Eleven Indiana child care facilities have boosted their efforts to protect children from environmental threats.
As members of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management's (IDEM's) Five Star Environmental Recognition Program for Child Care Providers, these providers excel in their efforts to offer environmental conditions in their facilities that exceed minimum requirements.
New members include:
. Area IV Head Start, Frankfort, Clinton County, three stars
. Tender Moments Playhouse, Terre Haute, Vigo County, five stars
. Seedlings Learning Center, Dyer, Lake County, one star
. In His Arms, Indianapolis, Marion County, five stars
Members renewing their level of stars include:
. Bethany Little Disciples Day Care Ministry, Evansville, Vanderburgh County, five stars
. Early Childhood Development Center, Inc., Saint Mary's, St. Joseph County, three stars
. Early Childhood Development Center, Inc., Notre Dame, St. Joseph County, three stars
. First English Lutheran Nursery School, Mishawaka, St. Joseph County, five stars
. North Webster Day Care, Webster, Kosciusko County, five stars
. Sugar & Spice, Indianapolis, Marion County, five stars
Members increasing their efforts to earn additional stars include:
. Purpose of Life Academy, Indianapolis, Marion County, increased from three to five stars
"Children under the age of six are our most vulnerable population," said IDEM Commissioner Thomas Easterly. "Participants in IDEM's Five Star program deserve recognition for exceeding expectations to minimize children's exposure to harmful contaminants. Any family considering their child care options should definitely consider these facilities first."
To participate in the program, child care facilities conduct assessments and implement environmental plans. Facilities earn stars for steps they take to minimize children's exposure to pests, second-hand smoke, asbestos, lead, hazardous chemicals, vehicle exhaust and allergens. At no cost to the provider, IDEM assists them in implementing their environmental plans and conducts site visits to determine the level of stars attained before granting membership.
Tender Moments Playhouse in Terre Haute maintains membership in the Five Star program at the highest level of stars by checking regularly for lead and radon hazards, installing carbon monoxide alarms, removing asthma triggers, like air fresheners and pesticides, and encouraging anti-idling in its drop-off locations. The facility also implemented environmental stewardship projects, like recycling and energy efficiency.
"By recycling paper, the children are able to participate and have learned that reusing and reducing are all a part of protecting the Earth," said Tender Moments Playhouse owner Carrie Molinder. "We've even tested for lead and radon to be sure we're providing the safest and healthiest place for kids to learn and grow."
Amber Warfield, assistant director, In His Arms Child Care Ministry, said, "We're happy to be the first in this part of Indianapolis to be recognized in this program. We've started recycling, stopped using air fresheners, and provided more information to parents about invisible hazards in their own homes that can impact their child's development."
Invisible hazards include environmental health threats like lead dust, radon gas, and pesticides, to which homeowners may unknowingly expose their children.
There are currently over 80 child care providers participating in the Five Star program making their facilities safer for 4,000 Hoosier children. Additional information about the IDEM Five Star Child Care program can be obtained by calling Karen Teliha, Community Environmental Health & Education coordinator, at (800) 988-7901 or by visiting www.idem.IN.gov/4180.htm.
Established in 1986, IDEM (www.idem.IN.gov) implements federal and state regulations regarding the environment. Through compliance assistance, incentive programs and educational outreach, the agency encourages and aids businesses and citizens in protecting Hoosiers and our environment. As the agency celebrates its 25th anniversary, IDEM is highlighting environmental accomplishments and important challenges that lie ahead.
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