Happy Hands Early Learning Academy's Parent Handbook

   

Welcome to Happy Hands Early Learning Academy!

For a better understanding between parents and myself, I have created this handbook. It covers all my goals, policies and expectations. Please read this handbook carefully, and feel free to ask me any questions you may have. You are responsible for knowing these policies as signed in your contract.

About Me:
I'm Cathy Meekins (aka Miss Cathy), a licensed family child care provider through the state of Colorado since 2001, and certified preschool teacher. I've been a family child care provider since November of 1999 when I was licensed on Andrews Air Force base in Maryland. In February of 2009 I obtained my Colorado Experienced Family Child Care license, which licensed me for up to eight fulltime children. I closed my child care license in 2010 and after realizing I just couldn't stay away, was re licensed again in 2012. I have completed all licensing requirements, including First Aid and CPR Certification, medication administration, and universal precautions, plus numerous other training since first becoming licensed. My home has been inspected by a Colorado licensing specialist. I am also a former military provider, and was with the Air Force for nine years. I currently hold a Large Day Care Home license, which allows me to have up to 12 children in my care (with an assistant once the 9th child arrives). I participate in the USDA Food Program through Wildwood. I'm a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), and the National Association of Family Child Care Providers (NAFCC). I’m a certified Advanced Instructor with the Signing Time Academy, and pass my love of American Sign Language on to the preschoolers in my classroom. I currently hold a directors certificate as well as a preschool teacher certificate through Pikes Peak Community College, and a Child Development Associate Credential (CDA). My husband, Rob, and I have been married since 1992 and have two children. Robin was born in 1993 and Randy in 1995. I'm originally from Michigan and Rob's from North Carolina. He was in the Air Force (now retired) and we've been to five different states and Panama together. I love working with children and have loved being able to be home with my children as well. I feel child care keeps me young (most days!) and also keeps me from having a dozen more children of my own! I truly enjoy working with your children and having the opportunity to make a difference in their lives.


My Preschool goals:
It is my goal to provide your child(ren) with a warm, healthy and happy home preschool environment. Promoting children's self-esteem is one of the primary goals of my preschool. My approach on teaching children includes encouraging them in problem solving, whether it is resolving a problem or just figuring out how a puzzle fits together. Learning positive social skills and how to effectively communicate are important skills taught in my preschool. Creativity is an important role of my environment. Since play is one of the most important ways that children learn, play experiences will be an essential part of your child's day in my preschool. I strive to have a Developmentally Appropriate classroom. We do have a schedule, but it is very flexible and children are never forced to participate in any activity.

Communication:
Open communication between parents and me is extremely important. I cannot correct a problem I don't know about. I welcome questions, feedback, or discussions of any kind that are oriented towards a positive outcome for the child(ren). Sensitive issues will be discussed in private outside of regular school hours either by telephone or a personal meeting. I'm always available through email or text (texting is the quickest way to get in touch with me). Please make sure you have my contact information stored in your cell phone.

Enrollment Policy:
There are several forms that need to be completed and returned to me at least 24 hours before your child can begin preschool. Forms will need to be updated annually or sooner if needed. The forms are as follows:

-Signed Child Enrollment Form
-Signed Contract
-Basic Health Care/Travel/Photo
-Verification of immunizations (to be filled out by doctor's office)
-Health statement (to be filled out by doctor's office)
-Child questionnaire (to help me get to know your child)
-USDA Enrollment Form (to be signed once enrolled)

Trial Period:
Your child's adjustment is very important to me. The first two weeks of your child's enrollment will be considered the trial period. Either the parents or I may withdraw at any time during this period. At the end of this period if there are still any problems we will discuss them and how your child has adjusted to the new setting, realizing that this varies from child to child. After this period one month’s written notice is required to terminate that agreement.

Fees And Payments:
Your child’s preschool tuition is due monthly no later than the 5th of each month. Invoices will be automatically sent by the 28th of the previous month.
Tuition that is paid in advance (for several months or yearly if you so choose) is NOT refundable if you choose to dis-enroll your child.
Payments can be made in the form of cash, check or electronic payment through ChildCarePay. Please make checks out to Cathy Meekins or Happy Hands. However, should a check not clear there will be an additional fee of $35 and all future payments must be made in cash. This includes electronic payments. If payment is more than three calendar days late (by the 8th of the month) there will be a $10 per day late fee and your child will not be able to return until their tuition is paid in full, including late fees. If payment is not received within 5 days I may terminate services without notice and you will forfeit your deposit, and if there is a balance remaining it will be turned over to collections. Receipts are given upon request with a year to date running total, and an end of year statement is given by January 31st.

Activity Fee:
A $50 activity fee is due by the first day of preschool for each child. This fee will be prorated for children enrolled at other times. This amount is used solely to help cover costs for upgrading, replacing, and enhancing curriculum activities/play equipment.

Tuition:
Preschool: $24 a day

Preschool hours are from 8:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. A morning snack is included.
Monthly payments are based on total number of school days for the year (based on how many days a week your child is scheduled to come), and then divided by 10 months. This way, monthly payments will be the same each month, regardless of the number of actually preschool days that particular month.
FOR THE 2017-2018 SCHOOL YEAR TUITION WILL BE AS FOLLOWS:
Monday-Thursday (four days a week, total of 136 days): $327 a month
Monday/Wednesday (two days a week, total of 67 days): $161 a month
Tuesday/Thursday (two days a week, total of 69 days): $166 a month

Deposit:
All families enrolling in Happy Hands Early Learning Academy will be required to pay a fee equal to one full month for preschoolers upon enrollment (based on number of days enrolled). This fee in non-refundable. This fee will be applied to the child’s first month of preschool. If you have any questions or concerns or would like to work out a payment schedule please let me know. Space will not be held without a paid deposit.

Hours Of Operation:
Happy Hands Early Learning Academy is a morning only preschool program. Hours of operation are 8am-12pm, Monday through Thursday for children ages 3-5 (not yet enrolled in kindergarten) years old. If you drop off or pick up your child before or after your scheduled hours, you will be charged additional/late fees. I will charge an overtime rate of $1 per minute that you are late past your scheduled pick up time, unless it is prearranged. Then the late fee will be $5 per quarter hour (or portion thereof). This late fee is per child. This is to assure children are picked up on time. Early drop offs may be arraigned at a rate of $5 per quarter hour (or portion thereof). Late drop off does not constitute late pick up.

If a child is in care after regular business hours unexpectedly, every attempt will be made to contact the parents/guardians and the emergency contacts. If none can be contacted within an hour of my normal closing time, authorities (DSS or local police) may be contacted. Late fees will apply and termination may occur.
SNOW DAYS: Happy Hands Early Learning Academy will follow District 49’s delays and closures for snow days. If D49 is delayed or closed for weather, there will be no preschool.

Persons Authorized to pick up:
You must list those you wish to pick up your children on the Enrollment Form. ONLY those listed, beside the parents/guardians listed on the contract, will be allowed to pick up your child. Please make sure they are at least 16 years of age and have a photo ID, and that they have proper transportation (appropriate car seat).

Holidays/Vacations:
My vacations will coincide with school breaks. In case of emergency that I need to close for, tuition will not be charged to you. I will give as much notice as possible if I need to close for whatever reason. When you take vacation you will be charged your regular tuition to reserve your spot. Please give a reasonable notice as to when you will be on vacation.

Preschool follows the District 49 schedule for breaks for fall, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Spring breaks. Please refer to your school calendar.

 

HOLDING SPACES:
Full tuition is to be paid to hold children's space. I will not hold spots without payment. If you choose to take time off and not pay for it, I will contact the next family on my waiting list and your child's spot will not be guaranteed when you return.

Arrival And Departure:
We have only four hours of preschool each day, so please be on time. Please drop your child off between 8:30-8:40am as we will start promptly. Please do not drop off early! The door will NOT be open before 8:30am. Pickup will begin at 11:50 and must be made by 12:00pm or late fees will begin. Parents must accompany their child in upon arrival and departure and be signed in and out each day. Please make drop offs and pick ups brief. If you’d like to discuss something, we can schedule a conference.

Absences:
Please let me know if your child will be late or absent. If your child is absent, but scheduled to be here, full tuition still applies.

Medication:
I cannot administer any medication, including over the counter medication such as pain relievers, cold medicine or even cough drops, without a doctor's signed authorization and parent's signature. For all medication, parents must provide written instructions which must be completed by the doctor's office including the name of the medication, the dosage, the time(s) it is to be given, and the physician's signature. I have a form for this and each family should keep a copy in their glove box to have handy in case it's needed. All medication must be provided in the original container in which it was prescribed.

Because children are only present four hours a day, I will not administer any medication except for emergency medications, such as allergy meds/epi pen if needed.

Immunizations:
Happy Hands Early Learning Academy does accept children of families who choose not to immunize their children, and respects their choice. However, according to regulations if an illness is in my child care home that a child has not been immunized for, that child will need to be excluded from care until that illness has cleared (payment will be expected for any time absent). My family and I are current on all immunizations. I choose however, not to be immunized for influenza.

Illness:
It should go without saying, but PLEASE do not bring your sick child to preschool. Under no circumstances will parents be allowed to bring a sick child to my home. Sick children expose other children, as well as my family, to the spread of their illness and myself and require additional care and attention that I am unable to give.
The following illness policies will be strictly enforced, for the health, wellbeing and safety of all concerned. SYMPTOMS OR ILLNESSES REQUIRING REMOVAL OF CHILD FROM PRESCHOOL: 
* Fever (100.4 or higher) 
* nausea or vomiting
* diarrhea (more than 2 watery stools or if accompanied by other symptoms) 
* sore throat
* runny nose with colored discharge
* runny and/or crusty eyes
* unexplained rash
* excessive crankiness
* lice or any communicable diseases, such as chicken pox, roseola, conjunctivitis (pink eye), mumps, measles, influenza, etc.

Children must be free of the previously listed symptoms for 24 hours without the aid of fever reducing or symptomatic medication before they will be accepted back into my care. You may NOT “Dose and Drop”, meaning give your child over the counter medications to mask his or her symptoms, and then drop off at preschool. THIS WILL BE STRICKLY ENFORCED. If you are unable to remain home with your sick child it will be necessary for you to make arrangements for substitute care at your own expense. If your child becomes ill while in my care, I will notify you immediately. You are required to pick up your child within 60 minutes of notification. If you cannot be reached then your emergency contact will be called. If your child is too sick to participate in normal daily activities such as outdoor play, then they are too sick to be at preschool. 
Abuse of this illness policy may result in immediate termination with no refund of deposit.


Provider Sick or Personal Leave:
Although I will try to be available for preschool each day, the illness policy applies to me as well. If any of the above symptoms (listed above in Illnesses) are present I will contact you as soon as possible. It is your responsibility to obtain substitute care on such days if needed. I try my best to schedule appointments outside of preschool hours or on Fridays, but sometimes that is just not possible. In the event that I have appointments I will give you as much notice as possible.


Meals:
During preschool hours, a morning snack will be served at 9:45am. Children are never forced to eat, but will be encouraged to try everything. If your child has a food allergy and I can make accommodations, I will. If however, I cannot, you will need to supply your child's food each day. Snack menus are posted on the main bulletin board and copies are available upon request. These menus are on a six week cycle and are subject to change on short notice. Please do not send additional food with your child. Special treats are allowed with prior approval. Please make sure your child has had breakfast before arriving in the morning.

Supplies:
I provider all materials needed for a rich and fun-filled day. Parents will need to supply the following, clearly marked with their child's name:

* diapers and wipes, if needed
* diaper cream and/or lotion 
* a change of clothing to be left here for all children, regardless of age (even older children can have accidents or spill something on themselves) 

If you chose to, you may leave your child's supplies here and I will let you know when they're running low. If you chose to not leave a supply of diapers or wipes here, please make sure your child will have enough for the entire day. Please do not send food with your child unless it is a special occasion and you have asked me ahead of time, or your child has a special dietary need. Candy, gum, cough drops, and dangerous or violent toys will not be allowed. I am not responsible for any items brought into my home.

I will always accept (and appreciate) additional supplies, such as tissue, wipes, art and craft supplies, etc.
Please apply sunscreen daily to your child before drop off.

Toilet Learning:
I do not require preschool children to be potty trained. That is something they can learn while here. To make the process easier, here are a few tips. Please make sure to dress your child in appropriate clothing to help in this process. Try to avoid really tight clothing, shirts that snap in the crotch, jumpers and pants with snaps and zippers or anything that is not easily removed. During toilet training I ask that you supply me with at least two extra full changes of clothing, including socks. Soiled clothes will be returned in a plastic bag at pick up time. A child is ready to toilet train when he or she shows interest in the toilet and demonstrates mental and physical understanding and competency of the process. Potty training is a huge milestone, and I will be an advocate for the child to help prepare them for this stage as well as during the toilet training process. Pull ups may be brought in at any point to help with this.

When a child is ready for underwear, I will set up a plan with the parent/guardian to begin wearing them while at preschool. Accidents are expected during this period as a normal part of development. However, if a child has two accidents in one day, I will put the child back into a diaper/pull up for the remainder of the day. If this goes on for three days, we will reevaluate the child's readiness and wait until the child can be more successful in underwear.

Termination:
After the initial two week trial period, one calendar month’s written notice is required by either the parents or me to terminate care. Payment is due for this time whether your child attends or not. Care will be terminated immediately because of non-payment, continued non-compliance of policies or any other breach of contract. In the case of immediate termination there will be no refund of tuition. If at the time of termination any fees are owed, if they are not paid within one calendar week the remaining bill will be turned over to collections.

Daily Schedule:
Our daily schedule is posted on the bulletin board and a copy is available for you upon request. We are very flexible and I let the children lead. If they are very engrossed in an activity and it's not absolutely necessary to move on we will deviate from the written schedule. We do try to do things around the same time each day, though, for continuity so the children know what to expect.

Toys:
I have plenty of toys and educational materials here. Please keep your child's toys at home or have them leave them in the car. Sometimes it's hard for children to share their things and when a new and different toy is brought into my home most everyone wants to play with it. 

Open Door Policy:
I have what's called an open door policy in my preschool. What that means is when your child is in my care, my door is always open to you. That does NOT mean it will always be unlocked. For the safety of the children and myself I do frequently lock the front door. (text me if you arrive and it is locked) Please feel free to drop in and check on your child at any time, however keep in mind some children will expect to leave with you if you do this. Also, there may be times when it's inconvenient for me to run to the phone (such as diaper changes, playing outside, etc). If the phone goes unanswered, please do not become alarmed. Simply leave me a message and I will call you back as soon as I am able. You can also try my cell number in case we are out and about.

Outdoor Play:
We will try to spend time outside every day, weather permitting. We will not go out it it's raining or extremely cold or wet. If your child isn't feeling well enough to play with the other kids or go outside then your child is too sick to be in child care that day. Please make sure your child is dressed appropriately for the weather, including appropriate shoes. Colorado weather can be unpredictable. It can also change drastically through the course of the day. In the winter children will need coats, snow pants, mittens, scarves, boots and hats. I will NOT have these items for them. My own children have long since outgrown most sizes needed for your children. It's always best to dress them in layers, so if they get warm we can take a layer off. Children will also need sunscreen (SPF 30, minimum) year round, which must be applied before drop off in the morning.


Travel:
Children in my care will need a signed travel authorization for the occasionally trip to the park or other walking field trips. I do not transport children in my car. Parents agree to pay any fees involved in field trips, and are always welcome to attend. You will be notified of any scheduled trips in advance, and will need to sign a permission slip.

Discipline:
It is my policy to teach children to follow rules by using non-physical disciplinary action. Positive guidance is used to help children gain self-control and take responsibility for their own behavior. Please keep in mind that there will be disagreements between children. Young children especially, who are not good at communication, have a hard time expressing themselves. Sometimes they hit or throw toys, etc. Although teaching children appropriate behavior is what I will be doing, remember that this behavior is normal in most cases. My guidance and discipline is preventative-not punishing. There will be no physical discipline. My discipline method of choice is Conscious Discipline (www.consciousdiscipline.com). Methods of discipline may include:

Redirection of the child's behavior: Removing the child from the situation.

Removal of Toys: If children are playing inappropriately with a toy or arguing over toys, I may take these toys away from the children to prevent someone getting hurt or the argument from escalating.

Time Out: Time out is used as a last resort or for violent behavior (hitting, kicking, biting, etc.). Time out will be no more than one minute per child's age (ie: a 3 year old would have a time out of no more than 3 minutes).

Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES will there be any spanking, physical abuse, verbal abuse, name-calling or isolation used. Food will never be withheld from children as a means of punishment.

If I feel there is a chronic behavioral issue that needs attention, I will let you know so that you and I are handling it in the same way and your child has continuity in discipline between our homes. These types of behaviors might include such things as biting, use of bad words, chronic hitting, etc. Together we will try to find a solution. You may be called to remove your child if his or her behavior prevents me from being able to properly care for the other children. If the problem continues, other arrangements for the care of the child will have to be made, for the safety and wellbeing of all. Incident reports are used to track behavior if needed.

Children are never punished for lapses in toilet training or for accidents (spilled milk, for example). Instead, I will have the child help clean up if possible, not for punishment, but to help teach responsibility.

Media Usage:
Television is extremely limited here at preschool. We just don’t have a lot of extra time for it. All television shows or videos will be age appropriate and educational. Viewing time is limited to a maximum of thirty minutes a day. We also listen to music, either using Children's CD's, Pandora (children's stations), or a local Christian radio station. Each child will have an account on ABC Mouse and have access to that via a tablet here, limited to 15 minutes daily. You may also access their account at home.
On very rare occasions we MAY watch a children’s movie. You will be notified in advance if this is to happen, and what the movie will be. (This may be a special event, such as a pajama and movie day.)

Destruction of Property:
While I do expect a certain amount of normal wear and tear, parents will be held responsible for any willful destruction your child causes to my home, toys, equipment, car or anything else in my family child care home. Continued destructiveness may result in termination of care.

Children's Safety While in Care:
Your child's safety is my number one concern. I tell the children it is MY job to keep them safe. It is THEIR job to help us keep it that way. While in my preschool it will be my highest priority. Some ways that I will do that include, but are not limited to:
Protecting the children from second hand smoke-smoking is NOT allowed on my property at ANY time. If you must smoke, please do so on the side walk well away from my home. 
All medications are stored safely out of reach of children and in locked containers. This includes any prescription or over the counter medications for either the children in my care or my family, in compliance with state regulations. 
Sunscreen is a must in Colorado. All children will need sunscreen applied daily before drop off. (SPF of 30 or above)
In the event of an emergency, we will react in the appropriate method, i.e. if there's a tornado warning, we will go down to the basement. In the event of a fire we will follow our fire evacuation plan. If there's a life threatening emergency 911 will be called. Etc. 
Toys and equipment is inspected regularly, including checking for recalls. I do not keep broken or recalled items unless they can be fixed and are not a safety hazard for the children or myself.

Pets:
Happy Hands Early Learning Academy loves animals! I do have pets in my home. At this time we have one cat and three dogs. All pets are current on all their vaccines, and are healthy and friendly. The animals are usually separated from the children, for both the children's and the animal's safety.

Americans with Disability Act/Special Needs:
Happy Hands Early Learning Academy does not discriminate against children with special needs, or based on race, religion, gender, or any other reason.

Adverse Weather Policy:
As you know, Colorado weather can change quickly, especially in the winter months. Both Hwy 24 and Woodmen Road have been closed in the past due to blizzard conditions. Please keep in this in mind when bringing your children to care, or planning pick up.
If there is a severe weather warning before morning drop off, such as a winter storm warning or a blizzard warning, Happy Hands Early Learning Academy will be closed, even if D49 is not. If a weather warning happens after children are already dropped off, you will be notified to pick up your child ASAP. If they are here after our regular preschool hours late fees will apply. All late fees must be paid the next business day children attend at drop off.
This shouldn’t be an issue because if weather is this bad, the local school district, and therefore our preschool, will be closed.
Filing a Complaint/Obtaining FCC Rules/Regs:
For filing for a complaint, including suspected child abuse, please use the following information:
1-800-799-5876
Or mail a letter to:
The division of child care
1575 Sherman St., First Floor
Denver, Co 80203-1714
You must include your name, phone number, the provider's name and address with the complaint. To obtain the rules of a child care, please go to the following website:

www.cdhs.state.co.us
To find the Secretary of State website, please go to the following website:

www.sos.state.co.us

Child Abuse/Negect:
As a licensed family child care provider, I am required by law to report any suspected signs of child abuse and/or neglect.

Records And Forms:
I must have all forms signed on or before your child's first day of school. You will be given a packet yearly to update all information. This Parent Handbook is valid through May 31st, 2018.

I reserve the right to update, change or add things to this policy book at any time. Parents will be provided with a written two week notice of changes to review before they go into effect, and will be required to sign and date a notification of change in their contract.

 

 

 

*This handbook was revised on January 27th, 2017 and supersedes all previous handbooks.*