News From Terre Haute, Indiana

May 31, 2011

Indiana child care facilities improve environmental safety


Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Eleven Indiana child care facilities have boosted their efforts to protect children from environmental threats. Among them is Tender Moments Playhouse, a facility in Terre Haute that received five stars.

As members of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management’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.

“Children under the age of 6 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.”

Invisible hazards include environmental health threats like lead dust, radon gas, and pesticides, to which homeowners may unknowingly expose their children.

There are currently more than 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 1-800-988-7901 or by visiting www.idem.IN.gov/4180.htm.