Save the Children Partners with the University of Michigan-Flint to Protect Young Children from Lead Poisoning

Many Parents and Child-Care Providers Are Not Receiving Critical Support or Training

Flint smoothie project

Brianna, 5, is a participant in Save the Children's smoothie program at her daycare at Alpha Montessori School at the YWCA in Flint, Mich. She just tried a new recipe, "purple," which is made of blueberries and spinach. She liked it so much, she asked for seconds. The Save the Children smoothie program is helping children to eat healthy, nutrient-rich foods to mitigate the impact of lead exposure. Save the Children is in Flint, responding to the water crisis. Alpha child care serves 90 children, over 60 of whom are from low-income, vulnerable families. Photo by Stuart Sia / Save the Children.

Flint smoothie project

Adonai, 4, says she loves chocolate, but she also loves apples, carrots, and strawberries. "Pink is my favorite." Her grandma, who she calls 'grammy,' came early to pick her up, but let her stay a little bit longer for the smoothies. "It's good!" she tells grammy, who is sampling the smoothies. Photo by Stuart Sia / Save the Children photo.

Media Contact
Jeanne-Aimee DeMarrais 203.919.2219 (M)

Flint, Mich. (April 20, 2016) — Young children are the most vulnerable to injury from lead, and yet a significant portion of the population in Flint may not be receiving critical information that they can trust on how to protect their children from lead poisoning. State officials have been educating families through public schools, but parents of the more than 1,000 babies and young children who attend child care (non-state or federally funded) in the city of Flint have been receiving conflicting information and are not sure which messages to trust. Save the Children is working in Flint with the University of Michigan-Flint to assess and document critical gaps at more than 50 child-care programs in Flint that serve close to 1,000 young children.

Results from the first 15 site visits indicate that child-care providers are seeing concerning changes in young children's behaviors, including increased aggression and impulsive behaviors that are often associated with lead poisoning. And some providers are reporting that no one has reached out to help them.

While child care providers are the first responders for many of these children, they are not yet receiving the resources that they need to support young children.

Save the Children is one of the only national organization expert in emergencies and early childhood learning that is reaching this group of programs and families in Flint.

"We are here to give the children a fighting chance," said Jeanne-Aimee DeMarrais, Save the Children's senior director of U.S. emergencies.

"Save the Children has come to Michigan to empower child-care providers to support the young children in their care," added DeMarrais. "Our experts have been leading assessments and outreach to the child-care programs in Flint – and we are providing information and resources to support their immediate needs.

"Over the next weeks and months, Save the Children will be helping teach them about the important brain development that takes place in the critical first five years of life. We will teach providers and parents how to help mitigate the impact of lead on children's growth and development, before their child even enters elementary school."

In the past two months, Save the Children has built strong partnerships with the early childhood community in Flint to ensure that the most vulnerable children, ages pre-birth to 6, as well as pregnant women, have their voices brought to the table for both response and recovery efforts.

Save the Children's efforts have focused on mitigating the impact of lead in young children by helping ensure they have access to nutrient-rich foods and early learning. The global children's organization has also supported the distribution of safe water for families in the affected communities, helping over 11,000 people in Flint, to date, of whom over 3,000 are young children.

Save the Children gives children in the United States and around the world a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We invest in childhood — every day, in times of crisis and for our future. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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