Children's Environmental Health Network, Washington, DC
The Washington, DC, Children's Environmental Health Network (CEHN), as a bona fide agent for the District of Columbia Department of Health, coordinates this collaborative project that includes the George Washington University Mid-Atlantic Center for Children’s Health and the Environment and the Washington Child Development Council. The DC Healthy Environments for Child Care and Preschools Program (HECCP) is modeled from CEHN’s California and Georgia HECCP programs.
The DC HECCP goals are to prevent and reduce adverse health effects from environmental health hazards in licensed day care centers in the District of Columbia by building a child care collaborative with emphasis on environmental education and assessment. Child care centers are enrolled into the program and a preenvironmental assessment is conducted. Centers are then provided with a Corrective Action Plan that includes recommendations for addressing areas of concern and specific resources to assist in making the desired adjustments. The director, staff, and facilities managers then participate in the HECCP training to assist in increasing their awareness and reduction or elimination of potential risks in their child care facilities. A postenvironmental assessment is conducted after 3 months to measure increased health and safety provisions taken. In this children’s environmental health initiative project, priority is placed on targeting child care centers serving lower income and minority communities disproportionately affected by indoor and outdoor environmental pollutants.
Project objectives include
- increasing the health and safety of at least 20 child care facilities per year,
- increasing the knowledge base of environmental health hazards among 50 percent of staff in each targeted child care center by the end of each training session, and
- distributing and sharing tools and best practices with 80% of child welfare stakeholders in the District and others key communities by end of program period.
- Organization and convening of the DC Healthy Environments for Child Care and Preschools (HECCP) Program Task Force for quarterly meetings.
- Finalization of the 15 educational modules that make up the curriculum and coordination of peer review.
- Receipt of continuing education units approval for curriculum through CDC.
- Environmental assessment training for three graduate student assistants.
- Individual meetings with DC task force members.
- DC Child Care Licensing Office created an official partnership with the DC HECCP.
- Research of DC environmental health resources for child care professionals.
- Two focus groups conducted to test curriculum and assessment tools.
- Presentations at local DC child care meetings and national conferences such as the National Association of Child Care and Resource Referral Agencies, Policy Summit and the Robert Wood Johnson Active living Conference (April). CEHN staff also presented at the American Public Health Association (APHA) 2007 Annual Conference. CEHN staff will be presenting on this program for the 2008 APHA Annual Conference and moderating the session titled Environmental Health in Child Care Settings and Schools.
- Finalization of the assessment and evaluation tools and coordination of peer review.
- Creation of criteria for selection of first 20 child care facilities and coordination of referrals from task force members.
- Twenty centers enrolled in year one; preassessments completed.
- Eleven trainings conducted in year one, reaching over 130 child care professionals and 54 facilities.
One graduate student assistant was hired the beginning of year 1. However, the second graduate student assistant was not confirmed until 3 months into the project and unfortunately had to leave the program this past spring. A new graduate student assistant joined the program in May and was trained to begin working with the team. This adjustment in personnel has not impacted the planned activities related to the project.
The process for having all the trainers receive approval through the DC child care licensing office took longer than expected. Applications are only reviewed after April 15 and training could not be held until the review was complete. Four trainer applications were submitted this spring and all trainers have been certified to date.
We recognize that the educational materials in this program are currently only available in English. However, CEHN’s HECCP has recently expanded to Texas and that program will allow for the funding to translate the curriculum and tools for all of the HECCP programs. Additionally, the end of the first phase of assessments and training presents an opportunity to improve the modules and tools based on the evaluations and feedback received from participants.
What Is Next
In year two, all evaluation data from year one will be reviewed for ways to incorporate lessons learned into the program moving forward. Any additional postenvironmental assessments will be conducted from the centers enrolled in year one.
An additional 20 child care facilities will be targeted and outreached to for inclusion into the DC HECCP in year two. Pre- and postenvironmental assessments will be conducted on the 20 centers. All of the directors and staff of those additional 20 centers will participate in the DC HECCP training. The DC HECCP Task Force will be convened quarterly and will specifically begin to assist the program with steps toward influencing environmental health protective policy implementation in the DC child care arena.
Links and Products
- To learn more about the DC and other HECCP programs: http://www.cehn.org/cehn/education/childcare.htm.
- For a list of education, science, and advocacy tools and materials around children’s environmental health: http://www.cehn.org/Map.html.
- To obtain a radon test kit: http://www.radon.com/sub/cehn/.
- To obtain copies of the assessment tools, action plan template, and topical modules, contact Laura Hepting, MS (CEHN; (202) 543-4033, ext. 12; email@example.com) or Aurora Amoah, MPH (George Washington University, The Mid-Atlantic Center for Children’s Health & the Environment, 202-994-1166, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.health-e-kids.org).