Madden/Sweeney Measure Would Require Dhss To Establish Safety Standards For Child Care Centers

TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senators Fred H. Madden and Steve Sweeney that would require the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) to adopt regulations establishing evaluation and assessment procedures for determining the safety of child care centers and schools was unanimously approved today by the Senate Environment Committee.

“I think this is all pretty simple. If an area of land is even suspected of having chemical contamination, it cannot later have a daycare center or a school built on its grounds,” said Senator Madden, D-Camden and Gloucester. “This bill is about the health and safety of the children of New Jersey. The guidelines established by this bill would work to prevent what happened on the Kiddie Kollege site from ever happening again.”

Kiddie Kollege was a child care center located in Franklinville which was built on the site of a former thermometer factory. Soil at the center was found to contain traces of mercury. An investigation is underway to determine who was at fault.

“Regulations like those proposed in this bill would help further our commitment to protecting our children,” said Senator Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Cumberland and Salem, who serves as Vice Chair of the Senate Environment panel. “The guidelines proposed in this bill would require DHSS to establish these regulations to make sure that our children are safe from industrial site contamination and other harmful chemicals.”

The Senators’ bill, S-2261, would amend the “Industrial Site Recovery Act” to require the DHSS to establish procedures for evaluating and assessing the current and maximum contaminant levels of the interior of buildings being considered for care centers or schools.

People found violating the bill’s provisions would be subject to fines of up to $50,000 per day.

The bill would also direct DHSS to issue certification to applicants who alter existing buildings to make them conform to regulations. Applicants seeking permission to open a child care or educational facility would be required to submit the certification to construction officials before being permitted to begin building.

This measure now heads to the full Senate for a vote.