142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

Children's Environmental Exposures in Early Care & Learning: Preventing Harm Through Emerging Initiatives and Best Practices

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Nsedu Obot Witherspoon, MPH , Children's Environmental Health Network (CEHN), Washington, DC
The environments in which children spend time have a vital impact on their health, development, and ability to learn.  Providing environmentally-healthy, low-toxic settings is particularly important in the places children spend the majority of their time.  Understanding the impact of exposure to chemicals of concern on children’s health and development, and preventing such exposures, should be integral to professionals and institutions of early care and education (ECE).

How well is ECE integrating the emerging scientific findings on pediatric environmental health into existing policies and practices?  Early care and learning institutions  -- such as state child care licensing standards, state quality improvement systems, and child care resource and referral agency professional development offerings -- may briefly address one or two discrete environmental issues such as lead or radon.  Environmental health is rarely addressed comprehensively.

Several forward-looking initiatives, pilots and best practices in policy and practice are illustrating how to integrate environmental health.  One state has comprehensively incorporated environmental health into its quality improvement system and is offering mini-grants to providers to address identified environmental health hazards. Professional development on environmental health and best practices for child care trainers, licensing staff and consultants, has been shown to be effective. A national science-based endorsement program recognizes child care providers who adopt best practices; more than 2,100 providers have been endorsed. 

The field is poised to recognize this vital facet of child health and development.

This presentation will provide an overview of current environmental health programs, activities and practices in early care and learning.

Learning Areas:

Environmental health sciences
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs

Learning Objectives:
Identify opportunities to address environmental health in the child care field, and initiatives that are supporting child care providers who adopt best practices. Explain how at least one state has comprehensively incorporated environmental health into its quality improvement system and is offering mini-grants to child care providers to address identified environmental health hazards. Describe the project that is establishing a baseline for environmental health child care policy strategies – from raising minimum regulatory standards addressing pesticides and other pollutants to institutionalizing best practices through agency programs that provide training, recognition, and other incentives for going beyond regulatory requirements.

Keyword(s): Chemical Exposures & Prevention, Child Health Promotion

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have 16 years of program development, implementation, and evaluation experience. I have served on the Children's Health Protection Advisory Council for the EPA, the Institute of Medicine’s Environmental Science Roundtable, and the NIEHS Council. I was a APHA Board Member and Chair of the APHA Environment Section. Since 2004, I have been integral in successful development and national expansion of programs that support child care providers in reducing children's exposure to environmental health hazards.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.