Child care facilities across California were required to test their drinking water for lead by the start of this year.

Why this matters

Lead exposure is especially harmful to children, who can absorb more lead than adults and have brains and nervous systems that are more sensitive to the damaging — and sometimes irreversible — effects.

More than 6,000 child care centers have complied with a California law to test for lead in their drinking water. A quarter of them found levels higher than the state limit — and thousands more have yet to test.

Under a 2018 bill, facilities were required to conduct lead testing by Jan. 1 of this year. But an inewsource analysis of state data and test results provided by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group found that more than 7,800 facilities — licensed to care for as many as 400,000 children — had yet to do so.

That doesn’t include an additional 28,000 facilities across the state known as family child care homes, which aren’t required to test and can go unmonitored for lead levels entirely.

The database below shows results for child care centers that submitted and finalized test results by the state law’s Jan. 1 deadline. Some have tested different water faucets or other sources at the same location, resulting in multiple results.

Those found with higher levels than the state 5-parts-per-billion limit are required to immediately cease using the affected fountains and faucets inoperable “and obtain a potable source for water for children and staff,” according to the law.

For facilities with multiple locations under the same name, you can look up your center’s facility ID on the DSS website here. Select “child care” under facility group to search by address.

If your child’s center is not found in the database, it may be exempt from the law, conducted testing after the deadline or has yet to check its drinking water for lead. 

Child care providers with more information about their testing or that have since submitted results can contact inewsource reporter Andrea Figueroa Briseño at

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Andrea Figueroa Briseño is an investigative reporter at inewsource and a corps member for Report For America, a national service program that tasks journalists to report on undercovered communities and issues. She covers education and focuses her reporting on Latino students and families who are part...

Jill Castellano is an investigative data coordinator for inewsource. When she's not deep in a spreadsheet or holed up reporting and writing her next story, she's probably hiking, running or rock climbing. She also loves playing board games and discussing the latest chapters with her book club. Jill...