August 3, 2021


The research was focused on child care providers, since children under the age of six are most at risk to the effects of lead exposure.

ILLINOIS – The Lead Free Future report from Elevate and Illinois Action for Children summarizes learnings from the past four years of work supporting the child care community in complying with lead in water testing and mitigation requirements in Illinois. Findings will help inform local and national efforts to address lead in drinking water.

Data featured in the report was collected from 2018 to 2019 through surveys, a focus group, and program implementation. The results revealed that about one-third of home-based providers and nearly half of center-based providers in Illinois found lead in their water at 2.01 ppb or higher and need to undergo mitigation actions to comply with state regulations.

The research also shows that providers want and need significant technical and financial support with both testing and mitigation. “Removing lead in water must be a priority – lead in water is a major health issue across the state,” said MariCarmen Marcias, a home-based child care provider in Chicago. “This should not be an issue about money, but a human right. We all have the right to have access to clean drinking water.”

“Illinois must ensure children are safe from lead poisoning in their homes and care settings. This report draws critical attention to the experience of child care providers tasked with mitigating lead in water, with limited resources,” said April Janney, President of Illinois Action for Children. “Illinois just passed legislation to ensure lead service line replacement, which prioritizes child care settings. Now we must fund it.”

Since Elevate and Illinois Action for Children started working with the child care community, important progress has been made in Illinois to address lead in drinking water, including the launch of a free state-wide lead in water testing program called LeadCare Illinois. In addition to this important progress the authors provide recommendations, including complementing any lead testing efforts with mitigation resources and funding, and creating comprehensive programs to address all lead hazards in child care facilities.

“It’s essential for us to share this research to promote the sharing of knowledge and collaboration on solutions,” said Caroline Pakenham, Senior Manager of Water Programs at Elevate. “Lead in water is a huge issue, and no one is going to solve it on their own. We need partnerships at the community, utility, provider, and government level to turn these recommendations into action.”

Read the Lead Free Future report to learn more.

About Elevate: Elevate is a nonprofit organization that works nationally and is headquartered in Chicago. Elevate designs and implements programs that reduce costs, protect people and the environment, and ensure the benefits of clean and efficient energy use reach those who need them most. Elevate is an expert in water safety and is the administer for LeadCare Illinois, a state-wide lead in water testing program.

About Illinois Action for Children: As a state and national leader in the early care and education field, Illinois Action for Children is distinguished by its “Strong Families, Powerful Communities” approach to child development, Pre-K and Head Start, and other family and community