March 2014  |  An educational eNewsletter for Rhode Island-based licensed child care providers and non-profit organizations

In This Issue
Rhode Island Early Learning Facility Needs Assessment
Clatter in the Classroom
Pesticides and the Developing Child
Could your playground be exposing children to arsenic?
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Is your playground safe?

Did you know that playgrounds located at child care centers are considered "public playgrounds" and as such should meet the safety guidelines established for public playgrounds? You can learn more about these guidelines and access many helpful resources at the U.S. Consumer Protection Council's Public Playground Safety website.


Some of the key things you need to pay attention to include the depth of "loose fill" surfacing under structures, the distance of play equipment from other structures or activity zones, and safety concerns such as entrapment and trip hazards. There are also guidelines on the type and size of equipment that is appropriate for any given age group. Learning more about these important guidelines will help you to create a safer environment for the children in your care!

The newly opened Center for Early Learning Professionals provides technical assistance and quality grant opportunities

The Rhode Island Center for Early Learning Professionals provides professional development, technical assistance and quality improvement grant services to early learning programs and providers. Through the Center for Early Learning Professionals, the State of Rhode Island is offering Quality Improvement (QI) Grants to help early childhood programs and providers achieve their improvement goals, achieve a higher star rating and advance teaching practices that support positive learning and developmental outcomes for children. Visit the Center's website for more information.


The Rhode Island Child Care Facilities Fund (RICCFF) is an innovative public-private partnership dedicated to expanding access to quality child care and early education in low-income communities throughout Rhode Island. Launched in 2001, the RICCFF provides the capital and technical expertise that child care centers need to improve the quality and capacity of their physical space. The Fund can provide a combination of training, technical assistance and flexible, affordable financing for a wide range of projects including minor renovations or construction of a new, state-of-the-art child care facility. Click the logo below to learn more about what the RICCFF can offer your program.


Rhode Island Early Learning Facility Needs Assessment 


By now you have heard all about the Early Learning Facility Needs Assessment we are conducting. The Rhode Island Department of Education, in partnership with the Department of Human Services, contracted with the LISC Child Care Facilities Fund to conduct this Early Learning Facility Needs Assessment as part of its Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge efforts. One of the important components of this assessment is the on-line survey we are asking all early childhood centers to complete. Thank you to the 225 centers and schools who have already taken the time to provide their input through this survey tool. If you have not yet completed the survey please take a few minutes to do so today. You can access the survey through the button below. Centers completing the survey will have an opportunity to be selected for a $500.00 grant award. Awards will be made to a total of ten centers. The selection of these ten centers will occur on April 14, 2014 so be sure to get your survey filled out before that date!  


Clatter in the Classroom, by Sandra Duncan, Community Playthings


Early childhood classrooms are busy, active, and energetic places filled with a cacophony of sounds including children's laughter, conversations, and an occasional loud skirmish over a favorite toy. There are the sounds of blocks tumbling, music playing, cars and trucks racing up ramps, and dishes, pots, and pans rattling and clattering in the dramatic play corner. While this type of auditory clatter positively impacts children's engagement with the environment and interactions with others, some classrooms are also filled with negative classroom clatter-especially in the physical arrangement of the space.


Unlike the pleasant, clattery noise of children's laughter and play, a clattered physical environment is disruptive to children. Clattered environments are mentally noisy causing children's thought patterns to be interrupted, and resulting in children being unable to optimally function in the classroom. Examples of environmental clatter (or negative noise to children's brains) include over or underutilized spaces, poor traffic patterns, excessive furniture, and ineffective placement and positioning of equipment. Continue reading here.

Pesticides and the Developing Child 


Even low levels of exposure to some pesticides can be a threat to young developing bodies. Many pesticides can take a very long time to break down. They persist indoors for weeks on furniture, toys and other surfaces and can persist for years in dust. Research indicates that pesticide levels in indoor air are often higher than those found in outdoor air.


Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
is an effective and environmentally sensitive way to control pests and weeds. IPM does not prohibit pesticide use but uses the strategy of 'least toxic methods first.' IPM uses techniques that pose the least hazards to people, property, and the environment. It is also cost-effective. The Eco-Healthy Child Care Factsheet on Pesticides and Pest Prevention provides great information on implementing an Integrated Pest Management plan.

Could your playground be exposing children to arsenic?  

The wood in pre-2005 playground sets, picnic tables, benches and decks can contain potentially hazardous levels of arsenic due to the use of Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA) as a wood preservative and insecticide. Due to health concerns, CCA was phased out for residential uses in 2004. Children who regularly spend time on treated wood structures built prior to 2005 could potentially be exposed to arsenic (e.g., by putting their hands in their mouths after playing on treated structures). The risk of exposure can be avoided or at least reduced by applying two coats of a waterproof stain or sealant at least once per year. Learn more about arsenic and how to prevent it in your center by reading the Eco-Healthy Child Care Factsheet on Arsenic.