Please make sure you child’s daycare is lead-safe.  Anywhere they spend any amount of time (on a regular basis) should be lead-safe.  That includes community centers, grandparents houses, friends houses and more.

Unfortunately most states do not have laws requiring that daycare centers (especially in-home day care centers) are lead-safe.  There is also very little education provided to in-home day care providers about the possibility of lead poisoning coming from the childcare space in their homes.

In some states there is public funding for testing of in-home centers (especially if a child attending the center has tested positive for lead) but it has to be sought out by the provider and many providers are concerned about losing their livelihood if their environment is determined to be toxic - so they often don’t voluntarily seek out this testing.  In most cases, liability only occurs if they know about a problem and don’t disclose it - so if they officially “don’t know” about hazards they cannot be held liable for poisoning your child.

Parents need to be advocates here.  Arrange (or help arrange) to get your child’s daycare tested (before they begin attending if possible.)  Make sure the provider understands that NOT ONLY is the testing often free or subsidized, but the remedies and solutions are often free as well.  In Oregon, this means the possibility of up to $10,000 in free improvements to the home.  If the provider is renting the home they are using for a daycare the landlord is legally responsible to make sure the home is lead-safe and the landlord might also be eligible for these free programs.

Be on the look out for old painted windows (which can be a hazard and create toxic lead dust even if they do not appear to be peeling or chipping), and peeling chipping paint on window sills, doors, thresholds and baseboards.  Make sure regular handwashing is part of the routine and ASK about the soil. Do the kids dig in the soil?  Is there a garden area close to the house?  How often are the floors cleaned?  Do people take their shoes off before entering the home? Check it out yourself and look for signs of deteriorating paint.  Even if you see no peeling paint or paint chips in the soil it could still be VERY TOXIC (for example... from microscopic lead particles still present from when the home was last sanded/ prepared for painting.)  Make sure if you convince your provider to get a hazard assessment that they also get the exterior play areas tested (and any areas where the kids take their shoes on and off/ get dressed to go out and play.)

Ideally choose a home-daycare for your child that is located in a newer construction building.  At least newer than 1980 - but even that is not a full assurance that the home is lead-safe.

I began thinking about this when A.J. (now 6 years old) was going to an in-home daycare (Waldorf based) and his BLL went up even though we knew we had a lead-safe home environment.  At first glance the place seemed lovely and then, once his BLL went up I noticed the peeling lead paint on the window sill and the peeling paint on the door and threshold and under the eves all around the house.  Even though the home was wrapped in aluminum siding  and the interior space seemed safe and recently renovated, there was still open peeling lead paint all around the house and the children frequently played in the garden and dug in the soils for other exploratory projects.

As always if you have questions or you think I should add more info here, please contact me directly.  Thank you - Tamara


© 2009. Tamara Rubin,  All Rights Reserved