PARENT HANDBOOK

 

Children’s Center Mission Statement
The Children’s Center is an outreach ministry of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church of El Segundo.  The school is an expression of the church’s concern for children and their families and operates within the context of Christian faith and values.  We affirm that it is important for children to come to recognize themselves and others as children of God.

Under the guidance of qualified, caring teachers and staff, our school provides a program that considers the developmental needs of the child and emphasizes growth in all areas– physical, emotional, mental and spiritual– as a continuous, interrelated process. Our program also stresses social skills, self-help skills and independence skills.  We use a hands-on experiential approach to learning.  A wide range of learning opportunities is offered through experiences in fields of science, nature, math, cooking, music, literature, creative media and dramatic play.  Our goal for each child includes an experience of acceptance and love, growth in self-understanding, learning to interact successfully with others, and an increasing awareness and knowledge of the beauty and diversity of the world.

School Policies
School policies are set under the guidance of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church and the California State Department of Social Services. We are licensed with the State Department of Social Services. License #197408458 (PS) & #197408459 (IT).

Our school is also a credentialed member of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles Commission on Schools. We admit students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to the rights, privileges, programs and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of our educational policies, admissions policies and other school administered programs.

Admission Policy
St. Michael’s Children’s Center was established as a service to the community and is open to everyone who may benefit from our program, regardless of race, gender, or religion. The school accepts children from six weeks to five years old (or before kindergarten).

Applications are accepted in person. Confirmation of registration is not final until the registration form and fee are submitted and processed. Registration and first month’s tuition are due at least one month before your child’s start date. These fees are non-refundable.  Preference is given to church members and siblings of current and past students. The order of acceptance may be adjusted due to exceptional circumstances. These exceptions are at the sole discretion of the Director.

If a child is accepted and the Director then determines that the child cannot benefit from or is a detriment to the program, is not ready due to emotional, behavioral, or other problems, we reserve the right to dismiss the child from the school.  This determination by the Director will be done on a case by case basis. Children with special needs are accepted when we feel they can benefit from our program and the extra services they require from the teachers and staff will not have a negative impact on the other children.

School Year Closures
The school is open year round with the exception of the following days:

Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday (January)
President’s Day (February)
Good Friday (April)
4th of July
Labor Day (September)
Thanksgiving and the following Friday (November)
Winter Break (see calendar)
Four staff in-service training days

Registration Forms  
When you register for school you will be given a packet of forms.  All forms must be completed and returned to the Children’s Center office on or before the first day your child attends school. It is very important that the emergency form is included and that special attention is given to the names of alternate people to call in the event that a parent cannot be reached.

We cannot accept a student until all the forms are returned, especially the “Physician’s Report Form”.  This form must be completed and signed by your child’s pediatrician and must include up-to-date immunization information.

Registration fee and first month’s tuition are due with the application one month prior to start date and are non-refundable. Returning students’ registration is completed in May and the yearly materials fee is due by July 1.

Tuition
Our tuition is based on a 12 month plan.  At the end of each month you will receive a bill for the following month’s tuition.  Tuition is paid in advance of each month and is due on or before the first of that month.  Payments received after the 5th of the month (no matter which days you attend) will incur a $25 penalty.  If payment has not been received before the 10th your child will not be allowed to attend school until payment is made. Missed days will not be prorated. A $32 fee will be charged for each returned check.

St. Michael’s Children’s Center requires a 30 day notice in writing if you will be removing your child from our school.

We reserve the right to deny a reduction of days from your original contract.  A 30 day notice will be given when a tuition increase will occur.

Absences 
Because our school expenses are constant (12 months), we do not give vacation or illness credits.  If your child misses school for any reason, full tuition is still required. We do not trade days.  If you need an additional day and it is available, your child may attend for an additional daily fee.

Hours of Drop Off and Pick Up
The school is open Monday through Friday from 7:00AM to 6:00PM.  All children must arrive by 9:00AM. 

If you arrive at 9:00, please know that this is a transition time for the class and not a good time to try to communicate with the teacher.  You may leave a note or call later if you need to speak to the teacher.

Please do not linger in the preschool classroom.  This may make it difficult for your child to transition into the school routine and may also be disruptive to the other children.

Please note that children who consistently arrive after 9:00am may be dismissed from school.  If your child will be late due to doctor’s appointments, etc., you must notify the office.  Otherwise, we will NOT accept any children for the day who arrive after 9:30AM.  If you need to pick up your child for an appointment during the day they may only return if they arrive by 12:30PM.

Our preschool nap time is between 1-3PM and we ask that you not pick up your child during these hours because it is disruptive to the rest of the center. If you must pick up during nap time please inform the office.

We often have children who arrive very close to 7:00AM and bring breakfast. If you will be arriving early, we ask that you set up your child’s breakfast and start them eating at the designated tables in the preschool. Our breakfast cut-off time is 8:00AM. Children need to be DONE with breakfast at this time so the morning staff can be free to supervise and greet other children when they arrive. Children arriving at 7:50AM or later must have breakfast before they arrive.

Children who are still in diapers should be left with dry diapers at drop-off. Please check your child’s diaper before you leave.

Late Pick Up Fee
The Children’s Center closes promptly at 6:00PM.  We ask that you pick up 10 minutes before 6:00 so you have time to gather your child’s belongings.  If you arrive at 6:00 please do not linger as the staff needs to clean and lock up the school.  The late fee after 6:00PM is $5 for the first 5 minutes or any part thereof.  After 6:05PM the charge will be $2 for each additional minute per child.

Sign In/Sign Out
Licensing requires children each child to be signed in and out with a complete, legible signature and time every day he/she attends school. Initials are not acceptable. These procedures assure the safety and   security of your child.  For the preschool, the sign in sheet will be in the office window both morning and evening.  If your child is to be picked up by someone other than you, they must be 18 years old or older and have identification. In this instance please notify the office with written permission. We will not release your child without authorization.

A charge may be assessed for each day a signature or time is missing.

Illness Policy
In order to protect your child, the staff and the other children, please keep your child at home if he/she shows signs of illness.  The Director has the discretion to refuse attendance to children showing symptoms of illness or to contact you immediately to pick up your child for, but not limited to, the following:

  • Fever                          
  • Vomiting                    
  • Diarrhea                     
  • Skin rash                    
  • Open sores (should be medicated and covered)
  • Red or mattering eyes
  • Cold symptoms (runny nose, cough, etc.)
  • Listlessness
  • Head lice

State law requires that we be notified if any family member contracts a contagious disease (this includes, but is not limited to, chicken pox, impetigo, head lice, pink eye, etc.)

Our “return to school” policy states that a child must be clear of fever, diarrhea and/or vomiting (without medication), for 24 hours BEFORE returning to school. We feel these are safeguards for your child and for others.

If your child is sent home from school for one of these illnesses, they may NOT return to school the next day. Children sent home with symptoms of contagious diseases may not return to school without a doctor’s clearance.

Medicine Policy 
We know what an inconvenience it is for a parent to have to leave work to come and administer medicine personally.  For us to give your child medication there are three requirements:

1. A doctor’s written permission for NON– PRESCRIPTION medicine;
2.  Prescription medicine must be in the original bottle with the child’s name, doctor’s name and instructions on how to administer the medicine;
3. All medicine must be brought to the office and signed in on our Medicine Log.

We DO NOT give children Tylenol or any medication with a pain reliever/fever reducer. If your child needs a fever reducer, they should stay home. If they are in need of Tylenol for an injury or other reason, a doctor’s note is required. 

Snacks & Lunches
The Center supplies two snacks during the day– morning & afternoon.  We offer at least two food groups at each snack and provide water and milk.

Lunch is provided by the parents.  Please bring the lunch ready to be eaten including necessary utensils. Label all containers. Food should be cut in bite size pieces. Grapes, hot dogs, baby carrots, tomatoes, cherries should be cut the long way to avoid choking. We do not heat or cool lunches.  Lunches should be easy for the children to eat and in containers they can open.  Because we encourage children to eat healthy and make better food choices, cookies, candy, chips, popcorn, fruit snacks/roll ups (unless they are 100% fruit) and puddings are not allowed at school. Children are encouraged to eat their “main dish,” but are allowed to choose the foods they want to eat from their lunch. Please be mindful of this and be sure to pack foods that can be eaten in any order. We suggest sandwiches cut in half, fruit cut in slices, crackers and cheese, applesauce, yogurt, granola bars, milk or water, etc. You may also bring hot food in thermoses.

St. Michael’s is currently a peanut and egg free school. Please help us by voluntarily adhering to the following SMCC food allergy safety guidelines:

  1. In an effort to allow all children to participate fully in class activities, we ask that you eliminate eggs and any foods which contain peanut butter or nuts of any kind from your child’s lunch. Sunbutter is allowed, however, almond butter is not.
  2. If your child ate foods with eggs or nuts for breakfast, please make sure that his/her hands and face are washed with both soap and water before coming to school.
  3. Do not send any food items to be shared or eaten as snacks in our school with ingredient labels indicating they contain nuts.
  4. Parties are a special time for children, but can be difficult for the food-allergic child.  When sending in baked goods, please be mindful about the ingredients, as you will be amazed which items contain peanuts, are processed in a factory with nut products or were processed in a facility that also manufactures food containing common food allergens. Note that bakeries often use the same bowls to prepare items with nuts and those items without nuts. On these special days, parents of allergic children will send alternate treats for their child

Clothing
Children need to dress comfortably at school. Please send your child in clothes that he/she can remove and put back on easily by themselves for toileting. Remember, they WILL GET DIRTY so don’t dress them in their Sunday bests. Belts, snaps and zippers are often difficult for children at bathroom times. Elastic waists are easiest for children. Open-toed sandals, backless or dress shoes are not appropriate for school. Please label all clothing.

Toilet Training
Attendance at our school is not contingent on whether a child is toilet trained. Parents supply all diapers and wipes. When your child’s teacher feels the child is ready to start potty training he/she will speak to you about it.  If you are ready, we will begin the process.  Please bring lots of underwear and pants for changes in case of accidents.   

Discipline
Discipline is the art of teaching acceptable behavior rather than punishing a child for misbehavior. This is accomplished through positive reinforcement, redirection and when necessary, a “new beginning.” We set clear limits that children are able to understand.  A “new beginning” does not dwell on the misbehavior but stresses the positive steps the child can take next.  In this way, we help children gain control and respect for the rights of others.  We do not shame, embarrass, spank, shake, or administer any kind of physical punishments to any child.

 Communication
A school newsletter is published monthly.  The newsletter is sent electronically to you through your email.  The newsletter includes general school information, classroom information, and current and upcoming school and church events.  A monthly classroom calendar is posted in each classroom and monthly snack menu is emailed. Reminders of special days or events are often sent via email.

In Case of Emergency
In case of a medical/dental emergency, a first aid trained person from the Children’s Center will assess the seriousness of the situation. Parents will be called and if necessary, 911 will also be called.

Parent Conferences
We believe parent/teacher conferences are an important communication tool for our parents.  Our conferences are done in an informal and relaxed manner each spring. Additional conferences may be arranged by you or your child’s teacher if necessary. 

Ages and Stages Questionnaire

We will be administering the Ages and Stages Questionnaires, Third Edition (ASQ-3), to all children in our program.  The ASQ-3 is one of the first tools used to help you and your child’s teacher keep track of your child’s development. The first 5 years of life are very important for your child because this time sets the stage for success in school and later life.  It is important to ensure that each child’s development proceeds well during this period and the ASQ-3 is a helpful way to keep track.  

You and your child’s teacher will answer questions about some things your child can or cannot do.  This questionnaire includes questions about your child’s communication, gross motor, fine motor, problem solving, and personal-social skills.  Your child’s teacher will then set up a time to meet with you to discuss your child’s strengths and offer ideas on how to continue to support your child’s development.  If you have concerns about your child’s development we can offer you a list of activities to help them get on track. We can also guide you to available resources and information on how to get a more involved assessment for your child.

You will receive an Ages and Stages Questionnaire at the following increments:  For infants: 2 or 4 months and every 2-4 months after. (If all milestones are met, every 4 months). Toddlers: 12, 16, 20 and 24 months OR 12, 18 and 24 months. Preschool: 30, 36, 48 and 60 months. All new students will be screened within their first month of enrollment and then at the appropriate increments.

Field Trips
We sometimes take short walking trips to explore our neighborhood to watch workers trim trees or new construction, find leaves, look at flowers, bugs, etc.  We have a four block perimeter set as our walking boundaries.  If we plan a trip to the library, fire department, etc., a permission slip will be required and may ask for parents to walk with us.  The Children’s Center does not take children on trips by bus or car. A walking excursion permission form is included in the registration packet.

Parent Involvement and Special Events
Parents are always welcome in our school. Many opportunities exist for parent involvement in the classrooms      including mystery reader, sharing cultures and careers, going on trips, helping with special projects, etc.  You may also get involved by becoming a room parent and/or participating in school events and fundraisers. There are several events during the year of special interest to parents. These are:

  • Halloween Parade      
  • Christmas Program
  • Open House               
  • Back to School Night
  • Fundraisers                
  • Parent’s Day
  • Pre-K Graduation      
  • Teacher Appreciation Week              

Music Class
Our school offers a music class as part of our regular curriculum.  Each child will be assigned to a music time depending on her/his classroom.  The children will experience music through listening, singing, movement, playing instruments, and lots of fun.  The music teacher also works with the children at Christmas time to learn the music for our Christmas program. 

Jump Bunch
Jump Bunch is a preschool fitness program provides great exercise, but in a structured format that introduces a wide variety of sports, and builds coordination, balance and confidence. This program has an extra fee that is paid directly to Jump Bunch. 
 
Each class is once a week for 30 minutes and includes warm-ups, floor exercises, the sport activity of the week, stretching, then cool down. We don’t make it competitive for preschoolers; it’s a completely positive experience. It’s amazing how this early exposure makes kids more willing to give new sports a try as they get older.

Brochures are available on the front door for more information or to register.

Chapel Time
St. Michael’s Children’s Center knows the importance of sharing God’s love.  Chapel time is held on alternating days, once a week in the church at St. Michael’s. It includes prayer, a Bible story, and   singing our “church” songs. This gives every child the opportunity to hear God’s word and also to experience attending church.

Birthdays
We love to celebrate birthdays!  Families are   encouraged to bring in a small treat for morning snack to celebrate your child’s birthday with her/his class.  We suggest small muffins or cupcakes, fruit, ice cream cups, cookies, or other individual treats.  Please speak to your child’s teacher to set up the date to celebrate the birthday at school.

Cell Phones
We request that parents refrain from cell phone use during their time in the school.   

Disputes
If a dispute arises which cannot be resolved between the school and parents, both parties must agree to third party arbitration.  Decisions made in arbitration are final.

Disaster Preparedness
Should an emergency such as earthquake, fire, flood, power failure, etc., occur during school hours we have made plans to care for your children.

We conduct evacuation and drop drills on a regular basis.  The fire department has assured us that our building is one of the safest places to be during an earthquake.  We have an adequate supply of food and water on the premises. We also have cots and blankets available if it becomes necessary to keep the children overnight.

We will release your child only to those persons listed on the emergency card in her/his emergency kit or the emergency list in the Director’s office.  Please be sure this information is current and all cards contain the same information.  In the event of a disaster, the children will be kept at school until you, or a person designated by you, call for them.  Although we know parents will hurry to retrieve their children, the teachers will remain on duty as long as needed.

Our alternate site is Richmond Street School, which is on the corner of Richmond and Mariposa Street in El Segundo.  This school is approximately three blocks from our center.

In conformity with standards set up by neighboring         elementary schools, we require parents to send in a Comfort Kit and a gallon of water for their child. The kit is stored in the front of the school and will be wheeled out in an emergency. Should the child be detained, having some familiar items will be comforting.  Every September, your child’s kit will be sent home so freshness can be assured.  Kits must be in the classrooms the second week of the school.

Comfort Kit Contents and Instructions for Preschool
Every family is required to prepare a 2 gallon freezer zip-lock plastic bag for each child enrolled in school.  The bag should be labeled with your child’s name and date of preparation.

Each kit should contain the following items:

  • 1 small hand towel
  • 1 sweatshirt with hood or tightly woven sweater (rolled tight)
  • 4 moist towelettes (individually wrapped) or “wet ones”
  • 10 Band-Aids
  • 4 small packs of snack- commercially sealed with a one year shelf life
  • 1 plastic 30 gallon trash bag
  • 4 emergency 3x5 cards with 2 safety pins

On Front in bold letters, print child’s name and any long term medical or dietary needs.
On Back, print address, phone, 3 persons allowed to pick up child. Include your out-of-state area contact person with the phone number.

  • A supply of special dietary or medical needs (if necessary)
  • 4 diapers (if necessary)
  • 3 small photographs of family “happy memories” and a short note, (place in a small zip lock bag)
  • A small toy, book or stuffed animal to comfort your child 

Comfort Kit Contents for Infant/Toddler
Every family is required to prepare a 2 gallon freezer zip-lock plastic bag for each child enrolled in school.  The bag should be labeled with your child’s name and date of preparation.

Each kit should contain the following items:

  •  1 small receiving blanket
  • 1 small travel pack of wipes
  • 1 metal feeding spoon
  • 2 small packets of snacks (or formula and water for 48 hours)
  • 4 small jars of ready to eat food
  • 1 full change of clothes including socks
  • 6 disposable diapers
  • 2 emergency 3x5 cards with 2 safety pins

On Front in bold letters, print child’s name and any long term medical or dietary needs.
On Back- print address, phone, 3 persons allowed to pick up child. Include your out-of-state area contact person with the phone number. 

  • A supply of special dietary or medical needs (if necessary)
  • A small item for your child to cuddle

Additional Information just for
the Infant/Toddler Room

Arrival and Departure
Upon arrival at the Center, you will be asked to complete the Daily Log for your child, which includes the date and any special information for the staff. You will also inform the staff how the child’s night and morning went.  The staff then continues to use this form throughout the day to track meals, naps, diaper changes, and other events.  The normal drop off procedure includes completion of this form, signing the child in and putting her/his food and belongings away.  Please help your child settle in by making sure they have a dry diaper and setting up breakfast or warming bottles if needed. Children should have dry diapers when you leave them. If your child has not eaten and will be needing food immediately, please place them in a high chair and get their food out for them. If they need a bottle immediately and the staff are busy feeding other children, please be prepared to stay a few minutes if necessary to feed them until staff can take over. Babies should be removed from car seats in the back room to avoid other children climbing in and on the seats.

When you pick up, please take your child to the back room to put them in their seats as well. Take a few moments at the end of the day to read the log and check in with staff about your child’s day.

We ask that each family bring a small empty bag in which to return dirty clothes, utensils, bottles, etc.

Needs and Services Plan
Included in each registration packet is a Needs and Services Plan form.  This form gives us important information about your child’s eating and sleeping schedule and any special needs she/he may have.  This form is revised quarterly for accuracy. The staff uses this to guide them in the best care for your child.

 Schedule
We do not stick to a strict schedule in the infant area.  With children this young it is important to let the needs of the child be our guide each day.  Our infants maintain the feeding and sleeping schedules as set up by the parents in the Needs and Services Plan.  Diapers will be checked every two hours and changed as needed. At your request a copy of the Daily Log will be given to you each day.

Staff will offer various stimulating activities both indoor and outdoor during the children’s waking hours. The older children, who are able to handle a more structured day, will follow a basic morning schedule of inside and outside play followed by lunch and nap. 

Music Time
Our infants and toddlers love music!  One day each week our music teacher goes into the infant/toddler class for music time.  The children experience music through listening, singing, movement, and playing simple rhythm instruments.  They really enjoy this time and look forward to it each week.

Supplies
Parents supply all food, formula, wipes, and diapers for their child. All food and bottles must be ready to serve. All formula bottles must be prepared at home for the day.  Breast milk may be sent in frozen and we will defrost it as needed. Please use a cap on the bottles and make sure they are labeled.

Food for toddlers should be cut small pieces to avoid choking. Please see the following supply list.  You will be alerted when supplies are running low.  Please label all food with your child’s name.  Infant mealtimes vary with the schedules set up by parents.  For young toddlers, lunch is at 12 noon.  Each child needs to bring several changes of clothes as well as a blanket. Crib sheets are provided. Blankets will be sent home each week to be laundered.

Infant Supply List                            

  • 2 sets of clothing                                
  • Socks/booties                                      
  • 2 large plastic bibs                              
  • Drool cloths                                        
  • Jacket or sweater                                  
  • 1 small blanket for bed                       
  • Diapers                                                
  • Wipes                                                 
  • Food

Toddler Supply List   

  • 2 sets of clothing
  • 2 large plastic bibs
  • Jacket or sweater    
  • 1 small blanket for cot  
  • Diapers   
  • Wipes   
  • Food/lunch   
  • Cups/drinks