What is the Montana Choose Safe Places Program?

The Montana Choose Safe Places program was established in 2017 through a grant funded by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). The program goals are to prevent, reduce, and eliminate environmental exposures to children and staff of state licensed daycares.

How does the Montana Choose Safe Places Program work?

The Montana Choose Safe Places Program has created a short online survey that allows current and new daycare centers to submit a site assessment request to the program or download a property self-evaluation checklist (see How to Participate). Once a center submits a site assessment request, program staff will evaluate the site with publicly available data to determine if there is any risk of exposure to environmental hazards.  

Staff will consider the following in the assessment:

  1. What was the building used for in the past?
  2. Are there nearby properties that may contain or use hazardous chemicals?
  3. Are there naturally occurring hazards like radon?
  4. Is the source of drinking water safe? Has it been tested?

The daycare facility will receive a private letter showing the results of the assessment and any follow up suggestions by program staff. Participants will also receive a certificate of participation in the program which can be proudly displayed to parents and staff.

Why should I participate in the Montana Choose Safe Places Program?

Because sometimes environmental hazards are not always apparent

There have been examples of exposures due to past use of building such as a mercury thermometer manufacturing building, hair/nail salons or auto paint shops in close proximity to a daycare facility, hazardous chemicals left behind by past agricultural or industrial uses. Program staff with the Montana Choose Safe Places Program are trained to identify environmental hazards from a variety of sources and to make best management practice recommendations to reduce, prevent, and eliminate exposures.

Because children are not just "small adults"

Children's brains are still developing. They drink more water and breathe more air for their size than adults. They also play on the ground and put their hands in their mouth. Exposure to toxic chemicals can disrupt development, learning, and behavior.

Because it makes good business sense

By trying to reach daycare center operators before a site is chosen,  the program can potentially save them money and headache in the future by making sure that their site is safe from hazardous environmental exposures.