The Daily Item
HARRISBURG — The Department of Public Welfare is offering $200,000 in mini-grants to child care centers to work toward achieving higher quality environmental health standards.
The new Pennsylvania Early Care and Education Healthy and Green Initiative is jointly funded by the Heinz Endowments and is aimed at promoting healthy early childhood development.
It will help fund environmental health improvements in child care programs participating in the Keystone STARS program, a voluntary quality improvement program for child care and Head Start programs. Each child care center will be eligible to apply for up to $5,000 to make environmental health improvements.
Years of research has concluded that environmental toxin exposure can have serious and negative impacts on many different parts of a child’s developing body and may contribute, but not necessarily cause, health problems such as asthma, cognitive developmental delays, respiratory illnesses and learning disabilities.
The Children’s Environmental Health Network, a national multi-disciplinary organization whose mission is to protect developing children from environmental health hazards and promote a healthier environment, and its Eco-Healthy Child Care Program© will provide the framework for making environmental health improvements in early learning programs across Pennsylvania. Programs will be required to attend professional development training through Eco-Healthy Child Care© in order to apply for funding.
For more information about the initiative and mini-grants program, visit www.pakeys.org.