Basic Information & Policies

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Attendance Policy & Procedure:
Children are expected to attend on a regular basis. The center requests that absences be phoned in each day. Parents must escort children to their assigned area and check in with a staff member in the child's class area.

Administration of Medication:
Prescriptions must be presented in the original containers with specific instructions for administration. Over the counter medications and items with active ingredients must be presented in the original container with written instructions from a licensed physician. The center cannot accept medications on an "as needed" basis. School age children need a Care Plan on file for the use of inhalers that they are allowed to keep on their person.

Car Seats:
Please see the Child Safety Restraint Guidelines for more information.

Child Abuse or Neglect:
The Administrator and each employee of the center is required. under Section 2151.421 of the Ohio Revised Code, ORC to report their suspicions of child abuse or child neglect to the local public childrens services agency. A phone number is available on the current posted license for reporting suspected violations of Chapter 5104, of the Revised Code or Chapter 5101:2-12 of the Administrative Code.

Closings:
Please see the Emergency Closing Policy.

Collaborations:
Participating with local agencies allows the center to provide a seamless system of support and services for the children and their families. The center is pleased to be associated with: Madison, Perry, Geneva, and Thompson Public Schools, Phillips-Osborne, Assumption and St. Mary's private schools, Lake-Geauga United Head Start, Crossroads Early Head Start, the Broadmoor School, Auburn Career Center, Kent State University, The Ohio State University, Lake Erie College, Lakeland Community College, and the Child Care Initiative which is provided through Crossroads.

Curriculum/Goals/Philosohpy/Methods:
The center utilizes the Ohio Department of Education preschool standards as well as the Performance Standards set forth for Head Start and the suggested processes of NAEYC Accreditation to plan appropriate activities each day.

The Center's curriculum is based on the educational philosophy and methods of Jean Piaget's theory of education and Erickson's stages of self-esteem. Piaget maintains that young children need to be respected at their various stages and that a feeling of self is only possible when the stages are completed in sequence.

The primary goals at Stepping Stones are to convey to the young child the value, challenge, and excitement of learning and to gain positive attitudes toward the learning process, teacher, and school. Use of the guidelines from The Reggio Approach to Education, encouraging input and involvement from the family, observation and interactions with the child, and early childhood developmental screenings to assist our teachers in planning activities that reflect the needs and interests of the individual child. The role of the adult is to help the child organize, define, and extend skills, knowledge, and experience. Although the atmosphere at the center appears informal, the environment is the result of careful planning and structuring to meet individual and group goals.

Days and Hours of Operations:
Full day programs for children age 6 weeks through first grade: 6:00 A.M. - 6:30 P.M., all year round. Pre-school inclusive.

Part day programs for children age 3 through 6 years:
Pre-K       Monday through Thursday         8:30 A.M. - 11:00 A.M.
3's             Wednesday and Friday                9:00 A.m. - 11:30 A.M.

The center is not open on Saturdays or Sundays. Families are given a list of projected closings. In the event of emergency weather closings, families who arrive before 8:00 A.M. will be called and a sign will be posted on the front door. WKYC, FOX, and STAR 97.1 FM will announce unscheduled closings for the full day enrollees and local school closings. The part day pre-school programs will be closed on the days when Madison Local Schools are closed.

Developmental Concerns & Special Needs:
The support and involvement of the following assist the center in accepting children with special needs and provide specific, appropriate programming for all children.

An Early Childhood Specialist is available for consultation and intervention. The consultant is on call as needed.

An Early Childhood Pre-School Special Needs Teacher is provided through the Madison Local Schools on an as needed basis.

Developmental Screenings:
The center provides screenings at no cost to the families. The results of this tool, in combination with family input and classroom observation, allows curriculum planning to accommodate the specific needs of each child. A series of age appropriate screening tools will be administered as the child grows. This tool, in conjunction with teacher obersations and family input, provide a basis for identifying areas of concern. The center's Early Educators are qualified to administer and interpret the Denver II, Ages & Stages, Creative Curriculum, Brigance, and DECA screening programs.

Children between the ages 3-5 are screened for vision and "lazy eye".

Dental check-ups will be provided at no cost.

Emergencies:
At initial enrollment and annually, parents must complete information forms listing numbers where they may be reached while their child is at the center. Parents must provide phone numbers for two emergency contacts that may be called for medical emergencies, a preferred physician, dentist, and a specific hospital.

Procedures, with specifics for general emergency, evacuation, serious incident, injury or illness are posted in each room and a summary is included in the Emergency Procedures section.

Field Trips:
Understanding that children are experimental learners and learn the most by using their senses and having hands-on experiences, field trips are planned to provide additional opportunities to question, explore, and think critically.

Out of center activities are planned in advance, with details provided to parents, who need to give written permission to allow the child this experience.

Out of center activities do not include swimming.

If a parent elects to not have a child attend a trip, we ask that the child remain with the parent and returns to the center after the trip.

*Procedures are posted in each area and are included on this website.

Health Requirements:
Children are required to be in the process of receiving immunizations as required by the Ohio Department of Health. The physicians statement must be completed annually for children under the age of six.

Insurance:
The center carries accident/liability insurance for children and staff. Parents are responsible for medical bills and the cost of emergency transportation in the event of injury or illness while a child is in attendance at the center.

Late Pick Up:
A fine of $5.00 per each ten minutes or part of ten minutes per child picked up past 6:30 P.M. will be imposed and must be cleared before the child/ren can return to the center. These also apply to children attending pre-school class only. Repeated late pick-ups will not be tolerated and may result in dismissal from the center.

Non-Discrimination Policy:
Stepping Stones Child Development Center does not discriminate in the enrollment of children or in the hiring process upon the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or disability in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Outdoor Activities:
The center has four acres of property available for outdoor play each day in the suitable weather for toddlers, pre-school, and school age children. Children must go outdoors with their group. There are never exceptions to this policy. In the summer, water activities are provided but do not include the use of wading pools or standing water.

On inclement days or days when the temperature is below 25°, the younger children will participate in gross motor activities and games indoors. School age children are allowed outdoors when the temperature is above 20°.

Parent Involvement:
The administration and staff understands that parents are the primary educators, nurturers, and advocates for their children. Families are encouraged to participate in all center activities and are provided numerous opportunities for significant experiences with their children. Parents are encouraged to observe, stop in, and call at any time. Each area has its own telephone extension allowing families quick access to their child's class. Field trips, parties, center projects, special snacks, parent meetings, and gatherings are some ways parents can assist. Meetings are planned to offer educational topics and fun "make it, take it" activities.
Information is shared in monthly letters and informal discussions at arrival and departure as well as at a family's request. Formal conferences are scheduled twice a year and at parent request.
Daily conversation is encouraged.

**Parents are required to attend an annual orientation.

Parent Rosters:
Rosters of the names and telephone numbers of parents or guardians having children enrolled at the center are available upon request. The roster will not include the name or telephone number of any parent who requests that his/her name or telephone number not be included.

Payment Guidelines:
Specific payment schedules are noted on the family agreement.
**Late payment fees are imposed every ten days until an account is current.

Schedules:
A sample daily schedule is available upon request. Each class has the schedule for that group posted in their area.

Infants and Toddlers: Schedules and planning for infants and toddlers vary with the age and developmental level of each of the children in the group. The administration understands that children of this age need to be allowed freedom to explore their environment and begin to have appropriate social interactions. The environment for this age is safe and the surroundings are planned to allow numerous choices of activities in a less structured atmosphre.

School Age Programs:
Children enrolled in elementary school may run errands inside the building, and are allowed to use the restroom alone, if the restroom is for the exclusive use of the center.

Play in the field behind the center without direct supervision is allowed if the children are within sight and hearing distance of the primary caregiver. This is a privilege that the children must earn. Safety rules and proper behavior are reviewed with the children weekly and as needed.

By law, the center must determine the whereabouts of a child when the child is absent, but is scheduled to be at the center. The procedure applies for children who do not arrive at the center with a parent or guardian (i.e. school bus). Please notify the center of absences.

On days that the school system is closed or classes are cancelled, this age group is expected to attend center programs. The schools send out a closing schedule in August. The center will provide a list of school and center closings.

Security:
Any parent, custodian, or guardian of a child enrolled in the center shall be permitted unlimited access to the facility during the hours of operation for the purpose of contacting their children, evaluating the care provided by the facility, or evaluating the premises. Visitors must ring the bell for supervised entry and be cleared before being being allowed access to the center or the children.

Arrival: NO CHILD IS TO BE DROPPED OFF. Parents must escort children to their assigned area and be acknowledged by a staff member before leaving. The administrator must approve exceptions.

Dismissal: At dismissal, children will be released with permission of the staff member responsible for the child.

Staff-Child Ratios:
The center is licensed to serve 136 children: 15 infants, 19 toddlers, 70 pre-school, and 32 of school age.

As an accredited center, Stepping stones follows the Step Up to Quality staff/child ratio guidelines which are more stringent than those required by State of Ohio licensing. State group guidelines are sometimes used for outdoor play but seldom used for indoor activities.

The ratios for the majority of each day are:
Maximum number of children per teacher (National Association for the Education of Young Children):
Infants (under 12 months)                         4-5
Toddlers                                                       4-5
Tadpoles (30 months - 3 years)                    7
Pre-schoolers (3 - 4 years)                           10
Pre-schoolers (4 - 5 years)                           10
Schoolage (through 2nd grade)                12-14

Ohio Required Ratios:                                              Group Size:
Infants                                                           5                   12
Toddlers                                                        6                   12
Tadpoles (30 months - 3 years)                   7                   14
Pre-schoolers (3 - 4 years)                          12                  24
Pre-schoolers (4 -6 years)                           14                 28
Schoolage                                                     18                 32


Staff Qualifications:
The Early Educators at the center are required to hold a Bachelor or Associate degree in Early Childhood Education, or a Child Development Associate Credential. As a condition of hire, the Caregivers must be working toward a degree or credential and are required to attend a minimum of 45 hours of specific early childhood trainings within three years of their date of hire. In addition, all staff are required to accumulate ten hours of advanced training each year. Once certified, staff remains current with certifications in Red Cross First Aid, Communicable Disease: Recognition and Prevention, Child Abuse Recognition and Prevention, and Heartsavers CPR.

Television/Video:
The center does not have a television. Videotapes and CDs may be used to reinforce a theme, provide music for sing-a-longs, or occasionally view a movie. Pre-schoolers may view "G" rated movies. School age children are allowed to view some "PG" rated movies. Parents who do not approve of this policy need to inform the Administrator.

Toys From Home:
Toys from home must be limited to security items only. The center discourages the practice of toys from home and will not accept responsibility for lost or damaged toys. Toys of a violent nature are not allowed.

Transitions:
A system to insure a smooth transition as children move into the next age group is in place. Licensing rules allow children to spend time with the next older group before being assigned to that group. These "visits" provide opportunities for children to establish a relationship with the new Early Educator as well as becoming comfortable in a different environment. Plans for transitional activities, including dates and schedules will be written with input from the parent who must give written authorization of approval of the plan.

Transportation & Tracking:
Parents are responsible for transporting children to and from the center. Families are asked to notify the center of child absences.

The center will arrange transportation for field trips and emergency evacuation. Available options include use of the center van, Lake Tran, hired buses, Madison School buses, staff vehicles, and/or parent vehicles. Parents are required to give written permission for children to attend out of center activities. Volunteer drivers must provide proof of insurance and a current drivers license.

The center does not make routine trips, i.e. transportation to school. When children are transported by vehicle or during routine field walking trips, a second adult must be present for every five infants or a combination of seven or more toddlers, pre-school, and schoolage children. When only schoolage children are transported in one vehicle, a second adult shall be present in the vehicle for every ten school children, or the driver shall have a cellular phone as a means of immediate communication. At no time will children be left unattended in a vehicle. In order to determine the whereabouts of children who are scheduled to arrive or leave the center for another program and return to the center, a staff member will escort the children to and from the transportation vehicle. Children will be checked in and out at these times. When the other programs are cancelled or delayed, the children will be expected to attend the center's program.

Tuition Rates:
ALL CHILDREN AGE 24 MONTHS THROUGH 5 YEARS ATTEND PRE-SCHOOL CLASS EACH DAY.

The cost of pre-school class is included in the full day childcare fee.

Families need to pay a recurring annual registration fee, t-shirt fee, and activity charges.

Tuition rates will be discussed at the pre-enrollment interview.

Visitations and Release of Children:
Nonresidential parents shall be afforded the same rights as the custodial parent unless there is court documentation limiting access and conditions of the nonresidential parent.

Children will be released to either parent unless notified otherwise in writing.
Release of a child to any person other than a parent will be allowed with a signed authorization from the parent, specifying the designated person.

We have the right and the responsibility to request identification.

Withdrawal/Dismissal:
The center needs to be a safe, healthy, and secure environment for all children and staff. If a child exhibits behaviors, which place others in danger, or creates stress in the environment, that child may need to be released from the program.

If it is determined that the family is not supporting the staff and consultants with agreed upon procedures, ethically, the child must be removed from the program.

If withdrawal becomes necessary, the family will be given advanced notice and will be provided with assistance in locating an alternative setting for the child.

Families wishing to withdraw their child from the program are requested to notify and meet with the Administrator.

Stepping Stones is a "Gentle Teaching" facility. The Administrator is a certified mentor for this method and will make every effort to consult with families and outside resources to assist with any behavior or learning concerns. Each Early Educator at the center is autonomous and has the authority to consult with families in an effort to find viable solutions to staff or parental concerns. If there is a recurring behavioral concern with a child, the teacher, consulting with the family, will decide on a workable solution. The Administrator will be consulted on the actions to follow. Every effort will be made to assist the family with intervention in an effort to allow the child to remain at the center.