Little Critters                                Early Learning Centers

Family Handbook

2018-2019 School Year


LITTLE CRITTERS EARLY LEARNING CENTER

WELCOME

Dear Family,

I would like to extend a warm welcome you and your family. Little Critters Early Learning Center is built upon a strong foundation of excellence and attentiveness. Little Critters Early Learning Center’s Director, Teachers and our Cook are 100% dedicated to the advancement of your child.  Teachers and staff strive to provide high quality, individualized education, in a fun, stimulating, nurturing environment.

Your child will develop physically, cognitively, socially, emotionally and intellectually with a strong emphasis on independence through our curriculum based program.  We offer a warm and caring environment where your child is able to learn cooperation, manners, empathy and respect for others.  Each child is given the opportunity introduced to tools that will assist them in reaching their potential.

 Here at Little Critters Early Learning Center we invite our families to join us in the adventures of teaching and learning. Children have much to learn from us, yet we find that we are learning from them, every day.  Throughout the year Little Critters Early Learning Center host numerous activities for families and friends to partake in.  Every event has a purpose and that is to make sure that all children are engaged in activities that best support their different learning styles and family culture. Little Critters Early Learning Center attempt to make our environment a fun, loving place that involves everyone.

Thank you for choosing Little Critters Early Learning Center. We look forward to providing your child with a caring and enriching environment.

Sincerely,

Brenda Dillingham

Director

littlecritterselc@gmail.com

216-252-2600

Little Critters Early Learning Center


Table of Contents

About Us        1

Philosophy        1

Mission        1

Certification        1

Definition of Family        1

Hours of Operation        1

Holidays        1

Admission & Enrollment        1

Inclusion        2

Non-Discrimination        2

Family Activities        3

Confidentiality        3

Staff Qualifications        3

Child to Staff Ratios        3

Communication & Family Partnership        3

Open Door Policy        4

Publicity        4

Curricula & Learning        4

Learning Environment        4

Curricula & Assessment        4

Developmental Screening        5

Outings and Field Trips        5

Transitions        5

Transition from home to center        5

Transition between learning programs        5

Transition to elementary school        5

Transition for before/after school care        6

Electronic Media        6

Multiculturalism        6

Celebrations        6

Rest Time        6

Toilet Training        6

Guidance        7

    Conflict resolution…………………………………………………………………………………………………..7

General Procedure        7

Challenging Behavior        7

Physical Restraint        7

Notification of Behavioral Issues to Families        8

Tuition and Fees        8

Payment        8

Late Payment Charges        8

Returned Checks/Rejected Transaction Charges        8

Late Pick-up Fees        9

Special Activity Fees        9

Additional Fees/ Credits        9

Attendance & Withdrawal        9

Absence        9

Vacation        9

Withdrawal        10

Transfer of Records        10

Closing Due to Extreme Weather        10

Drop-off and Pick-up        10

General Procedure        10

Cell Phone Usage        10

Authorized & Unauthorized Pick-up        10

Right to Refuse Child Release        11

Personal Belongings        11

What to Bring        11

Cubbies        11

Lost & Found        11

Toys from Home        11

Nutrition        12

Foods Brought from Home        12

Food Prepared for or at the Center        12

Food Allergies        12

Meal Time        13

Infant Feedings        13

Children 24 Months and Older        13

Diapers changed minimally every two hours        13

Health        14

Immunizations        14

Physicals        14

Illness        14

Allergy Prevention        15

Medications        15

Communicable Diseases        16

Safety        16

Clothing        16

Extreme Weather and Outdoor Play        16

Communal Water-Play        17

Injuries        17

Biting        17

Respectful Behavior        17

Smoking        17

Prohibited Substances        17

Dangerous Weapons        17

Child Custody        18

Suspected Child Abuse        18

Emergencies        18

Lost or Missing Child        18

Fire Safety        18

Emergency Transportation        18

Center Policies        19

Family Activities And Family Involvement        18

About Us

Philosophy

PHILOSOPHY:                                                                                                                                                                 Little Critters Early Learning Center believes that the first years of a child’s life is by far the most important.  Helping to lay the foundation for all intellectual and emotional development through nurturing and individualized attention.  Our Teaching staff take great care to provide a warm, friendly and fun environment for your child, while ensuring they receive the guidance and structure they need.  We strive to nurture your child’s ideas and imagination, acknowledging each child’s individuality and validate each personality.  Our goal is to provide a place where children know they are accepted, loved, protected and wanted; helping to instill in each child a strong sense of self-worth and purpose.  Our job is to make sure that each child has numerous positive experiences and interactions throughout their day.  It is the hope of Little Critters Early Learning Center that when the day is done, and your child goes home, they feel happy and proud of themselves; eager to share their day with you.  Each day we feel privileged to have had the opportunity to see the world through the eyes of your child and to join in their laughter.

Mission

Little Critters Early Learning Centers mission is to support the development of happy, caring and productive human beings by providing

To ensure a high quality early learning program, Little Critters Early Learning Center will:

Certification

Little Critters Early Learning Center is a Step Up to Quality ONE STAR rated program

Definition of Family

In this handbook we refer to family as a parent, legal guardian, sponsor or anyone else who provides for the well-being, best-interest and responsibility of the child in our care.

Hours of Operation

Early Learning services are provided from 5:00 AM to 6:00 PM MONDAY through FRIDAY.

Holidays

We are closed for certain holidays: New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Day after Thanksgiving and Christmas Day

We are closed for Professional Development four times per year dates will be announced

Admission & Enrollment

All admission and enrollment forms must be completed and first tuition payment or Copay must be paid prior to your child’s first day of attendance.

A two-week, non-refundable tuition deposit is required for each child enrolled. This deposit will be held without interest and will represent tuition payment for the last two weeks of the child’s enrollment.

Based on the availability and openings, our facility admits children from Six weeks of age until their twelfth birthday.

Children are admitted without regard to race culture, sex, religion, national origin, or disability. We do not discriminate on the basis of special needs as long as a safe, supportive environment can be provided.

Inclusion

Little Critters Early Learning Center believes that children of all ability levels are entitled to the same opportunities for participation, acceptance and belonging in Early Learning/child care. We will make every reasonable accommodation to encourage full and active participation of all children in our program based on his/her individual capabilities and needs.

If your child has an identified special need additional descriptive paperwork will be requested. Forms such as but not limited to: Special Diet Form, JFS 01217 Request For the Administration of Medication, JFS 01236 Child Medical/Physical Care Plan must be completed and training/ if needed of staff, completed prior to child’s first day of attendance.

Non-Discrimination

At Little Critters Early Learning Center equal educational opportunities are available for all children, without regard to race, color, creed, national origin, gender, age, ethnicity, religion, disability, or parent/provider political beliefs, marital status, sexual orientation or special needs, or any other consideration made unlawful by federal, state or local laws. Educational programs are designed to meet the varying needs of all students.

Family Activities

Each family is a child’s first teacher. We value families as partners in the growth and development of children in our program. We encourage parents and other family members to be involved in our program, visit children’s classrooms, participate in events, and provide feedback on our program. We offer a variety of ways in which families can participate in helping us establish and reach our program goals.

Please see the list of Family Activities at the end of this booklet.

Confidentiality

Unless we receive your written consent, information regarding your child will not be released with the exception of that required by our regulatory and partnering agencies. All records concerning children at our program are confidential.

Staff Qualifications

Our Teaching Staff are hired in compliance with the state requirements and qualifications as a base minimum. Typical staff certifications are as follows:

Position Title

Education/Certification

Experience

Lead Teacher

Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education and/or Child Development Associate Credential

2 or more years

Teacher Assistant

Working toward, Child Development Associate Credential

1 or more years

Caregivers participate in orientation and ongoing training in the areas of child growth and development, healthy and safe environments, developmentally appropriate practices, guidance, family relationships, cultural and individual diversity, and professionalism.

We strongly discourage families from entering into employment arrangements with staff (i.e. babysitting). Any arrangement between families and our caregivers outside the programs and services we offer is a private matter, not connected or sanctioned by Little Critters Early Learning Center

Child to Staff Ratios

Children are supervised at all times. All caregivers receive scheduled breaks which reduce fatigue and help to ensure alertness.

We maintain the following standards for child to staff ratios:

Age

Child to Staff

Maximum Group Size

< 18 months

5 to 1 / 12 to 2

12

18-36 months

7 to 1 / 14 to 2

14

3 year-olds

12 to 1 / 24 to 2

24

4 – 5 year-olds

14 to 1 /28 to 2

28

5 - 12 year-olds

18 to 1 / 36 to 2

36

Communication & Family Partnership

Daily Communications. Your child’s Teacher will keep you informed about your child’s activities and experiences at the center at pick up or drop off times. Any communication notes will be placed into your child’s go home cubby.

Parent Bulletin Board. Located above the Parent sign-in/sign-out station provides center news, upcoming events, faculty changes, holiday closing dates, announcements, etc.

Newsletters. Quarterly newsletters provide center news, events, announcements, etc. These newsletters are available at the Parent sign-in/sign-out station for your taking.

Email. We encourage you to provide an email address that you use regularly so that we may send you announcements, event invitations, newsletters and general updates.

Parent Resource Our parent resource area provides a learning environment for parents to share opinions, ideas and experiences and increase their understanding of learning and development. These resources are available everyday for your convenience.

Family Visits. Family participation is encouraged. Visit our classrooms, volunteer, come along on a field trip, or eat a meal with your child. Signing in is required for the safety and protection of our children. Each visitor must wear a visitor’s badge while on premises and sign-out upon leaving.

Family Game Night. Family game nights are scheduled the last Friday of the month from 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM. These nights include snacks, drinks and fun filled age-appropriate activities for families. Family Nights allow families and children time to share, learn, and have fun. Families have an opportunity to be a part of their child’s learning experience and connect with other families.

Conferences. Family & teacher conferences occur four times per  year. During these conferences, we will discuss your child’s strengths, likes and dislikes, and styles of learning. We will plan new goals for him/her.  We will work together to set goals for your child’s growth and development. You may request additional conferences regarding your child’s progress at any time. We encourage you to communicate any concerns.

Open Door Policy

We are delighted to have family members participate in our program. Parents/Guardians are welcome to visit Little Critters Early Learning Center any time during regular program hours. The infant room welcomes parents/guardians to nurse or feed their infants.

Open Door Policy does not mean the doors will be unlocked. For the safety and protection of the children, external doors will be kept locked at all times.

Our team will always do their best to speak with parents/guardians. Since staff days are devoted to caring for children, it is usually not feasible to have a long discussion during regular program hours. If a situation requires a longer discussion, kindly arrange for an appointment.

Publicity

Occasionally, photos will be taken of the children at the center for use within the center or on our website and on Brightwheel. Written permission/Consent will be obtained prior to use of photographs.

Unless the family indicates that they want their child to participate, we will not use pictures and names of children for publicity.

Curricula & Learning

Learning Environment

Little Critters Early Learning Center provides a rich learning environment with curricula that are developmentally appropriate to the specific ages in each classroom. We have a flexible day routine that allows children to advance at their own pace. We strongly believe that learning happens through play. Learning and exploring are hands-on and are facilitated through interest areas. Our program is designed to enhance children’s development in the following areas:  creativity, self-expression, decision-making, problem-solving, responsibility, independence, and reasoning. We encourage openness to that which is different from us, and the ability to work and play with others.

Curricula & Assessment

Little Critters Early Learning Center uses the Creative Curriculum. “To lift lives through education, Creative Curriculum engages in evaluative research, product and services development, publishing, and training.  We envision a world in which all educational settings use active participatory learning so everyone has a chance to succeed in life and contribute to society.”.  As part of this curriculum, we gather information about each child’s developmental abilities and evaluate progress so we can modify and adjust what we are doing in our classroom so as to deliver the best individualized instruction for each child. This evaluation is communicated to families periodically during the school year using various formal and informal tools, forms, and resources. LCELC has recently (10/2017) acquired and begun to implement “Creative Curriculum” in all of our classrooms

For information about your child’s day, please see copies of daily schedules and lessons plans posted in each classroom.

Developmental Screening

Little Critters Early Learning Center has recently obtained and trained for the use of: Teaching Strategies Gold assessment and Ohio’s Early Learning Assessment. We are looking forward to implementing these assessments and using the knowledge we gain to individualize your child’s curriculum to focus on his/her needs. “Our mission is big, but it is clear: to change the trajectory of the world, one child at a time”. LCELC has recently (10/2017) acquired and will begin to implement once trained “Creative Curriculum’s Teaching Strategies Gold” in all of our classroom Infancy thru Head Start/Pre-school.

Outings and Field Trips

Weather permitting; ABOVE 32* we conduct 30-45 minutes of supervised outdoor play two times a day for all children. {Infants warmer weather only} Children are accounted for at all times. A permission statement for participation in walking trips around the neighborhood will be provided when planned.

For outdoor play, please dress your child appropriately for the season. Walking shoes are a must. Sandals and flip-flops are not appropriate for Little Critters Early Learning Center outdoor play space and make it difficult for your child to run, play and investigate the great outdoors. .

The safety of children and staff will be guarded in all activities of Little Critters Early Learning Center’s outdoor activities.

Transitions

Your child’s transition to and within Little Critters Early Learning Center should be a positive and exciting learning adventure. We will work with you and your child to ensure the smoothest possible transition occurs as new routines and new people are introduced.

Transition from home to center

Prior to your child’s first day, you will have an opportunity to tour the center, meet with your child’s peers and teachers, and communicate any anticipated concerns. At this time please share the best communication methods that the teacher may use to reach you.

Transition between learning programs

Children are transitioned to the next classroom based on age, developmental readiness, state licensing requirements, and space availability. During the transition, current and future teachers will meet with you to propose a plan to introduce your child into the new program.

Transition to Kindergarten

Transition activities such as reading stories about kindergarten, Visiting Little Critters Early Learning Center’s alumni visit’s to share their experience, creating a “special friends and special times” memory book to keep, will be part of your child’s education at our center. We will provide you with information on local schools, what to expect, and ideas on how to talk to your child about going to elementary school. 

Electronic Media

Our normal daily routine does not include electronic media (television/TV, video, DVD) viewing and computer use but from time-to-time, we may use a television show without advertisements as a teaching aid and discussion stimulator. All Electronic Media will be screened prior to use and will consist of non-violent and high-quality educational material. Our focus is to provide your child a positive experience with increased understanding of the world. Electronic Media will be offered only as a “rainy day choice”, used to meet a developmental goal, and limited to no more than 30 minutes per week per child.

Multiculturalism

Multiculturalism is vital for all children because it sets social goals and promotes respect for all people and the environment we inhabit. We utilize books, music, games, and a wide range of activities as aids to teach our children respect for our world and the diversity of life upon it.

Celebrations

Our holiday policy encourages an enhanced understanding of and respect for different cultures and beliefs of children, families, staff and community. These celebrations will be reflective of the families & children in our care. Family contributions of holiday celebrations and customs appreciated.

Rest Time

Infants sleep according to their own schedule and are put to sleep on their backs. Caregivers/teachers directly observe infants by sight and sound at all times and check on sleeping infants every 5 minutes

After lunch, all children less than 5 years of age, participate in a quiet rest time. Children are not required to sleep and may be given quiet activities. For children who do not want to rest, a space and time for quiet play will be made available.

Always place your baby on his or her back to sleep, for naps and at night, to reduce the risk of SIDS. Use a firm sleep surface, covered by a fitted sheet, to reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death.

Toilet Training

The most important factor in making the toilet learning experience successful and as low-stress as possible is a family/teacher partnership that supports the child. Research indicates that children cannot successfully learn how to use the toilet until they are physically, psychologically, and emotionally ready. Many pediatricians say that most children under 24 months of age are not physically capable of regulating bladder and bowel muscles. Most positive toilet training occurs only after children show signs of physical control or awareness of their bodily functions and when they demonstrate an interest or curiosity in the process. We are committed to working with you to make sure that toilet learning is carried out in a manner that is consistent with your child’s physical and emotional abilities and your family’s concerns.

Guidance

Conflict Resolution

Little Critters Early Learning Center is committed to each student and their family members. However, there are times that conflict will arises and needs to be dealt with in a professional manner.  The policy is; any issues that a family member has with staff and or another parent ideally will come to the Director’s attention so that she might aid in a fair resolution.  Hearing both sides– problem solving and mediation is LCELC conflict resolution policy.

General Procedure

Little Critters Early Learning Center is committed to each student’s success in learning within a caring, responsive, and safe environment that is free of discrimination, violence, and bullying. Our center works to ensure that all students have the opportunity and support to develop to their fullest potential and share a personal and meaningful bond with people in the school community.

Thoughtful direction and planning ahead are used to prevent problems and encourage appropriate behavior. Communicating consistent, clear rules and involving children in problem solving help children develop their ability to become self-disciplined. We encourage children to be fair, to be respectful of other people, of property, and to learn to understand the results of their actions.

Discipline Policy

We have created a discipline policy that reflects our philosophy of positive guidance with children. A copy of the discipline policy is included in your enrollment package for you to review and sign.

Challenging Behavior

Children are guided to treat each other and adults with self-control and kindness.

Each student at Little Critters Early Learning Center has a right to:

When a child becomes verbally or physically aggressive, we intervene immediately to protect all of the children. Our usual approach to helping children with challenging behaviors is to show them how to solve problems using appropriate interactions. When discipline is necessary, it is clear, consistent and understandable to the child. We maintain a zero tolerance to bullying. If you have any concerns about this at any time, please report it to the Director of the Center.

Physical Restraint

Physical restraint is not used or permitted for discipline. There are rare instances when we need to ensure a child’s safety or that of others and we may restrain a child by gently holding her or him only for as long as is necessary for control of the situation. If this technique is used, an incident report will be completed same day,  you will receive a copy and be contacted by Brightwheel and or the phone. .

Notification of Behavioral Issues to Families

If a child’s behavior/circumstance is of concern, communication will begin with the parents as the first step to understanding the child’s individual needs and challenges. We will work together to evaluate these needs in the context of our program.

On rare occasions, a child’s behavior may warrant the need to find a more suitable setting for care. Examples of such instances include:

Tuition and Fees

Rates

$320 Full-time 25-50 hours per week

$220 Part-time 24.9 hours or less per week

School Age Summer Camp Rate

$140 Full- Time 25-50 hours per week

$100 Part-Time 24.9 hours or less per week

Payment

Payment is always due in advance with no deduction for any absences, holidays, or closures due to inclement weather, power outages, or other situations beyond our control. Payment is due weekly by 6:00 PM on every other Friday, as outlined in the Enrollment Agreement. Fees are subject to change.

Late Payment Charges

Late payments can pose serious problems for our programs. Therefore we have put procedures in place to reduce their impact.

If payment is not received on the day that it is due, a late fee of $5.00 will be added to your next tuition payment for each day that it is late. If your account has not been paid in full within 5 business days, your child may be discharged from the program.

Any payments made will be applied to the oldest charges and late fees may still apply if the account is not paid in full by the next tuition due date.

If payment is more than ten business days past due, we may attempt to recover payment in small claims court and/or your account may be sent to a 3rd party collections agency. You will be responsible for all expenses associated with these actions including all court and attorney fees. As well as a hold being placed on your childcare authorization with ODJFS; if applicable.

Rejected Transaction Charges

All rejected ACH (automatic debits) or credit card transactions will be charged a fee of $35.00. This charge may be collected electronically. Two or more returned checks or rejected transactions will result in your account being placed on “cash only” status.

Late Pick-up Fees

Late pick-up is not a normal program option and will only be considered as an exceptional occurrence. Late fees of $5.00 per minute will be assessed beginning at 6:00 PM and will be due upon arrival. 

Special Activity Fees

From time-to-time there will be additional fees associated with special activities or field trips. These fees are due prior to the event or activity.

Additional Fees/ Credits

Credits & No Credits

Attendance & Withdrawal

Absence

If your child is going to be absent or arrive after 9:00 AM, please call us at 216-252-2600. We will be concerned about your child if we do not hear from you.

Vacation

While we recognize the value of family vacations, the center does not provide credit for vacation days.

Withdrawal

A written notice, two weeks in advance, is required by the center when a child is being withdrawn. Failure to notify will result in forfeiture of your two-week deposit.

Transfer of Records

Whether transitioning to the next age classroom, your child’s records will be transferred internally.

If your child is transitioning to a new school, a written request from you with instructions to where the records should be sent is required.

Closing Due to Extreme Weather

Should severe weather or other conditions (i.e., snow, storms, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, blizzards, loss of power, loss of water) prevent us from opening on time or at all, notification to the families will be announced on Facebook.

If it becomes necessary to close early, we will contact you or your emergency contacts as soon as possible. Your child’s early pick-up is your responsibility to arrange.

Drop-off and Pick-up

General Procedure

We open at 5:00 AM. Please do not drop-off your child prior to the opening. Parents are expected to accompany their children into the building, sign/swipe them in and walk them to their classroom. ALL families must adhere to their contracted times for the sake of ratio.

We close at 6:00 PM. Please allow enough time to arrive, gather your child’s belongings, sign/swipe your child out, ask any and all questions/concerns you may have and exit by closing time.

Cell Phone Usage

The times you spend in the center dropping off and picking up your child are the primary windows of time we have to communicate with you about your child. In order to make the best use of these opportunities, as well as to be attentive to your child and other children, we ask that you NOT use your cell phone at any time while visiting the center.

Authorized & Unauthorized Pick-up

Your child will only be released to you or those persons you have listed as Emergency and Release Contacts/ Brightwheel. If you want a person who is not identified as an Emergency and Release Contact to pick-up your child, you must notify us in advance, in writing. Your child will not be released without prior written authorization. The person picking up your child will be required to show a picture ID as verification. Please notify your pick-up person of our policy.

In order to safeguard your child, we will need copies of any court ordered custody agreements. Without a custody agreement, we are not able to prevent the release of your child to a parent.

If a child has not been picked up after closing and we have not heard from you, attempts will be made to contact you, and the contacts listed as Emergency and Release Contacts. Provisions will be made for someone to stay with your child as long as possible, but if after one hour we have not been able to reach you or a person listed as an Emergency and Release Contact, we will call the local child protective services agency.

Right to Refuse Child Release

We may refuse to release children if we have reasonable cause to suspect that any person picking up a child is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or is physically or emotionally impaired in any way that may endanger the child. To protect your child, we may request that another adult listed as an Emergency and Release Contact pick-up the child or we may call the police to prevent potential harm to your child. Recurring situations may result in the release of your child from the program.

Personal Belongings

What to Bring

Please label all items brought from home with your child’s name (i.e., clothes, bottles, diapers, pacifiers, blanket, etc.) to prevent items from becoming misplaced or lost. We are not responsible for lost or damaged items. Soiled clothing will be sent home on an as-needed basis for laundering and need to be returned to the center.

Cubbies

Upon enrollment each child will be assigned a “cubby and coat hook.”  Cubbies are labeled with your child’s name. Please check your child’s cubby on a daily basis for items that need to be taken home.

Lost & Found

You can look for lost items and bring found items to the Lost-and-found Box located at the parents sign in station – lower shelf. Please note that we are not responsible for lost personal property.

Toys from Home

We request that you do not allow your child to bring toys from home into the center unless they are part of a show-and-tell activity.

Little Critters Early Learning Center’s Policy regarding items from home: Items from home are only to enter our facility in a zip lock bag such as extra clothes.  Our attempt to avoid bedbugs.

Nutrition

Foods Brought from Home

 Do to allergies and that we provide ALL nutritious meals and snacks.  We request that you do not bring ANY food from outside, into our center.

Food Prepared at Little Critters Early Learning Center

Food prepared for or at Little Critters Early Learning Center will be properly planned, prepared and portioned according to the Child and Adult Care Food Program that Little Critters Early Learning Center is a sponsor (http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/care/) and the state requirements for food service.

Meal Times

BREAKFAST 9:00 AM                LUNCH 12:00 PM              SNACK  3:00 PM                                                  

Food Allergies

If your child has a food allergy, you must notify us in writing so that we can make appropriate substitutions. The written notification should list appropriate food substitutions and must be updated at least annually.

Food allergies can be life threatening and each child with a food allergy should have an action plan for emergency care completed by the family physician.

Meal Time

At meal time the dining table is set with real cups, bowls, plates and flatware Everyone sits at the same table. Good table manners are modeled and encouraged. Weekly menus are posted for viewing by parents/caregivers.

A caregiver who is trained in CPR &  first-aid for choking is present at all meals.

Infant Feedings

Infant feedings follow these procedures:

Children 24 Months and Older

*** Diaper Changes every 2 hours minimal

Health

Immunizations

Immunizations are required according to the current schedule recommended by the U.S. Public Health Services and the American Academy of Pediatrics, www.aap.org. Every January, we check with the public health department or the American Academy of Pediatrics for updates of the recommended immunization schedule. Our state regulations regarding attendance of children who are not immunized due to religious or medical reasons are followed. Unimmunized children are excluded during outbreaks of vaccine preventable illness as directed by the state health department. Little Critters Early Learning Center’s position on this matter is as follows: We require that all children that attend our facilities are up to date on all recommended immunizations for their age, and a copy of an immunization record be provided to Little Critters ELC minimally 24 hours BEFORE child start date. We do NOT except ANY exemptions for ANY reason. All caregivers, teachers, and staff are required to be current with all immunizations routinely recommended for adults by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Physicals

Routine physicals are required according to the current recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, www.aap.org. A copy of your child’s physical should be received before your child begins the program. Families are responsible for ensuring that their child’s physicals are kept up-to-date and that a copy of the results of the child’s health assessment is given to the program.

Illness

We understand that it is difficult for a family member to leave or miss work, but to protect other children; you may not bring a sick child to the center. The center has the right to refuse a child who appears ill. You will be called and asked to retrieve your child if your child exhibits any of the following symptoms. This is not an all-inclusive list. We will try to keep your child comfortable but he/she will be excluded from all activities until you arrive.

Children who have been ill may return when:

Allergy Prevention

Families are expected to notify us regarding children’s food and environmental allergies. Families of children with diagnosed allergies are required to provide us a letter detailing the child’s symptoms, reactions, treatments and care. A list of the children’s allergies will be posted in the main area and kitchen. We are trained to familiarize ourselves and consult the list to avoid the potential of exposing children to substances to which they have known allergies.

Medications

      All medications should be handed only to the Director with specific written instructions for administration. Medications should never be left in the child’s cubby or with the child to administer on their own. Our staff will ensure that the medication is recorded along with the directions and proceed to dispense the medication as directed.

(C) Non-prescription topical ointments (e.g., diaper cream or teething gel), sunscreen and insect repellant require a note signed by the family, specifying frequency and dosage to be administered as well as the length of time the authorization is valid which cannot exceed 12 months.

Communicable Diseases

When an enrolled child or an employee of the center has a (suspected) reportable disease, it is our legal responsibility to notify the local Board of Health or Department of Public Health. We will take care to notify families about exposure so children can receive preventive treatments. Included among the reportable illnesses are the following:

Safety

Clothing

Please dress your child in practical clothing that allows for freedom of movement and is appropriate for the weather. Your child will be involved in a variety of activities including: painting, outdoor play, sand, weather, and other sensory activities. Our playground is used as an extension of the center, and daily programs are conducted outside whenever weather permits.

One particular aspect of concern is the risk associated with children’s clothing that may become entangled with climbing or sliding equipment that could lead to choking or other serious harm. All drawstrings from children’s clothes should be removed as a precaution.

No Sandals and flip-flops are not appropriate for center play and make it difficult for your child to participate in some activities.

Extreme Weather and Outdoor Play

We play outdoors daily with the exception of the following conditions if the outside temperature is greater than 99 °F or less than 32 °F degrees. Additionally, outdoor play will be cancelled if the air quality rating is 130 or below.

Communal Water-Play

Communal, unsupervised water play is prohibited. Supervised children are permitted to engage in water-play. Precautions: water is changed daily, to ensure that communal water-play does not spread communicable infectious disease.

Injuries

Safety is a major concern at Little Critters Early Learning Center and so daily safety inspections are completed inside and outside the center area in order to prevent injuries. First aid will be administered by a trained caregiver in the event that your child sustains a minor injury (e.g., scraped knee). You will receive an incident report outlining the incident and course of action taken. If the injury produces any type of swelling or needs medical attention, you will be contacted immediately. Each classroom is equipped with a first aid kit meeting the state regulations.

In the event of a serious medical emergency, the child will be taken to the hospital immediately by ambulance, while we will try to contact you or an emergency contact.

Biting

Biting is a normal stage of development that is common among infants and toddlers – and sometimes even among preschoolers. It is something that most young children will try at least once.

When biting happens, our response will be to care for and help the child who was bitten and to help the biter learn a more appropriate behavior. Our focus will not be on punishment for biting, but on effective behaviors that address the specific reason for biting.

Notes will be written to the family of the child who was bitten and the biter’s family. We will work together with the families of each to keep them informed and to develop strategies for change.

Respectful Behavior

All children and families will be treated with respect and dignity. In return, we expect the same from all of our families. We will not tolerate hostile or aggressive behavior. If this occurs, we reserve the right to ask you to control your behavior or to remove your children from our care.

Smoking

The poisons in secondhand smoke are especially harmful to infants and young children’s developing bodies, therefore the indoor environment is non-smoking at all times. The use of tobacco in any form is prohibited in the center.

Prohibited Substances

The use of alcohol or illegal drugs is prohibited on the center’s premises. Possession of illegal substances or unauthorized potentially toxic substances is prohibited.

Any adult who appears to be inebriated, intoxicated, or otherwise under the influence of mind-altering or polluting substances is required to leave the premises immediately.

Dangerous Weapons

A dangerous weapon is a gun, knife, razor, or any other object, which by the manner it is used or intended to be used, is capable of inflicting bodily harm. Families, children, staff or guests (other than law enforcement officers) possessing a dangerous weapon will not be permitted onto the premises.

Any use of threat regarding “Dangerous weapons” will not be tolerated at Little Critters Early Learning Center.  Cause for immediate expulsion: Voids contract.

In cases that clearly involve a gun, or any other weapon on our premises, the police will be called and the individual(s) involved will be immediately removed from the premises. This policy applies to visible or concealed weapons.

Child Custody

Without a court document, both parents/guardians have equal rights to custody. We are legally bound to respect the wishes of the parent/guardian with legal custody based on a certified copy of the most recent court order, active restraining order, or court-ordered visitation schedule. We will not accept the responsibility of deciding which parent/guardian has legal custody where there is no court documentation.

Suspected Child Abuse

We are required by law to report all observations of child abuse or neglect cases to the appropriate state authorities if we have reasonable cause to believe or suspect a child is suffering from abuse or neglect or is in danger of abuse or neglect, no matter where the abuse might have occurred. The child protective service agency will determine appropriate action and may conduct an investigation. It then becomes the role of the agency to determine if the report is substantiated and to work with the family to ensure the child’s needs are met. Our center will cooperate fully with any investigation and will maintain confidentiality concerning any report of child abuse or neglect.

Emergencies

Lost or Missing Child

In the unlikely event that a child becomes lost or separated from a group, all available staff will search for the child. If the child is not located within 5 minutes, the family and the police will be notified.

Fire Safety

Our center is fully equipped with Fire alarm system, rolling cribs, fire pulls at each exterior door, fire extinguishers at each exterior door, Ansel system above stove in kitchen, yearly fire equipment inspections and Fire Marshal inspection as well as monthly fire drills.

Our fire evacuation plan is reviewed with the children and staff on a monthly basis.

Emergency Transportation

In the event your child needs to be transported due to a medical emergency, if no other authorized person can be contacted and the need for transportation is essential, an ambulance will be called for transportation. A proper escort will accompany and remain with the child until a family member or emergency contact arrives. If you are NOT in agreeance with this policy Little Critters ELC cannot provide care for your child with good conscience.

Center Policies

Our center policies are reviewed yearly and updated as needed.


Family Handbook Acknowledgement

Please sign this acknowledgement, detach it from the handbook, and return it to the center prior to enrollment.

This handbook may be updated from time-to-time, and notice will be provided as updates are implemented.

Thank you for your acknowledging the policies and procedures we have established for the safety and welfare of all children in our care. We look forward to getting to know you and your family.

I have received the Little Critters Early Learning Center Family Handbook, and I have reviewed the family handbook with a member of the Little Critters Early Learning Center staff. It is my responsibility to understand and familiarize myself the Family Handbook and to ask center management for clarification of any policy, procedure or information contained in the Little Critters Early Learning Center Family Handbook that I do not understand.

Recipient Signature

Date

Center Staff Signature

Date


Family Activities

We offer a variety of ways for families to participate in the growth and improvement of our program. We encourage families to take an active role.

Advisors:

Family Events:  We have several events throughout the year that bring our entire community together. Watch for the announcements!

Classroom Activities: Enjoy and help your child’s class with these special activities.

Family/Parent Workshops: Our menu of family workshops changes annually. Below is a list of workshops we typically offer. We try to offer these in the early evening or on Saturdays. See the monthly calendar for scheduled topics. We welcome requests for workshop topics.


Thank you for choosing Little Critters Early Learning Center for your child.  

May your day’s be filled with smiles and happiness

Sincerely,

Brenda Dillingham & Staff

LCELC  2019