Before You Choose Child Care: Check Out the Green Factor
Experience, education and personality may be a perfect match between a child care provider and family, but many parents are taking it a step further by checking out a home or center’s overall “green health” before making a decision. Common chemicals can have adverse affects on certain kids, making those parents vigilant in choosing only facilities that are green. A growing number of families are also asking additional questions about use of pesticides, paint, lead in toys, cleaning products and foods served. After all, kids in full-time care can spend 40 hours there every week, making these questions valid.
Does Your Child Have Asthma, Allergies or a Weak Immunity?
While most kids are fine around chemicals such as cleaners and pesticides, certain children with weaker immune systems may get overloaded with toxins in their environment. Everyone wants their kids to be cared for in a clean environment, but many of the professional-grade cleaners and processes aren’t green. If concerned, ask whether eco-friendly cleaners are used (these can be baking soda, white distilled vinegar, hydrogen peroxide). Keep in mind that national statistics show that 1.6 millions tons of household hazardous waste is generated every year, most of which is from common products.
What Type of Pesticide Treatment Program is Utilized?
Schools and institutional daycare centers typically rely on carefully restricted mainstream products and practices. These procedures not only protect children but employees as well, and notices are usually posted with advance notice prior to treatment. Those rules don’t apply to family caregivers, however, so concerned parents should ask what type of pesticide program is done and what products are used.
What Policies/Practices Are Used Limiting Outdoor Activity on Ozone Alert Days?
Ozone, particulates and even heavy metals in the air can cause respiratory problems for kids with asthma or those with weakened immunity systems. Many large community feature ozone alert days or general air quality reports, but savvy parents need to make sure they understand what the various levels mean and whether their kids should be kept indoors on certain days. Don’t be afraid to inform your child’s caregiver of indoor requirements, but realize also that providers may not have the back-up care means to watch your child if the rest plan an outdoor field trip or picnic under conditions most kids will be fine with.
What Do Your Kids Eat in Daycare?
While parents may prefer their kids eat only organic foods, the reality is that most care providers do not have the budget or the means to truly prepare and serve meals that meet these requirements. The same can be said for food additives and preservatives. Parents requiring this option may elect to find a nanny or in-home provider who can meet these preferences, and a select few commercial daycare centers may offer meals in this fashion … at a price, of course. Parents should speak up with any food allergies or items that should not be served to THEIR child. That is an accommodation that should be easily met.
Are Environmental Practices Followed?
Teaching kids to be environmentally responsible can start in small steps. For starters, teach youngsters the 3 R’s of recycling: reduce, reuse, and recycle. But many green conscious families want the same efforts used at their child’s daycare setting. So ask potential providers about their recycling efforts and how children in their care are being encouraged to be green.
Source: Robin McClure, About.com