Planning and Community Health Center

Planning for Early Care and Education in Hurricane-Affected Areas

Early care and education (ECE) facilities — daycare, pre-Ks, and other programs that serve children younger than school-aged students — can have significant impacts on children's health. Planners have opportunities to work with allied professionals to ensure that new programs avoid environmental health hazards.

Hurricane Recovery: Environmental Health and Planning Initiatives

In communities impacted by hurricanes, these considerations are particularly relevant as communities undergo long-term recovery activities. Public participation can incorporate community values into new projects while encouraging informed decisions to support environmental health. The products developed for this project aim to address a gap in the connection between environmental health, public participation, and planning for early care and education programs.

In 2016, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) released the Choose Safe Places (CSP) for Early Care and Education Guidance Manual and began funding 25 cooperative agreements with states to begin building the CSP programs. Following the devastation of the 2017 hurricane season, ATSDR began the mission of creating the CSP Disaster Recovery Supplement to aid in the disaster recovery efforts for ECE programs and facilities.

In December 2018, the American Planning Association began a project in collaboration with the National Environmental Health Association and Region II Head Start Association. Through disaster recovery funding from ATSDR, these groups began working together on the Choose Safe Places initiative to help inform and educate decision-makers and professionals about the proper siting of ECE programs.

The project resulted in two products:

  • Educational module in two formats: StoryMap and PDF report. The module, "Planning for Early Care and Education: Siting Considerations to Encourage Environmental Health," addresses key considerations for ECE facilities.
  • Public participation guide, "A Guide for Public Participation in Hurricane Affected Areas," focused on engaging communities in hurricane-affected areas.

Both are available in English and Spanish.


Educational Module: Planning for Early Care and Education

The first part of this project consists of a four-part educational module. This module guides planners who are interested in using community information to select safe sites for early care and education facilities. It is available as interactive StoryMaps and as a printable report.


Teacher and early learning students.

The educational module is an interactive StoryMaps, available in English and Spanish.

Part 1: Planning and Environmental Health With A Focus on Early Care and Education — English | Español

Part 2: Environmental Health Considerations for Siting ECE Programs — English | Español

Part 3: Land Suitability Analysis — English | Español

Part 4: Safe Siting in Hurricane-Affected Areas — English | Español

Planning for Early Care and Education

Cover of the report Planning for Early Care and Education: Siting Considerations to Promote Environmental Health.

Siting Considerations to Promote Environmental health

Many children spend a significant part of their day in early care and education (ECE) programs. It is of utmost importance, then, that ECE programs are in areas where the natural environment (e.g., air, water, soil) does not harm children's health. With an understanding of important environmental health concepts, collaboration with affiliated professionals, and necessary resources to site ECE programs, planners can plan for environmental health. This module provides strategies, resources, and other information to promote safer ECE siting.

A Guide to Public Participation in Hurricane-Affected Areas

This public participation guide compliments the first product by outlining how public participation can be used for redevelopment. Public participation plays a large role in helping communities determine the next steps following a hurricane. This guide reviews key considerations, strategies, and methods for planners engaged in public facilitation in hurricane-affected areas. It contains a supplementary design charrette guide, which reviews steps to implement a collaborative public participation activity with a community. It is available in English and Spanish.