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Choose Safe Places

Logo: Children at table with an adult

We protect the health of children where they learn and play by providing guidance on how to make your environment safer for kids.

Watch this short video to learn more about our program!


​Oregon Choose Safe Places (OCSP) is a non-regulatory statewide initiative designed to help childcare programs make their properties safe for kids by protecting them from potentially harmful chemicals. We do this by helping evaluate potential environmental hazards at existing childcare programs. We can also assist in assessing safe sites for future childcare programs.​

To develop this program, we worked closely with the Oregon Department of Education Early Learning Division (ELD) Office of Child Care (OCC) and the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). ATSDR has developed a short video (link) on this program.​

Watch our short Oregon Choose Safe Places video (link) to learn more about our program!

Harmful chemicals can pose a hidden danger

Children and adults can be exposed to harmful chemicals from sources such as:

  • Contaminated soil and groundwater

  • Polluted drinking water

  • Outdoor air pollution

  • Chemicals used indoors

These chemicals can get into our bodies through skin contact, breathing, eating, or drinking. You might not consider this to be an issue at a childcare center, but harmful chemicals can linger on your property from past site activities or travel onto your property.

Children are more sensitive to harmful chemicals than adults

Children’s developing brains and growing bodies make them more vulnerable to the effects of harmful chemicals. Children tend to put their hands in their mouths, play on the ground, drink more water, and breathe more air for their size. These activities could potentially expose them to harmful chemicals could disrupt development, learning, and behavior. It can also contribute to diseases later in life.

Between Spring 2022 and Spring 2023, we sent Choose Safe Places packets to many licensed childcare providers in Oregon. We want to introduce you to our program and provide you with resources that will help you make your environment safer for kids.

The documents in the packet can be found on our Childcare Provider Checklist webpage and on our Safe Cleaning Printable Resources webpage.

We were not able to follow-up with every program that returned a checklist to us. If you have questions about environmental health or potential hazards at your childcare program, please c​ontact us. Our email is​​ if you have any questions. We are happy to help!

Check for potential hazards

We encourage every childcare operator to carefully evaluate their current or future sites using our environmental health assessment checklist. Our program can help you look for potential exposure to harmful chemicals from the following sources:​​

dumptruck Former use of site
​When businesses like factories, dry cleaners, and warehouses close, they can leave behind harmful chemicals in the air, soil, and water.

container spilling liquid​​ Nearby sites and activities
​If chemicals are released from nearby businesses they can move into the air, soil, or groundwater of a nearby property. For example, fumes from a nail salon can be a problem if it shares a ventilation system with your childcare center.

mountains with air particles Naturally occurring contamination
​Some contaminants occur naturally in air, water, and soil. Radon gas is a common natural hazard that can seep from underground into indoor air.

dripping faucet Safe drinking water
Clean water is crucial, especially for infants who drink formula made with tap water. Public water supplies are regulated and tested, but private wells are the owner’s responsibility to test. Also, lead from old pipes can leach into the water.

Air quality
Chem​icals in outdoor air can travel inside your building. These can combine with everyday activities like cooking, cleaning, and heating your property, causing your indoor air quality to be worse than outside.

Checklists and tools are available

We developed a checklist to help you evaluate potential environmental hazards at your property. Complete the Provider Checklist (link). If you would like more guidance on how to decrease your exposure to harmful chemicals or have any questions about the checklist, please contact us at

​Review the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s list of recommendations (link) to help ensure that your early education and care program is located in a safe place.

Visit our Additional Resources section below for more information on environmental health topics. Our Resource Guide identifies additional sources of information on potential environmental hazards and answers frequently asked questions.

Environmental Site Assessment Resources

  • Provider Checklist:
  • Childcare providers can use the checklist on this webpage to evaluate potential environmental hazards at their property

  • Environmental Site Assessment Resource Guide:
  • Use this guide to find additional sources of information on potential environmental hazards and view responses to frequently asked questions

Safe Cleaning & Disinfecting Resources

YouTube Channel

Visit our YouTube channel to learn more about our program and a variety of safe cleaning topics.

Oregon Choose Safe Places

Phone: 971-673-0970


Oregon Health Authority, Public Health Division
Attn: Oregon Choose Safe Places Program
800 NE Oregon St., Suite 640
Portland, OR 97232