May 13, 2024/News Releases

New Pilot Program to Make Cleveland Child Care Sites Lead Safe

Grant opportunity now open for child care providers

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Alana Wyche | 216.346.0363

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Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition, Starting Point and Cleveland Clinic have launched the Lead Safe Child Care Pilot Program to award 30 selected Cleveland child care providers with grant funds and services to address and eliminate lead hazards at their sites.

This program, funded by Cleveland Clinic, is the first-of-its-kind in the nation and an urgent response to eliminate lead poisoning in Cleveland children, who are four times more likely to have elevated blood lead levels than the national average. Currently, 12,604 children receive care at 509 child care sites in Cleveland—273 of which operate out of facilities built before 1978, according to Starting Point’s data bank.

“Cleveland Clinic is proud to support this very important and innovative effort to ensure that Cleveland child care centers are made lead safe,” said Roopa Thakur, M.D., pediatrician and medical director of Cleveland Clinic Children’s School-Based Health Care program. “This pilot aligns with the preventive and comprehensive approach that we and our many partners in the Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition have advanced to keep our children safe from lead, no matter where they spend time.”

The pilot program is part of an expansion of the coalition’s Lead Safe Home Fund, which provides families and owners with the resources they need to live lead safe. Extending services to child care providers will reduce children’s exposure to lead outside of their homes.

“Every child deserves to learn and grow in a lead safe environment, whether that’s at home or in a child care center. The Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition is proud to partner with Starting Point and Cleveland Clinic to expand our lead poisoning prevention work through the new Lead Safe Child Care Pilot,” said Ayonna Blue Donald, Vice President of the Ohio market for Enterprise Community Partners, which manages the Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition. “We’re committed to ensuring a healthier future for children in Cleveland and hope this program can also be a model for cities across the country.”

Eligible providers can be based in a rented or owned site built in 1978 or earlier and will receive approximately $12,000 in grants and free services from vetted, EPA-certified assessment and remediation specialists, as well as free services like business support and lead screening for the children at their programs.

“Child care providers are often small business owners who care deeply about the children in their care and can’t afford disruptions to their business. Starting Point is proud to lead a program that gives owners the resources to find and remove lead hazards and keep doors open at the same time. It’s an innovative way to tackle the lead poisoning crisis, support small business owners, and maintain the child care capacity in our city,” said Nancy Mendez, President and CEO of Starting Point.

Applicants must be licensed to operate a family child care center at a facility built before 1978. The application can be found on Lead Safe Cleveland’s website:

The Pilot phase of the program will run from 2024 until 2025, with plans to launch additional phases for a total of 120 facilities impacted.


Hazel G.Remesch, Esq., Director, State and Local Policy Ohio, 216.325.6573 (o)

Savannah Cater, Director of Marketing, 44.281.3934 (m)

Alana Wyche, Corporate Communications Manager, 216.346.0363 (m)

About the Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition

The Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition is a public-private partnership formed in 2019 to address the public health crisis of lead poisoning in our community. The cornerstone of the Coalition’s work is supporting the City of Cleveland’s Lead Safe Certification law which requires residential rental properties built before 1978 to be proactively certified as lead safe. Lead is an environmental toxin that affects the brain, heart, bones, kidneys, and nervous system, and there are no safe levels once it is in the bloodstream. The Coalition is implementing an alternative, preventative approach that saves money and protects Cleveland’s children from lead poisoning. The Coalition is open to everyone and comprises more than 500 members and 150 organizations, state and local governments, and families impacted by lead. To learn more, go to . Email: Social Media: @LeadSafeCLE

About Starting Point

Starting Point has a 34-year legacy as the go-to organization for families, child care providers, and the Northeast Ohio community for the resources they need to give children the quality care, learning, and activities that lead to success in school and in life. Starting Point provides 19 services to 24,000 families, children, and providers each year. Learn more about our mission:

About Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. Cleveland Clinic is consistently recognized in the U.S. and throughout the world for its expertise and care. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 81,000 employees worldwide are more than 5,743 salaried physicians and researchers, and 20,160 registered nurses and advanced practice providers, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic is a 6,690-bed health system that includes a 173-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 23 hospitals, 276 outpatient facilities, including locations in northeast Ohio; Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2023, there were 13.7 million outpatient encounters, 323,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 301,000 surgeries and procedures throughout Cleveland Clinic’s health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 132 countries. Visit us at Follow us at News and resources available at

Editor’s Note: Cleveland Clinic News Service is available to provide broadcast-quality interviews and B-roll upon request.

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