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For immediate release: February 17, 2022
Contact: press@ocfs.ny.gov
Email: press@ocfs.ny.gov
Phone: 5184023130

NEW YORK STATE OFFICE OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES ANNOUNCES $1.9 MILLION EPA AWARD TO TEST FOR LEAD IN DRINKING WATER AT CHILD CARE FACILITIES

The New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) has been awarded a $1.9 million U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant that it used to establish its Lead Testing in Drinking Water Program. The free program is intended to assist in testing for lead contamination in drinking water at child care facilities. Child care providers can apply for the program until Sept. 1, 2023.
 
“Health, safety and child development are the top priorities in the child care programs we oversee,” said OCFS Commissioner Sheila J. Poole. “Lead causes serious harm to children, so it is incumbent on child care providers to be certain they are providing safe, clean drinking water. OCFS is very pleased to partner with them on this lead-testing grant to keep all children in care safe and healthy.”
 
There is no known safe lead level, and young children are the most vulnerable to this toxic metal, which can cause serious physical and behavioral issues, including impaired hearing, lower IQ, damage to the nervous system and hyperactivity. OCFS is prioritizing testing in facilities serving low-income communities, which research has demonstrated are consistently harmed because of disparate access to healthy environments. Facilities that provide care for children ages six and younger will be prioritized for funding.
 
Participation in this free initiative is voluntary. This program uses the EPA’s 3Ts for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water in Schools and Child Care Facilities guidance manual as a framework. OCFS has partnered with New York Environmental, an accredited laboratory certified by the Environmental Laboratory Approval Program, which will provide the lead testing for all drinking water outlets in eligible state-licensed and -registered child care facilities. OCFS will pay the lab directly for its services and will support providers in developing a plan for responding to elevated lead level results.
 
As a part of the program, OCFS offers free training opportunities for child care providers on the dangers of lead and additional resources for providers and families. Testing results will also be communicated to the community, families and the public. For more information and to apply for the program, providers should see https://ocfs.ny.gov/programs/childcare/lead-program.php.