Choose Safe Places for Early Care and Education (CSPECE) guidance manual
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    In the United States, about 8.3 million children younger than five years are cared for in licensed

    child care facilities. Children may spend 10 hours per day, five days per week in care settings outside their homes. Children may also be enrolled in other programs, such as Head Start. The term “early care and education” (ECE) applies to all of the places where young children may be cared for outside of their homes.

    Determining the number of children at risk for harmful environmental exposures across the United States is challenging. Limited data are available to estimate how many ECE programs and children in those programs might be at risk for exposures. Using data from one state and extrapolating it to the rest of the country is one way to try to calculate and estimate, even if it has limitations. Using this strategy, ATSDR estimates that 1.35 million children are in programs that warrant additional evaluation to ensure the site is safe, and about 174,000 children might currently be exposed to harmful contaminants.

    When an ECE program is improperly located, consequences can result. Most importantly, children and ECE staff can be exposed to harmful levels of hazardous contamination. Also, the mere presence of contaminants at an ECE program can cause stress and fear among staff and parents, even if exposures are not significant. It can also lead to financial and legal consequences for the ECE program.

    ATSDR has worked on sites across the country where ECE programs have been in locations that were not safe.To help protect children from health risks caused by locating ECE programs on or near places where chemical or radiological hazards are present, ATSDR created the Choose Safe Places for Early Care and Education (CSPECE) Guidance Manual. This manual offers tools and resources to help state and local public health agencies and other partners build programs to protect children in their communities.


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