Family Child Care Homes
All licensed family childcare homes must participate in this program. The option to opt-out ended on March 31, 2023
Failure to enroll and complete a sampling plan by May 17, 2023, may result in your family child care home being unable to complete sampling by the May 31, 2023 deadline.
About the program
This site will help you understand any requirements, timelines, and the process for your family child care home to participate in the Test and Fix Water for Kids program. This site is specifically for family childcare homes. Information is also available for childcare centers or schools.
The Test and Fix Water for Kids program will help your family child care home meet the testing requirements by providing free training testing kits, help with testing, help with understanding results, help with fixing problems, and help with repayment for any costs.
Why is testing for lead important?
Testing is the only way to know whether your water contains lead. You cannot see, taste, or smell lead in drinking water. While exposure to lead can come from many sources, old or corroded lead plumbing or brass fixtures can contribute to elevated lead levels in drinking water. Lead is associated with adverse health effects, especially harmful to young children.
What happens if I have high results?
Suppose a drinking water test results show a rounded lead result of five parts per billion or higher. In that case, the program will assist you with selecting the appropriate fix to keep children from being exposed to elevated levels of lead in drinking water.
This program will pay for you to fix problems that cause lead in water in your home. This program is free.
We can work one-on-one with you on all of these steps. Please email email@example.com or call our technical assistance hotline at 719-733-7468. Assistance is available in multiple languages.
Enrolling in the program will allow your facility to get a free lead testing kit and, if needed, funding to help fix problems if lead is detected above five parts per billion (ppb).
Family childcare homes had the option to opt out of the program if they did so before March 31, 2023. At this time, all unenrolled licensed family child care homes must enroll by filling out the Family Child Care Home Form.
We are here to help with all of these steps and can work one-on-one with you. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call our technical assistance hotline at 719-733-7468. Assistance is available in multiple languages.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How do I enroll?
Fill out the Family Child Care Home Form or click the buttons above. You will need your Child Care Provider License number to complete the form.
- I need one-on-one assistance.
Please email email@example.com with your name, facility name and type, and Child Care Provider License number (for child care). If this is urgent, please call our technical assistance hotline at 719-733-7468.
- Why is the program mandatory for family childcare homes? I thought that it was optional.
Family childcare homes could opt out of the program before March 31, 2023. That opportunity has passed.
- Are all family childcare homes required to test for lead through the Test and Fix Water for Kids program?
Family childcare homes had an option to opt out of the program before March 31, 2023. That opportunity has passed.
- How will family childcare home providers be able to opt out of the program?
Opting out of sampling must be documented in the Family Child Care Form before March 31, 2023. That opportunity to opt-out has passed.
- What are the deadlines?
March 31, 2023: Deadline to opt out of the program.
May 31, 2023: Deadline to test your drinking water sources for lead.
- What benefits exist for family childcare homes who participate in the program?
The Test and Fix Water for Kids program is a unique opportunity to test your drinking water taps for lead and take action at no cost. Opting into this program and taking action now will ensure that funding is available to help fix problems if lead is detected at or above five ppb. In addition, the department will provide a certificate of completion to show your dedication to protecting the health of Colorado’s children.
- Can family childcare homes who chose to opt out now be allowed to participate (opt back in) in the program and qualify for reimbursement funds before the March 31, 2023 deadline?
Yes, family childcare homes can opt back in before the deadline. By March 1, 2023, if you want to opt back in, please return to this page and fill out the Family Child Care Form again.
- If a family child care home tests their drinking water, can they opt out of remediation?
No. Once taps are tested, remediation is required for all taps with lead test results at or above five ppb. However, the program will reimburse remediation costs to fix any lead results requiring remediation.
- What if I have already tested the water in my family child care home because it’s well water and required for my license?
You are required to retest following the guidance provided in this program.
- Will a list be posted of family child care homes who opt out?
A total count of family childcare homes that have opted out will be reported to the legislators, and the department will not specifically list programs that have opted out. All test results for participating providers will be available, so providers who opt out will not be included on the results list. Both options (opting out or in) chosen by completing the survey are compliant.
- Will the department conduct inspections or follow-ups with family childcare homes to check for compliance?
The current bill is a requirement on the providers and is self-enforcing. It does not require any inspections or enforcement by the department.
- What happens to family childcare homes that miss the deadline to test and don’t opt out?
These providers will be listed as non-compliant with the requirement for participation in a report to the Colorado Legislature. You must either opt-out or test. If you opt-out, the deadline is March 31, 2023. If you test, you must do so by May 31, 2023.
- What if we use delivered bottled spring water for childcare cooking and drinking? Do we need to test this water source, or should we opt out if this is our only water source used for childcare, cooking, and drinking?
You should opt out of this program if you continue using bottled water indefinitely for your family child care home. However, this is a unique opportunity to test your tap water and remediate the immediate plumbing if you want to stop purchasing bottled water. You should not test the bottled water; test tap water.
- What if I am already using a lead-filtering water pitcher? Should I still test my direct water sources? Do I test the water from the lead-filtering pitcher?
You should opt out of this program if you continue using pitcher filters indefinitely for your family child care home. However, this is a unique opportunity to test your tap water and remediate the immediate plumbing if you want to stop using pitcher filters. If you test your water, it needs to be from the tap itself, not the pitcher.
After enrolling in the program, the next step is to create a simple water sampling plan for your family child care home. The goal is to collect water samples from all plumbing fixtures used for drinking water or cooking. Within a week of enrollment, the department’s technical assistance contractor, Colorado Rural Water Association, will email you an online sampling plan tool specifically for family childcare homes. The online sampling plan tool will ask basic questions about the sinks and other sources of water within your home any water filters, and will verify address information. If you need any help with the online tool or have questions about the guidance document, please get in touch at 719-733-7468 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
After you complete the online sampling plan tool, the department will send you a lead sampling kit with instructions, plastic bottles, and a return mailing label at no cost. Please note that the laboratory may take up to two months to analyze these samples.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Where should I sample for lead?
Our sampling plan tool will help you determine sample locations and how to label the sample locations consistently. Please use the training materials and sampling plan tool when you can begin sampling. If you need help at any time, our technical assistance team is available to answer your questions.
- Which sinks/faucets do I need to test?
You only need to test water sources used for drinking or cooking in your family childcare home. You should only sample at faucets where there is a reasonable expectation that children will be drinking or at faucets where water is used for preparing food for children. We suggest you include at least two locations for sampling within your home in case your primary water faucet results have elevated lead levels.
- How many samples will be collected at each facility?
All water sources that are reasonably used for drinking or cooking must be tested (for example, kitchen sinks and refrigerator water dispensers). For some family childcare homes, this could be only one or two samples, depending on the size of the home. We have easy sampling instructions and a sampling plan tool for family childcare homes to know where to sample.
- What if some of my water sources (for example, fridge water dispenser) are already being filtered for lead? Do I still need to test these sources?
Yes, all drinking water sources need to be tested for lead. The online sampling plan tool will ask you to mark which drinking water sources are filtered.
- How should we inform parents and other stakeholders that we intend to test our water for lead?
A downloadable letter template is available to inform parents/guardians and employees of planned sampling activities. It is also available to download in Spanish.
Sampling for lead is as simple as filling bottles in order of the sampling locations you selected in your sampling plan and shipping the bottles back to the laboratory. You will receive a lead sampling test kit with instructions within three weeks after completing the online sampling plan tool. The kit will include everything you need to sample lead: 250 mL sampling bottles in a plastic bag, sample labels, laboratory chain of custody form, sampling instructions, and return shipping label. No special equipment is required.
You want to take water samples sitting in the pipes overnight at each faucet. To do that, you must ensure the water has not recently been moving around in your home's pipes. For that reason, please sample on a day and time when the water anywhere in your house has not been used for 8-18 hours. It should not be after a vacation or a time when the water has been sitting for longer than 18 hours. It should be on a day when normal childcare activities happened the day before. Sampling on a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday early in the morning before anyone uses the water is the best time.
- Open the sampling kit box (do not use a knife because that may cut the bag inside).
- Remove the plastic bag containing the bottles, the bottle labels, the sampling instructions, the return shipping label, and the laboratory Chain of Custody form.
- Look at the Chain of Custody form. Does it list all your sampling locations? If not, email email@example.com so we can get you what you need.
- Look at your bottle labels. Is there a bottle label for each sampling location? If not, email firstname.lastname@example.org so we can get you what you need.
- Carefully remove the bottles from the plastic bag (do not tear the bag). Do you have a bottle for each sampling location? If not, email email@example.com so we can get you what you need.
- Put the plastic bag and the return shipping label in the box and save the box.
- Pick a day to sample. On the night before, notify other people living in the home that they should not use water, take showers, or flush toilets the next morning until you have finished sampling. Put some reminder notes next to sinks and fixtures that they might use.
- On the night before you plan to sample, put your bottles, labels, chain of custody form, and a pen or pencil where you can easily use them in the morning.
- On the morning you take samples, start with the FIRST sampling location listed on the chain of custody.
- Go to the first faucet. Open the sampling bottle and save the cap. WITHOUT turning on the water, hold the bottle under the faucet. Make sure that the water faucet is set to COLD water, gently turn on the faucet, and catch the water in the bottle. Turn off the water when the bottle is almost full. Put the cap on the bottle and close it tightly.
- Look at the chain of custody. On the line for that sample location, enter the DATE and TIME you collected the sample. Put the label on the sample bottle that matches that sample location.
- Go to the next sample location and repeat these steps.
- When you complete sampling, bring all your bottles and the chain of custody form back to one spot. Look at your chain of custody form. Did you fill in a DATE and a TIME for each sample collected? Are all your bottles labeled? Do you have a full water sample bottle for each location?
- Look at the chain of custody form. Make sure it is filled out according to this guidance. There is a place for you to sign the form. Sign the form and put the form in the box. NOTE: THIS FORM MUST BE IN THE BOX FOR YOUR SAMPLES TO BE ANALYZED!
- Take the plastic bag out of the box, put the full bottles in the plastic bag, and close the bag. Place the bag of bottles in the box.
- Take the return shipping label out of the box. Close the box with tape. Stick the return shipping label over the top of the old label.
- To return your water samples, you can do one of the following:
- Drop off your FedEx package at a FedEx location or a FedEx drop box. Click here to find the closest location to you.
- Call FedEx at 800-463-3339 to schedule a pickup at your location.
- Request assistance from our technical assistance provider at 719-733-7468 to help you schedule a FedEx pickup.
Analysis of your samples by the State of Colorado laboratory is free. Results could take between a week and two months. Lead results will be available on the Test and Fix Water for Kids website, and you will receive an email with your results. After you receive your results, our technical assistance provider will contact you to review the results and any next steps.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How long will it take to test my water?
The sampling process is simple. You can usually complete all initial samples for a childcare home in less than 30 minutes. Samples must be collected in the morning before any water has been used. Please note that labs may take up to two months to analyze the samples.
When should I sample for lead?
Our training and technical guidance will walk you through the details of lead sampling. We will ask you to take samples first thing in the morning following a normal day of operation. You will need to ensure the sample represents water that has been stagnant between 8-18 hours. This means all water in the house, not just the faucets where you are sampling. As a result, we recommend sampling on a day between Tuesday-Saturday within the hours of 5:30-7:30 a.m., before anyone has used water in your home, and avoid sampling after vacations. It is a good practice to let the people living in your home know when you plan to sample and to leave signs at water faucets, asking that they not use them in the morning until you have collected samples. Do not flush the toilet first thing in the morning until AFTER you have collected samples. If someone accidentally uses the water, sample it on another day.
What are the deadlines?
May 31, 2023, is the deadline to test your drinking water sources for lead.
Can we sample our water, or do we have to have a “professional” collect samples?
You do not need a professional to sample your water for you. It is as easy as filling a plastic bottle with cold water under each faucet you use for drinking/cooking. Our online sampling plan tool will help you determine where to test and automatically create a sample plan.
Where do I submit my water samples?
The state laboratory will provide sampling kits to participating entities at no cost. These sampling kits will include a prepaid FedEx label for returning the samples to the laboratory. To return your water samples, you can do one of the following:
Drop off your FedEx package at a FedEx location or a FedEx drop box. Click here to find the closest location to you.
Call FedEx at 800-463-3339 to schedule a pickup at your location.
Request assistance from our technical assistance provider at 719-733-7468 to help you schedule a FedEx pickup.
Do we need special equipment to collect the water sample?
No, if you choose to use the state laboratory for testing, the lab will ship a complete sampling kit to you at no cost.
How long does it take to get back lead results from water testing?
After receiving your samples, it can take up to two months to receive results from the state laboratory.
Do I have to use the free sampling kits and lead analysis at the state laboratory?
No, if you do not want to use the state laboratory services, you may use any lab certified in Colorado to analyze for lead in drinking water. If you do not use the state laboratory, you will have to coordinate bottle orders, shipments, and data reporting with the other lab, will have to pay for sampling upfront, and will have to submit receipts to the department for reimbursement of laboratory analysis costs.
After the lead results come back
You will receive an email with a summary of your lead results, an explanation of the lead testing results the next steps for your facility, and information about blood lead testing. The email will come from firstname.lastname@example.org. An example of this email is found here. You must give these results to your employees and parents/guardians within two business days of receiving the results. The email is in both English and Spanish. If you need information in another language, you can request it when you receive the results. The Test and Fix Water for Kids results webpage will have a detailed list of your results.
If lead results are less than 5 parts per billion (ppb) (4.4 ppb and below)
If all your results are less than five parts per billion (ppb), you do not need to take further action after reporting the results to your employees and parents/guardians.
This program is a one-time screening for all drinking water sources. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends that you complete regular periodic lead testing, but this will not be covered under the current Test and Fix Water for Kids program. You can still take easy steps to reduce lead further (see FAQ 3 below).
If lead results are 5 ppb or above (4.5 ppb and above)
Our technical assistance team will contact you if any of your results are equal to or greater than five parts per billion (ppb). They will cover the next steps with you. First, you must immediately stop using the water at that sampling location for drinking or cooking. You can continue to wash your hands and dishes. DO NOT boil your water to remove lead. Boiling water does not remove lead from water. Please do not begin fixing this location until you receive the following steps from our technical assistance team. If you have questions, please call us at 719-733-7468.
See step five for more information.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is done with my test results?
The department will provide all results publicly on the Test and Fix Water for Kids webpage within 30 days of receiving results. These results will be shared in a report back to legislators.
Do I need to notify the parents of the children in my childcare center?
Yes, you will be required to notify the parents of the children in your childcare center. A template letter summarizing results will be available for you to share with parents/guardians. It is required to share the information in this letter with parents/ guardians within two days of receiving the lead test results. This letter is required under the program. In addition, the department will provide all results publicly on the Test and Fix Water for Kids webpage within 30 days of receiving results.
What can we do to reduce lead in water?
If lead is detected in concentrations less than five ppb, the Environmental Protection Agency's 3Ts lead testing guidance recommends the following steps to reduce exposure to lead further:
Periodic flushing after long periods of low or no usage (weekends and breaks). At your home, this can be as simple as taking a shower or doing laundry/dishes in the morning.
Use cold water only (especially when boiling water or preparing baby formula).
Regularly clean your faucet aerator or screen to remove lead particles that can build up.
If I test and pass, is that all I have to do? Will I have to test yearly?
The bill is written as a one-time screening for all drinking water sources. Regular lead testing every 3-5 years is recommended in the Environmental Protection Agency's 3Ts lead testing guidance but will not be covered under the current Test and Fix Water for Kids program.
What does ppb mean?
The units describing the lead concentrations in your water can vary across labs. To show how much lead is in water, it is described as the weight of lead in a specific volume of water. You can think of this as a grain of sand in a one-liter water bottle. That would be expressed as 1 milligram of sand in one liter of water or mg/L. This is also the same as saying there is 1 part of sand per 1 million parts of water or 1 part per million (1 ppm). One mg/L equals 1 ppm.
The labs may provide data in smaller units since lead is typically present in water at very low levels. One microgram is equal to 1000 milligrams. If you had 1 grain of sand in 1000 liters (that would be 200 bathtubs of water), this would be expressed as 1 microgram per liter. Micrograms are abbreviated as ug. So 1 microgram per liter is written as 1 ug/L. This is also the same as saying there is one part of sand per 1 billion parts of water, or 1 ppb (ppb). 1 ug/L equals 1 ppb.
Typically, your results will be in milligrams per liter (mg/L) (ppm) or micrograms per liter (µg/L) (ppb). The bill requires childcare facilities and schools to mitigate any drinking water source if lead is detected at or above five ppb, or 0.005 ppm.
How is a result of less than 5 ppb considered to be equal to 5 ppb?
The results from the state laboratory or any lab you use may come with more than one reported digit. For example, 0.0045 ppm, or 4.5 ppb. These decimal points are rounded to the closest whole number for determining if actions are needed. This means any result at 4.5 ppb or greater will be recognized as equal to or above five ppb.
An example of this is as follows:
4.5 ppb rounds to 5 ppb = action required
4.4 ppb rounds to 4 ppb = action not required
If the lead results from any drinking water or consumption taps are 5 parts per billion (ppb) or greater, then as soon as you receive your results, you must
- Stop using any taps for drinking or cooking that have tested for lead at or above five ppb. Use a different tap for drinking and cooking.
- Notify parents and staff of the lead sampling results and the fact that you have stopped using locations that tested at or above five ppb lead.
- Start working on a remediation plan for each fixture with lead results at or above five ppb. See the action plan development and options below.
Action plan development
Each tap with a lead result above five ppb must have an action plan. Our technical assistance provider will reach out to assist with developing an action plan for each of these taps.
- The first step is to collect a secondary flush sample at these locations. Our technical assistance provider will arrange for additional sampling bottles to be sent to you and will provide instructions on taking secondary flush samples. A secondary flush sample is a sample that is collected after the faucet has been running for 30 seconds. The purpose of the secondary flush sample is to collect water in the pipes connected to the faucet so that you can know whether it is the faucet or the pipes that are causing the elevated lead levels.
- After you receive your flush results, the next step is to develop an action plan outlining what you plan to do at each faucet or tap with a lead result over five ppb. This plan must be submitted to the department within 30 days of receiving lead results. Our technical assistance provider will send you the form needed for this action plan. It will ask you to choose your planned fix (see examples below), enter the expected costs, and sign off with your initials. DO NOT begin your remedial action and fixes until your remediation form has been approved.
Possible options to reduce lead include:
- Cleaning the faucet aerator/ screen if applicable and re-testing.
- Replacing the faucet if the initial first draw sample is at or above five ppb of lead and the flush sample is below five ppb of lead.
- Replacing the immediate plumbing (pipe/solder, valves) under the sink if the initial first draw and flush sample are at or above five ppb of lead.
- Installing point-of-use filters if the faucet or plumbing replacements will not reduce lead results below 4.5 ppb.
- Removing the fixture if it is not needed and other acceptable drinking water sources are available nearby.
Action plan acceptance and remediation actions
The department or our technical assistance provider will notify you if your action plan has been accepted or if additional information is needed. After acceptance, you may proceed with your plan and submit receipts to the state to be repaid. See the payment section below for more information.
Any actions, such as faucet replacement, must be completed within 90 days of receiving lead results. To confirm that the action successfully lowers lead levels below five ppb, another lead water sample called a confirmation sample is required 90 days after the action is complete.
- Repayment requests will not be processed until the confirmation sample results are received.
- If the action does not reduce lead below five ppb, a point-of-use filter will be recommended when fixture and immediate plumbing replacements do not resolve the lead issue.
- If the action includes filter replacement, you must maintain records for at least five years to track filter replacement activities as required by the manufacturer's instructions.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How do we determine the source of lead?
Our sampling guidance outlines a two-step sampling plan as a best practice to determine potential lead sources. The initial first-draw sample represents water in contact with the fixture and upstream plumbing. A secondary flush sample represents water in contact with the interior plumbing. If lead is in the first-draw sample but not the flush sample, the fixture is the likely source. If lead is in both samples, the source likely is upstream and in the fixture. Our training guidance and technical assistance team will help you determine the best remediation response. The Environmental Protection Agency's 3Ts guidance provides further information for reducing lead in drinking water.
Repayment costs and process
The state will repay costs for fixing drinking water or consumption sources with lead levels at or above five ppb.
The following costs will be repaid as part of this program (estimated not-to-exceed values are shown in parentheses):
- Lead analysis from a certified laboratory that is not the state laboratory. (at cost - typically around $22 per sample)
- Permanent signage for designating taps, not for drinking. (free)
- Fixture/ Faucet replacement. ($500)
- Replace aerator. ($30)
- Removal of fixtures. ($150)
- Replacement of plumbing (pipes, solder, valves near the fixture). ($500)
- Installation of the point-of-use filter device and two years of filter replacement. ($300)
- Replacement filters: Up to two years of replacement filters for any filters that are installed under the Test and Fix Program or identified as not removing lead sufficiently during testing under the program. ($110)
- Drinking water fountain replacement. ($1,850)
- Bottle filling stations. ($2,450)
The following costs will not be repaid
- Lead service line replacement.
- Actions or fixes at taps with less than five ppb of lead.
- Actions, fixes, or sampling costs before August 11, 2022.
- Actions, fixes, or sampling costs that were repaid under another grant program.
- Contractor labor to sample or develop sampling plans (already provided through the department’s technical assistance contractor).