Lots-4-Tots  -
The purpose of this handbook is to acquaint you with my program, philosophy, policies, schedules and procedures, and to answer questions you may have about Lots-4-Tots child care. If you have additional questions after reviewing this handbook, please discuss them with me.
 
Lots-4-Tots Home Child Care
Policy and Procedure Handbook

 
Objective
The goal of Lots-4-Tots child care is to provide high quality care in a fun, safe and nurturing environment.  I take my job and responsibility seriously and make every effort to meet the needs of the children, as well as provide parents with peace of mind that each child is in the best care that is available for them.

Philosophy
Lots-4-Tots child care program is based on the sound principles of child development and provides a learning environment that emphasizes the importance of wonder, discovery and creativity through play.  I strive to give children a sense of self worth by helping them develop at their own individual pace while learning basic and advanced skills.  I am committed to promoting and supporting all phases of a child's growth in an atmosphere of respect. I want each child to feel secure, confident and loved enough to explore and grow in a stimulating, educational and social setting. I believe in teaching children to be kind, polite, honest and respectful through gentle guidance, encouragement, positive influence and great examples. I think an ideal learning environment should be fun, memorable, and help the children to grow in all aspects – physically, socially, emotionally, morally, and intellectually. I know every child is unique and has potential.  I will always encourage every child to set and reach goals and be the best that they can be.

Program Operation
Lots-4-Tots is licensed to operate group child care for a maximum of 12 children at any one time.  This license, number 09-85-6810-G, is issued subject to the provisions of North Dakota State Law. This license needs to be renewed every year. I will always follow state guidelines and directions to ensure the child care I offer is safe and sanitary at all times.
 
I provide service to children three months through six years of age and their families.  I accept all children regardless of what their needs may be.  I do not discriminate based on race, color, sex, disability, national origin or public assistance status.   If an opening is not available, parents may put their child’s name on a waiting list where vacancies in the age ratio available will be filled as they occur.
 
The parents of each child enrolled at Lots-4-Tots will sign a contract.  By signing the contract, you agree you have read and will abide by my policy and procedure handbook.  I may amend the handbook at any time.  I will provide a new copy of the handbook and contract at least 30 days before the changes will go into effect.  In fairness, I will enforce this handbook to all families in my care and I expect everyone in turn to respectively follow it.  Any failure to enforce one or more terms of your contract agreement does not waive the right of Lots-4-Tots to enforce any other terms of the contract agreement.
 
As the child’s provider and teacher, I spend more hours with your child then anyone else outside of your immediate family.  I know that the first years of a child’s life are the most important in forming who your child will become.  I do not take my job lightly and will do my best at any given time. I run my business according to what I would expect from my child care provider if I needed one. These standards are set high. 

Child Care Tuition
Please refer to the tuition rate sheet.  This rate is based on contract not attendance.  Tuition will be reviewed yearly in August; if rates increase it will be no more then 3% of current tuition rate. You will be notified 30 days in advance of any changes. 
 
You are responsible to pay the same tuition regardless of your child’s attendance.  Absent days may include, but are not limited to the following reasons:
-Child is ill
-Vacation day
-There is an emergency in your family
-Early/late closings
-Snow days
-Closure due to power outage or other inclement weather emergencies

Billing Policies
Parents have the option to pay their tuition weekly, biweekly or monthly. Child care tuition is due the Friday prior to the following week or weeks of care.  It is important that payments be made on time. If I have not received tuition, I will not accept your child into care.  A check or money order made out to Lots-4-Tots, in the amount due, is strongly recommended, as cash payments are difficult to manage.  A $35.00 charge will be assessed for NSF checks.  Accounts are subject to a cash/money order only basis after the second returned check. A year end statement of all child care tuition paid will be provided within the first 4 weeks of January. 
 
I am more than happy to work with parents receiving assistance from the North Dakota Child Care Assistance Program. All child care payments will be made upfront and the NDCCAP program will reimburse you directly.  If you are receiving Child Care Assistance you are responsible for co-payments and any other payments or fees not covered by the program. In addition, if your child is absent from care it is your responsibility to contact Child Care Assistance to arrange for payment to continue, or to cover those payments yourself.
 
Third party payments (including Child Care Assistance payments) are accepted only when prior arrangements are made. A special payment schedule must be agreed upon and a payment contract signed and submitted by parents before third party payments are accepted.
 
Contracted Hours
Lots-4-Tots operates under contracted hours and does not carry open-closed hours.  Child care hours provided for each family are based upon each individual family’s needs/work schedules. These agreed upon hours are contracted hours of service that are covered by your weekly tuition.  Your child’s daily hours cannot exceed 9.5 hours per day.  Lots-4-Tots opens and closes when your child arrives and is picked up.  Please note that ‘late drop offs’ do not warrant ‘late pickups’.  If it has passed your contracted hours and I have not heard from you, and I have not been able to reach any of the emergency numbers provided, I will assume the worst and will call the police for assistance.  If you wish to change the contracted hours you are required to notify me at least two weeks in advance, these hours must remain between the hours I am available and a new contract will be signed.
 
Evening Rate
It is important that children be picked up at their contracted time of departure.  An evening rate of $5.00 per 15 minute increments will start after a child’s pick up time exceeds 15 minutes of the specific contracted hours for that day. 

Child Care Holding Fee
A non-refundable holding fee is required to hold an opening when a child is on an extended leave or their start date is more than two weeks after enrollment. This fee will be 75% of the regular weekly rate of the child. This payment is due the Friday before each week that the opening is to be held.  Beginning on the date the opening becomes available. If payment is not received by 5:00 PM Friday, the opening will no longer be held and any fees or payments that have been made will be forfeited.

Holidays
All holidays and birthdays are celebrated throughout the year.  Holiday celebrations are an ideal opportunity to teach children about our culture, traditions and values.  Holiday/Birthday gifts and or treats are always welcomed but never expected.

Closings
Lots-4-Tots is closed in observance of many holidays each year and full pay is required for those days listed below:
-New Years Day
-Good Friday
-Easter
-Memorial Day
-Independence Day
-Labor Day
-Thanksgiving Day
-Black Friday
-Christmas Eve
-Christmas Day
 
If a holiday falls on a Saturday it will be observed on the preceding Friday; if a holiday falls on a Sunday, it will be observed on the following Monday and Lots-4-Tots will be closed.  If there are any additional days added to this list, you will be given a 30 day notice.
 
I will be allowed 10 paid personal/sick/professional training days per calendar year.  Unused days will not be transferred into the next calendar year.  If an excess of 10 days are used, you will be able to deduct the cost of care for the day out of your weekly tuition.
 
You are responsible for having backup child care if I must close my business, if I am unable to care for your child or if I am unable to provide substitute staff.  This may include, but is not limited to the following reasons:
-I am ill
-I take a vacation
-There is an emergency in our family (death, serious illness, accident, etc.)
-Closed due to personal/sick/professional training day
-Closed due to bad weather or other weather related emergencies
 
During severe weather please listen to your radio or television; Lots-4-Tots will be closed if the West Fargo School District closes. If this takes place you will be promptly notified. If you have not heard from me, make sure you call or text me before you attempt to bring your child. In addition, at my discretion I reserve the right to open late or close early when necessary due to the weather.
 
Absences
State regulations require that I ensure your child arrives safely at Lots-4-Tots each day. If a child does not arrive within 15 minutes of his/her contracted time without notification that the child will be late or absent, I am required to contact the child’s parents to determine the whereabouts of the child.  Out of common courtesy, let me know as promptly as possible of any day your child will be absent or late.  If your child will be arriving late or will be picked up early, provide me with the estimated arrival or departure time of the child.  This is important so I can accurately plan our day and meals.  
 
If you need to make an appointment during the day for your child it would be appreciated if you made the appointment first thing in the morning or later in the afternoon.  It tends to be very disruptive to the child’s routine when they leave and return.
 
Arrival and Departure
We ask that you respect our home, and us, and in return we will do the same for you and your property.  Our home is used as a business and we expect you to treat it as you would any other business establishment.  Lots-4-Tots doors will be locked at all times unless it is a contracted time for an arrival or pick up.  This is for the safety of our home as well as your children. 
 
To ensure that each child is safe and supervised at all times a parent must accompany each child into Lots-4-Tots each morning and get him/her settled.  Please inform me to the best of your ability as to who will be dropping off and picking up your child on any given day.  Children will not be sent home with other parents or adult friends unless I have been notified in advance.  If someone is legally not allowed to see or pick up the child, I will need a copy of the court order on file.  I am responsible for your child until you physically make contact with them upon entering our home.
 
Drop off and pick up times are very common times for children to misbehave or get upset. This is the most stressful part of our day.  It is confusing to have two different authority figures present and children will test boundaries to see if the rules still apply.  It is very important that you back up my rules at this time.  Spending a few minutes checking on the child’s day is very important, keep these times as quick as possible in order to make these transitions easier for your child as well as the others in care.
This is not a good time to discuss serious problems.  Little ears and minds hear and understand everything.  Instead we can set up a time where the issues can be discussed in private.
 
I maintain an open door policy during child care hours. Which means parents are welcome to text, call or stop by anytime their child is in my care. Please take into consideration our schedule and remember that visitors usually cause children to react in an excited manner.
 
Do not come to my house under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs or any medication that impairs your ability to operate a vehicle or care for your child.  If you do, I cannot legally keep your child from you, but I will contact the authorities.  Also, Lots-4-Tots is a smoke-free environment. No one is permitted to smoke in my home or on my property; either during or after child care hours.
 
Parent/Provider Communication
I believe that my connection to your family is critical to your child’s development. I try to create deep, caring connections with each family and child in my care.  We truly need to work together as a team to raise your child, and communication is key.  I will initiate verbal communication with parents on a daily basis in an effort to keep the communication channels open and to enhance commitment for honest, friendly, and sincere communication.  Parents are encouraged to communicate to me any significant information regarding their child such as a sleepless night, injury, illness, family issues, etc.  This will help me to better understand your child's mood and behavior. If you have ideas or know of something that will provide your child with better care, please feel free to share them with me and I will consider them.
 
Daily report sheets are completed for infants.  Information includes their diaper changes, what they ate, nap times, and any other important information you may need.  There is also a communication board above the cubbies that includes our daily menu and important information about activities that are coming up as well.

Child Guidance and Discipline
I use positive guidance techniques such as modeling and encouraging expected behavior, redirection and setting clear limits.  Time outs are used at my discretion when necessary with one minute per year of age used as the maximum time away from regular activities.  After returning from time out the child will explain or be told why they were in time out and will need to apologize to the appropriate people.  If I express to you that your child is having a persistent behavior problem, please know it is because it is affecting our day.  All of the children deserve to be in a fun, happy and stress free learning environment. When a child persistently acts up it takes away attention from other children and in turn they also start to act up.  I expect you to work with me as a team to find a way to correct the behavior problem.  When an incident of biting or physical harm occurs, all parents of the children involved will be informed.  Parents need to be willing to work with me to get the behavior under control and bring it to an end.  If it is apparent I am not receiving cooperation from the parent and the child’s inappropriate behavior is persistent, the child may be asked to leave the program.

I have many positive incentives set in place to encourage children to be on their best behavior and to make good choices.  Such as:

-Praise, hugs and high fives
-A good choice reward jar
-Sticker charts used to earn prizes when filled out
-A classroom incentive system used to earn Friday Fun Days
 
Daily Schedule
The daily schedule includes individual, small and large group activities, quiet and active, indoor and outdoor activity periods.  Every child will be provided with a variety of play equipment and materials that are appropriate to their age.  We follow a daily schedule to help children set routines, however it is subject to change.  Children’s diaper changes and bathroom needs, along with infant feedings and naps are taken care of as needed by the individual child.
 
Children are taught a 26 week preschool curriculum during the fall/winter months, with weekly classroom newsletters emailed directly to parents. This curriculum meets the standards of The Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale. It is academically enriched and reinforces cognitive skill development, which are the underlying mental skills required for learning. It will prepare your child for kindergarten and increase their ability to succeed in school. 
 
Our daily schedule is designed to provide appropriate experiences in the following early childhood development areas:

Social Development
-Getting along in groups
-Learning responsible behavior (such as taking turns)
-Respecting ethnic/cultural/age/sexual differences
-Expressing feelings appropriately

Cognitive Development
-Providing experience with math and science
-Promoting children's curiosity about the world by encouraging observation, exploration and experimentation
-Building reading and writing skills
-Fostering imagination and creativity
-Language skills
-Listening, speaking, following directions
-Learning numbers, relational concepts and classification skills leading to problem solving

Physical Development
-Developing large and small muscle skills
-Increasing body awareness
-Improving eye-hand coordination and perceptual skills
-Exploring rhythm and movement
-Emotional Development
-Promoting positive self image
-Fostering cooperation
-Developing independence, initiative and trust

Creativity
-Art
-Music
-Dramatic play

Sensory Experiences
Exploring colors, textures, sounds, sights, tastes, smells and patterns in the world around us

Outdoor Play
Outdoor play is an important part of Lots-4-Tots curriculum. Children have the opportunity for fresh air and physical activity on a daily basis throughout the year, weather and temperature permitting. Outdoor activities take place in a secure play area in our fenced in yard or at one of the many neighborhood parks that are available for us to walk to. The children will be supervised at all times.  It will be the parent’s responsibility to provide their child with appropriate clothing for the weather of the day. In the summer months we use a wading pool/water slide, the Pool Permission Slip must be filled out before your child can participate.  You will be asked to provide sunscreen and insect repellant for use in the summer and appropriate snow gear in the winter.

Nutrition
Children use gatherings, such as meal times as social times.  Therefore, I teach the children conversation skills and table manners.  In addition, they are involved in setting the table, cleaning up after they are done eating and throwing away their own trash.  Every child is offered a nutritious breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snack.  Breakfast will be served at 8:00 AM.  Lunch will be served at 11:15 AM.  Snack will be served at 3:30 PM.  If a child is not present at the scheduled mealtime, it is the parent's responsibility to see that the child is fed.

Good nutrition is vital to children's physical and mental development.  My child care menus have been carefully designed to fulfill requirements with the SENDCA Child Food Program guidelines and to promote good nutrition and encourage the development of good eating habits that will last a lifetime.  Children are offered food from each food group and are encouraged to try everything on their plate.  However, if they do not want to eat something they are not required to do so. It is my goal to teach the children to have a healthy relationship with food so I will not reward or punish them for eating.  Daily menus are included on the communication board for your review.
 
I provide a limited number of formulas for infants up to one year of age, as well as, other nutritional food that the infant may need. If your child is on a different formula than I provide you may chose to supply your own formula. If you are breastfeeding the breast milk can be stored fresh or frozen, please label and date.
 
Please do not bring food from home unless you bring enough for everyone to share.
 
Nap and Rest Time
A well rested child is a happy child.  Each child will be encouraged to nap or rest at a regularly scheduled time each day as it gives a much needed break from the day.  Depending on the children, nap time generally runs from 1:00 PM-3:00 PM. There will be no pick-ups during naptime as it interrupts those that need their rest.  Clean, separate blankets are provided for each child. You may bring a special blanket or other security item to be used at nap time that will be stored in their cubby.
 
Infants under the age of 12 months will be laid down to sleep on their backs in a portable crib, to reduce the chance of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.  A written parental permission form will need to be filled out for an infant to sleep with a blanket, sleep sack, pacifier or security item.
 
Health Information
Each child must have completed and up to date immunization record according to the rules of the Department of Human Services, which will be updated annually.  It is also necessary that a Parent’s Statement on Health of Child be completed.  Both will be placed in the child’s record file.
 
My goal is to keep your child as healthy as possible so his/her energy can be used to grow and learn instead of to fight germs. Each child's health needs to be important to all of us as it can affect our families and home life. I strive to maintain a healthy, clean environment. I also encourage the children to cover their sneezes and coughs with their elbows, and to wash their hands frequently, especially before and after eating and after using the bathroom.  I teach children appropriate ways to be germ fighters and expect them to be germ fighters after they leave our home.
 
Wellness Policy
Under no circumstances may a parent bring a sick child to Lots-4-Tots. If the child shows any signs of illness, or is unable to participate in our normal routine and daily activities your child must stay home. Your cooperation on this issue is extremely important. It is unfair to expose one contagious child to a room full of others risking their health as well as the providers.  Most parents know that taking care of one sick child can be difficult, but for a child care provider this means one sick child in addition to the rest.  I ask that you please be honest about any illness that your child has incurred so we can try extra hard to prevent it from spreading amongst our family’s.  I will inform parents if their child has been exposed to a contagious illness so that they are able to watch for signs or symptoms.
 
Children will be visually screened when they arrive in the morning.  In the event a child becomes ill and needs to leave, parents will be notified and are expected to pick the child up within one hour. The child will be cared for and given an appropriate place to rest until a parent arrives. Children will be excluded to reduce the transmission of illness for the following reasons:
-Fever above 100° F.
-Unidentified rash
-Diarrhea: 2 or more runny, watery stools in a 4 hour period.
-Vomiting: 2 or more times in a 24 hour period.  Please do not bring your child if they have vomited in the night.
-Breathing trouble, sore throat, swollen glands, loss of voice, hacking or continuous coughing.
-Runny nose (other then clear), draining eyes or ears
-Pink eye until on antibiotics
-Impetigo until 24 hours after treatment
-Strep throat until 24 hours after treatment
-The child is infected with a communicable disease
-The child is irritable, continuously crying, or requires more attention then I can provide without compromising the health and safety of other children

Children who have been excluded may return when:
-They are symptom free for 24 hours
-They are free of fever for a full 24 hours without the use of Motrin or Tylenol
-They are free of vomiting or diarrhea for a full 24 hours
-The have been treated with an antibiotic for a full 24 hours
-They have a doctors note stating that the child is no longer contagious
 
Parents need to inform me within 24 hours when a child is diagnosed with a contagious reportable disease such as lice, impetigo, chicken pox, measles, mumps, scarlet fever, infectious hepatitis or meningitis.
 
If you have any questions regarding excluding your child, please refer to the ND Child Care Infection Control Manual at: http://www.ndhealth.gov/disease/documents/publications/daycaremanual.pdf.
 
Medications
Non-prescription medications will not be administered unless the Consent for Non-Prescription Medication Authorization form has been completed.  All medications will be kept out of the reach of children. Any non-prescription medications that are administered to children will be provided by parents and documented on the medication authorization form.  No prescribed medication will ever be administered.
 
Emergency Care
Parents must sign a form authorizing emergency care for their child. This form will list important information concerning your child in case of an emergency.  I am trained in First Aid and CPR biennial. In the event of any injury other than minor scrapes, bumps and scratches, the parents will be notified immediately. I will assess the child and provide home first aid.  In the event of a serious injury parents will be notified immediately and necessary steps will be taken to obtain medial aid.
 
Lots-4-Tots is not responsible for injuries due to an accident during active play, the child’s own coordination, or by the hand of another child.  Parents are responsible for the insurance coverage of their own children.
 
Non Medical Emergencies
I have annual fire inspections and abide by all state fire regulations.  A fire evacuation plan and alternate plan are posted and discussed with the children monthly. Our smoke detectors and fire extinguishers are checked regularly.  Should a fire occur, the house would be evacuated, 911 will be called, and parents will be notified immediately of our location.
 
If our area is placed under a tornado warning, the children will be kept calm and moved with pillows, blankets, flashlights and a radio into the basement bathroom or under the basement stairs. We will remain here until the warning has lifted. Parents will be notified by text of our plan and location.
 
If severe weather conditions require Lots-4-Tots to close, parents will be notified to pick up their children as soon as possible.
  
Clothing
Play is children’s work so they need to wear washable, comfortable clothing that could get paint-y, messy, sticky and dirty. Make sure the child’s clothing is also weather appropriate. You must provide extra clothing for your child that is suitable for the season and the size of the child; this will be kept in their cubby. 
 
Toys
I provide many appropriate toys for all of the age groups.  Children are allowed to bring a toy, stuffed animal or doll to child care but will be expected to take turns with it.  If the item creates a problem with the other children, it will be put away for the remainder of the day.  I will do my best to make sure all belongings are kept in good condition, but accidents do happen.  I am not responsible for any lost or damaged belongings.  I do not allow toys or books that could be interpreted as violent in my home. This includes any toy that appears to be a gun, knife, or any other weapon.

Learning to Use the Toilet
Learning to use the toilet is a big event in a young child’s life.  Because toilet training is a complex process, there are many issues caregivers and families must consider before and during the process of toilet training for it to be a successful experience for everyone.  If you think your child is ready, we will discuss readiness together. If the child has most of the needed skills mastered, the process should go pretty quickly.  You will begin potty training at home during the weekend.  I will follow through and encourage your child while in my care. The child will be kept in pull-ups or 5 ply training pants at all times until they are accident free for one week. If the child is being toilet trained; please provide several sets of clothing each day. Their pants should not have snaps, zippers or be tight as these obstacles make it difficult for children to remove in a hurry.

Field Trips
The only field trips we will take are walking field trips.  They include walking around the neighborhood and walking to the nearby parks.
 
Transporting
I will not be transporting children in any vehicle.

Staff and Volunteers
All staff and volunteers are selected according to the guidelines set forth by the North Dakota Department of Social Services.   Their information is given to my licensor and a background check is completed on them.  I will always give my best effort to have substitute staff available for the children if I need to leave because of an emergency or for an appointment during the day. 

Confidentiality of Records/Privacy Act
I will do all that I can to protect your family’s privacy and will abide by the state privacy law.  I will keep all records and information about your child and your family private and confidential, unless I have your permission to reveal specific information.  We also ask that you respect the privacy of our family by not sharing any information you learn about us without our permission.
 
Children that are enrolled in my child care will have a folder that includes their records. You are responsible for updating their records immediately when any of the information changes.  These folders are only open to the provider, the state licensing agency and the child’s parent.  You may ask to access your child’s folder at any time.
 
Child Abuse Reporting
All children get bumps and bruises as a part of growing up.  It is important that you tell me about any unusual injuries or conditions your child has.  I am a mandated reporter, if I suspect child abuse or neglect it will be documented and the appropriate people will be informed.
 
Grievance Procedure
Any parent who has a complaint against Lots-4-Tots, who is dissatisfied with the quality of care received, or feels their child is being discriminated against, may file a complaint with my licensing agency, Cass County Social Services.  In order to do this, parents should contact Dede Wienckowski, Child Care Licensing Specialist at (701) 239-6720.
 
If any parent feels the complaint or concern does not warrant a report to Cass County Social Services, please discuss it with me as soon as possible.

Parental Withdrawal of Child
If you decide to withdraw your child from my program, you need to notify me by written notice 30 days prior to your child’s last day of enrollment.  If it is not given, full, normal tuition charges will be billed for the last 30 days of care.

Termination by Provider
If it is necessary for me to stop caring for your child I will give you 30 days notice prior to the last date of service. 
 
In rare cases of severe problems, I may be forced to release your child from care without giving any notice.  If this occurs child care tuition already paid for the week will not be refunded.  Care may be terminated without notice for the following reasons:
-Child is increasingly unhappy and unable to become comfortable at Lots-4-Tots
-Child consistently physically or verbally harms other children
-Child destroys any property
-Parent routinely abuses contracted drop off and pick up times
-Parent does not pay child care tuition on time
-Parent does not work with me as a team to provide consistent guidance and discipline
 
Website
All information regarding Lots-4-Tots Child Care is also available on my website:  www.lots-4-totschildcare.com

 
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