E. L. Cord Child Care Center- Spotlight Provider

The E. L. Cord Child Care Center is located in Reno Nevada, within Truckee Meadows Community College. Keri Meranda the Program Director has been working within the early care and learning field for 38 years. E. L. Cord Child Care Center currently cares for 80 children but is licensed to care for up to 100 children from infancy through 5 years of age. Ms. Meranda learned about the Eco-Healthy Child Care® (EHCC) program and related endorsement while attending an EHCC class for trainers. EHCC offers a 5-hour Train-the-Trainer (TtT) curriculum for child care professionals; the course has been provided in 33 states thus far, for child care professionals who are child care health/nurse consultants, licensing staff, and/or trainers. The curriculum is scientifically based, peer-reviewed, and comprehensively covers environmental health hazards within child care settings.

Ms. Meranda was so motivated to take further action to reduce known environmental health hazards within her child care facility, that she decided to work with her team to have the E. L. Cord Child Care Center endorsed by EHCC.

Ms. Meranda and her team found that many of the items on the EHCC checklist were easy to implement and that the center was in fact already engaging in a few eco-healthy best practices such as having a no smoking policy and regularly recycling. Part of the center’s success in easily implementing some of the EHCC best practice changes is due to Ms. Meranda’s efforts to work closely with the overarching management — the college campus. The campus supported the center by: financially supporting air quality testing; lead testing; and prohibiting vehicle idling. These policies and practices reduce children’s potential exposures to harmful emissions and pollutants.

The center extends EHCC’s best practice suggestions by furthering EHCC’s social media content through their online outlets while also distributing the EHCC fact sheets to educate staff and the parents served. For example, before facility staff shared EHCC’s resources on plastics, parents were packing their child’s/children’s food in plastic containers that were to be heated in the microwave. They now know that many plastics contain toxic chemicals that can negatively impact human health, especially the health of young children. For example, Bisphenol A (BPA) is commonly added to plastics to make them durable and strong; BPA is found in consumer products such as baby bottles, reusable water bottles, and plastic food containers. Due to the center’s education efforts, parents are now using glass bottles and sippy cups covered with a silicone sleeve instead of plastic options.

Additionally, the toddler and infant classroom floors used to be partially covered in carpet and partially covered with vinyl flooring. While working to have their facility become EHCC endorsed, Ms. Meranda and her team learned that wall-to-wall carpeting can trap pesticides, household cleaning residues, lead dust, and dirt. Wall-to-wall carpet can also release harmful gases into the air such as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) found in paint, flooring, and carpeting. This is a concern for young children, who naturally spend most of their time on or near the ground; exposure may lead to lung complications and may trigger asthma attacks.

The center’s upcoming eco-healthy goal is to further promote to parents what it means to be eco-healthy. For example, avoiding wall-to-wall carpeting, using low VOC paint, and choosing to use less toxic household chemicals, such as 3rd party certified green cleaning products when cleaning (not sanitizing or disinfecting). A tip Ms. Meranda would like to share is that other providers should feel encouraged that they can begin working towards their EHCC endorsement by simply addressing one task at a time; for instance, only using only cold water when preparing powder baby formula.