with their family physician to be sure their child can be around pets. For a sample pet notice, check the web or contact IDEM. Pets with fur or feathers must be removed from rooms where children with asthma or allergies triggered by pets are present. To achieve 5-stars, no pets with fur or feathers may be present. A sample pet policy is available.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency maintains a database of products made from recycled materials. Consider referring to this database for a list of suppliers of various materials including playground equipment, office furniture, paper products, carpeting, and rest room dividers. There are many opportunities to support recycling by closing the loop and purchasing recycled content products.
If you are not currently recycling, contact your local solid waste management district to find out how they can help you begin.
Radon test kits can be ordered for free from the American Lung Association of Indiana at (317) 819-1181. Radon test kits are also available at many local hardware stores. If you are renewing your stars, you will need to retest the facility to ensure the level did not increase. It may take several weeks to receive results from the lab. Be sure to leave enough time to obtain these results prior to the 5-Star application deadline.
Note: Include a copy of the radon results with the application.
Automatic e-mail notification from the Consumer Product Safety Commission is available for infant and child products (registration required).
Recycling can be a fun hands-on activity for children and a great way to get involved in helping your facility. If you are not currently recycling, contact your local solid waste management district to find out how they can help you begin.
At the 1 Star level, facilities are required to use two sides of paper. Free downloadable posters to remind staff to "double-side when printing" are available.
At the 3 Star level, facilities must recycle (such as through curbside pickup or drop off locations).