President Preckwinkle Announces Expansion of LeadCare Cook County in Partnership with Elevate
LeadCare Cook County supports a safe and healthy learning environment for children by offering free lead service line replacement to licensed child care providers in suburban Cook County
(Cook County, IL) – Today, President Preckwinkle announced that Cook County, in partnership with Elevate, has expanded LeadCare Cook County, a program that supports a safe and healthy learning environment for children by offering free lead service line replacement to licensed child care providers in suburban Cook County.
“LeadCare Cook County is a vital initiative that helps protect the safety and well-being of our children in suburban Cook County,” said President Preckwinkle. “By expanding this program, we are taking a significant step towards ensuring that no child is exposed to the dangers of lead. Cook County is committed to working collaboratively to provide a healthier environment and safer future for our children.”
Funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the program was launched in five pilot communities during its first year. After seeing success, the program will now utilize its learnings to expand to licensed child care providers throughout all of suburban Cook County. LeadCare Cook County aims to replace over 550 lead service lines at child care facilities over the lifespan of the program.
Emma Jefferson, owner of Emma’s Children’s Homecare in Calumet City, was among the first to receive free lead service line replacement through the pilot. After many years of footing the cost for lead mitigation in her child care facility, Emma expressed her relief to be able to have a more permanent solution to reducing lead in water:
“With this new program that they have out, you can get your pipes redone for free! Now, I am more confident. I’m happy. I’m saving money. And now I don’t have to worry about those lead lines anymore,” said Jefferson. “I’m grateful that this program is here. I’m so thankful that it’s all free. I know this water now is safe for the kids and my family.”
LeadCare Cook County is part of a $15 million transformational investment in lead service line replacement initiatives led by the County’s Bureau of Economic Development. This investment will help foster an equitable recovery from the pandemic and improve public health and environmental health for the overall well-being of residents, particularly in Black, Latine, and low-income communities. Cook County is partnering with Elevate on LeadCare Cook County, given Elevate’s significant experience serving child care providers in Illinois.
Providers can learn more about the program and enroll by visiting www.LeadCareCookCounty.org or calling 773-389-5657. Customer support is available in English and Spanish.
Cook County, through its Project Rainbow initiative, and Elevate are committed to addressing lead exposure in children. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that there are six to 10 million lead service lines across the country. Exposure to lead, even at low levels, can damage a child’s developing brain and nervous system, contributing to lower IQs, hearing loss, and learning and behavior problems in and out of the classroom. LeadCare Cook County addresses one of the largest contributors of lead in water, lead service lines, by identifying and removing these hazardous pipes.
About Cook County & Project Rainbow
Cook County is the second largest county in the United States, representing 5.2 million residents in Illinois. The President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners is the chief executive officer (CEO) of Cook County and oversees the Offices Under the President which includes the Bureau of Economic Development (BED). LeadCare Cook County is also being supported by Cook County’s Project Rainbow initiative, which aims to inform, inspire and impact children, students and families across the County. For more information on all Project Rainbow initiatives, please visit projectrainbow.cookcountyil.gov.
About Elevate Elevate has partnered with Illinois child care providers to reduce lead in drinking water since 2017. A nonprofit organization based in Chicago, Elevate seeks to create a just and equitable world in which everyone has clean and affordable heat, power, and water in their homes and communities. Learn more about Elevate at www.elevatenp.org.