Child's Play is a cooperative preschool whose educational philosophy is based on the Developmental Model. This model is based on the fact that children learn through play, at a pace that is individual and appropriate to their age and development. Parents work with teachers to create a high quality early educational experience for our children in a safe, respectful, supportive, and nurturing environment. In order to ensure success in this mission, we strive to follow the guiding principles below:
Parent involvement in the classroom is required and encouraged. This involvement supports the teachers, broadens the parents' understanding of their children's education and developmental stage, and strengthens the relationship between children and teachers, and between families and teachers.
Our success is dependent on parents taking an initiative and maintaining their commitment to the varied tasks involved in running the school. Each of us takes responsibility for understanding and executing our co-op job and abiding by and implementing the policies and procedures of the co-op.
The Education Coordinator and Teachers, with input and recommendations from the Coop Ed. Specialist and Executive Board, have ultimate responsibility for the educational program, including curriculum and classroom design. Because of this, it is imperative that our staff be highly qualified professionals who embrace the developmental education model and are fully supported and compensated appropriately.
Free and open communication is a priority. This ensures a climate of trust and cooperation within the co-op, between parents and between teachers and parents. It enables the school to function effectively and fosters the sense of community that we value. Except for matters involving family confidentiality, all committee and Executive Board meetings will be publicized and open to the general co-op community and the minutes will be made available. Parents are expected and encouraged to bring any ideas or concerns they may have, including classroom issues or their committee work, to their class rep, teacher, the Co-Presidents or Executive Board. When necessary, the Coop Ed. Specialist will act as a liaison within groups or between groups or individuals.
Although the cooperative ideal of consensus is not always practical or even possible, we strive for the most open and inclusive process possible. Parents and teachers work cooperatively to make decisions that affect and guide the school. Parents are required to attend their committee meetings and All-School meetings and are encouraged to express their ideas, concerns and opinions. For the co-op community to function well and set a good example for our children, we must all speak and listen to one another with respect and an open mind.
We value the cooperative community and strive to encourage and maintain that sense of community. All school community activities, whether formal or informal, welcome and include the most members of the co-op community possible. Less structured opportunities for families to interact, like visiting at the playground fence at pick-up, are also valued and encouraged.
Child's Play is committed to the concept of diversity and to preparing our children to be successful citizens in a diverse world. Diversity is an integral part of the curriculum in each classroom. Our work on the Board, the committees and with policy development is reflective of our commitment to diversity.
Child's Play ("CP") has always been an innovative program, with many firsts to its credit. In December of 1978, a group of twelve parents with toddlers in home playgroup situations decided that they wanted to enroll their children in a program for 2 ½ - 3 year olds, several mornings a week, in an extended play group situation. There was just one slight problem - this kind of program did not exist! Children could not attend nursery school until their 3rd birthday. Because of this, virtually all nursery schools adopted a policy of showing preference to those already three prior to September thirtieth and would reserve a place for a child under three; only if no older children were available; and only if the parent agreed to pay a full year's tuition while the child was not in the program. Therefore, twenty-five percent of children would be excluded from being placed with the same group of children they would enter kindergarten within two years' time.
So, this group of twelve parents began to discuss the possibility of starting a program for this age group. Their ideal model was as follows:
- A three morning per week program (9-11:30)
- Located within an approved facility (Fox Point Neighborhood Center)
- 10-15 children (age 2 ½ - 3)
- One qualified teacher (early childhood background preferred)
- One parent assistant each day
- Provide a playgroup setting
- Play and learning opportunities
- Geared to the varying abilities and interests of the children.
In January of 1979, our founding parents contacted the day care licensing board and the Department of Education to inquire into proper certification. Day care licensing stated that because of a "loophole" in day care regulations, any program for children under three could be conducted without any certification as long as the program did not exceed four hours a day. The Department of Education concurred, but stated that as soon as any child in our program turned three, a certified nursery school program with a certified teacher would have to be provided for them, in an area completely separate from the rest of the children. Apparently, mixed-age grouping was unheard of back then, at least for 2 ½ - 3 year-olds!
This determined group of twelve continued working to solve this dilemma by writing to, meeting with and speaking to educators throughout the state, including the Commissioner of Education and various government officials. Basically, they were told they could establish a program, not requiring approval, where very young two-year-olds turning three in the second semester of the school year would be treated as part of the two-year old group, for all intents and purposes. So the group, called Child's Play, began. A teacher was hired in August of 1979 and a playgroup began, but they continued their plight, even contacting the Providence Journal. Because of this dedication, changes to the law were explored and proposals were made to the legislature. Child's Play ultimately won its battle, which opened the door for 2 ½ -3 year olds.
In the spring of 1979, these parents of Child's Play were so pleased with their school that they decided to expand to include three and four-year-olds. So once again, they forged ahead and hired a second teacher and started this new program. Eventually, both programs were certified and licensed under the dual regulations of the Dept. of Ed. and DCYF.
In 1985, the parents of Child's Play decided that the Fox Point Neighborhood Center was no longer suitable for their needs and began to search for a new location. They found the Central Congregational Church - a beautiful space with its own play yard, in a quiet, safe side street, with little traffic. But there was work to be done to get the approval of the Dept. of Ed. and DCYF. Neighbors had to be notified, zoning and building boards of review had to contacted, as well as a myriad of inspectors, etc. All this work began in May of 1985 and by September (after a few problems with our fire alarm system, which caused a week's delay to the start of school) Child's Play officially reopened in this wonderful, new home.
May of 1986 brought the beginning of mandatory fingerprinting laws to nursery schools in Rhode Island and Child's Play was deeply involved in the discussions and hearings that took place on the issue. We even joined in a class-action suit with other area co-ops in an attempt to become exempt because we were a parent run school. But when the laws took effect, Child's Play readily complied for the benefit of the children.
Over the years, many people expressed an interest in expanding our program to include a kindergarten. It remained a dream until 1989, when a group of parents with the same dedication and perseverance of the founding parents decided to make it a reality. With a lot of determination and a few more battles, Child's Play kindergarten came to be, one year later. Another first - a licensed kindergarten, run by parents!
In the meantime, a loosely organized toddler group run by the church was being offered on Tuesday and Thursday mornings in the same space our 2 ½ - 3 ½ year-olds occupied on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Displeased with the way this program was run and concerned that visitors to Child's Play would assume this group was part of our school, it was suggested that we incorporate this group into our program. So with church approval, another first came to be - a licensed, parent cooperative toddler program!
We grew from a single group of fifteen 2 ½ year-olds to four groups: our Toddler, Nursery, Preschool and Kindergarten children and their 55 families. Our staff grew from one to a staff of four teachers and three assistant teachers.
In the spring of 1995, another group of dedicated parents and staff members worked at addressing our frequent growing pains and continue to do so today, as part of our Long Range Planning Committee.
The structure of the co-op creates unique and very real challenges: parents are "administrators" in an educational environment; our "administrators" change from year to year; and parents are both employers and co-workers to the staff. Understanding that parents play these dual and occasionally conflicting roles, the co-op decided to hire an adviser with professional expertise in early childhood education to serve as an objective third party in 1997. The Educational Adviser is a source of continuity and an invaluable facilitator of communication. In 2000, the co-op voted to make the Educational Adviser a permanent position.
During the summer of 1998, we spent $20,000 to make our facility lead-safe due to state regulations. Each year, we undergo a lead inspection as required by the Rhode Island State Department of Health.
Changes to our Kindergarten classroom occurred during the summer of 1999. We enlarged the space to provide more flexibility within the classroom for large group meetings and activities, as well as better visual contact for the teachers and the children. The construction project cost over $8,000.
2000 - 2001
In 2000-2001, Child's Play prepared for accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). NAEYC grants accreditation to programs that have demonstrated a commitment to providing high quality educational programs for young children. Emphasis is placed on the quality of interactions between the staff, children and families, with primary consideration given to the nature of the child's experience. Developmental appropriateness, health, safety, staffing, staff qualifications, communication with families, physical environment and administration are also reviewed during the accreditation process. Child's Play spent several months in the fall and winter of this year in self-study, self-education and the written application process.
2001 - 2002
The 2001-2002 school year was a busy one! Most notable was a positive NAEYC validation visit in the fall of 2001. So, on December 31, 2001, Child's Play became a NAEYC accredited program. A Salary Review Committee was also formed in the later part of the 2001-2002 academic year. The committee met over the summer and fall to study the compensation structure for generic teaching positions at Child's Play and to evaluate the specific salaries of our current staff. Their recommendations were then presented to the Executive Board.
The kindergarten classroom experienced more renovations in order for the school to pass inspection with the State Fire Marshall. One window was changed so that the children could exit freely by opening the egress in a single motion, and a landing was created outside of the window. The entire project cost just over $6700; and the church contributed $1000 towards this. Finally, changes were made in the Fundraising Committee. A co-chaired position became part of the Executive Board, and the committee was expanded to include at least eight co-op members. The committee established our first Annual Fund campaign, which was a huge success. The spring auction, too, brought in more than expected. We hoped to target some of this year's surplus to new playground equipment.
2002 - 2003
This academic year, our board worked on several major changes. We refurbished our playground to make it safer and more updated for our children, and our parents put a great deal of time and effort into this project. We now had a playground that is structurally sound and physically challenging but safe for all of our various ages. We also updated our record keeping and requirements for parent background checks because Child's Play is a cooperative, and parents serve in the classroom. Prior to the middle of this year, we only required one parent in a family to undergo a background check, regardless of who would be serving in the classroom. Now, we required any parent who may serve in the classroom to have a CANTS clearance check, fingerprinting, a TB and rubella test (if applicable). In this way, we further insured the safety of our children.
2005 - 2006
The Executive Board worked on remedying violations cited by the State Fire Marshall. We went before the Fire Appeals Board and had the Kindergarten door granted a variance, put in new fire-safe stairs and installed lighted exit signs. The church assumed responsibility for hard-wiring the fire alarm system. The Board continued to work on ways to develop the sense of community within the co-op, as well as encourage an understanding of all aspects of the cooperative school environment.
2007 - 2008
In the spring of 2007, we were one of the first two schools in Rhode Island to become re-accredited under the new requirements set forth by NAEYC. Also, our wonderful kindergarten teacher of 13 years, Andrew Thompson, moved to Philadelphia. We hired back Elizabeth Callery Orton (who was our kindergarten teacher prior to Andrew) to replace him. Unfortunately we were not able to fill a kindergarten class for the year but we kept Elizabeth on at a part-time basis. She worked in the preschool class most of the time, working with the children in small groups on several different projects. The main focus of the Board this year was to try to get the kindergarten class up and running again through outreach and advertising within the community. In addition, LRP compiled a list of job descriptions and monthly duties of the co-op so that we could better utilize talents and energies within the our parents. Finally, our much loved Toddler and Nursery teacher, Danielle Dispagne Weiner retired from CP after 18 years.
2008 - 2009
Child's Play continued to be a high quality, well respected parent-run cooperative school. In our effort to continue looking for ways to improve the preschool experience of our children and their families, it was decided to add a teaching assistant to the Toddler program. This would allow us to enroll more children in the toddler class, which was in high demand, and to improve consistency in the classroom. The deadline of when families are notified of their admission status was changed to be more aligned with other nursery schools in the area. Due to lower enrollment in the additional and extended day options in the Preschool class, Nursery class families were given the option of adding or extending their days. Long Range Planning was very active in several areas, including: gathering data regarding plans for the front room space vacated by the kindergarten program, developing/revising the Child's Play diversity statement, compiling and revising jobs and job descriptions and, beginning to work on the long range plan for Child's Play. Fundraising efforts were once again very successful (despite the economic downturn).
As we approached our 30th year, Child's Play was as strong as ever. We anticipated full enrollment in all of our classrooms the following year, and consistently had waiting lists for most classes.
2009 - 2010
This year, we celebrated an important milestone at Child's Play, our 30th year! Our fundraising committee worked hard to commemorate this important anniversary and to reach out to as many alumni as possible. We began a "Friends of Child's Play" Facebook page, and started to create a master list of our alumni. However, compiling all of these names and addresses proved to be a larger project than anticipated, so we decided to continue to work on this project over the next school year.
At our annual spring auction, we celebrated not only the school's anniversary but Head Teacher Mona Braza's 30th year at Child's Play as well! We were pleased that many alumni families, including a founding family, joined us for the celebration. The evening was a great success and enjoyed by many.
In 2009, the State of Rhode Island rolled out a new quality rating system called Bright Stars. In the spirit of always being at the forefront of new educational standards, we took the initiative to be one of the first preschools to earn the Bright Stars designation, earning a four star rating. In addition, we were recognized by the State of Rhode Island as one of only five programs (and the only cooperative school) to hold both the Bright Stars designation and accreditation by NAEYC.
We also worked hard on updating our website this year. A sub-committee was formed and a brand new, user-friendly website was launched in the Spring of 2010. One of the primary goals of the website was to include more information for both prospective and current families.
2010 - 2011
Child's Play had a terrific year. We hit full enrollment for the first time in several years and ended the year in a financial surplus. This was also facilitated by our Fundraising Committee, which hosted our first "Kindergarten Freakout," in addition to other lucrative events. Parents from public, independent, and charter schools were invited to speak about the process of choosing a kindergarten. The event was well received by families throughout the Providence community.
We hired Joanne Nicholson as our new Assistant Teacher for the Nursery and extended day Preschool classes. She had a fantastic first year and it was hard to imagine that she hadn't been here forever. Our Buildings and Grounds Committee worked hard at improving the play yard. A beautiful new fence was installed and the playground equipment underwent a safety inspection. All the work done in the play yard made it a safe place for our children to play for years to come.
After much discussion, we decided not to go ahead with the new Department of Education (DOE) licensing system. The voluntary licensing hadn't yet taken into account the unique aspects of a co-op. We continued to be licensed by DCYF and NAEYC and to offer a top-notch early childhood program.
We continued on our path of digitizing and streamlining processes within the co-op. For the first time, the Child's Play handbook was made available on-line, with printed copies by request. Long Range Planning held initial meetings on our database and archiving options that will continue into coming years. We changed the Job Transition meetings to allow greater discussion and reflection upon how to improve things in the coming year.
Child's Play had a busy year! One major focus of our community's attention was environmental concern over the church basement and its frequent leaks. The Board conducted extensive research into remediation strategies, along with medical concerns, and the parent body voted to refrain from using the basement until the issues had been resolved. The Board was in constant communication with the church on the status of the basement and repairs, especially the Plants and Properties committee through Ed Bishop. Child's Play is grateful to the church for taking on the responsibility of making repairs within the basement and undertaking the task of conducting Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) testing throughout the basement and the classrooms. At the end of the year, the church shared the IAQ testing results from RI Analytical, Specialists in Environmental Services, and found that overall, the quality of air in both the classrooms and basement was satisfactory.
At the beginning of the year, we hired Alex Pearson as our new Assistant Teacher for the Toddler class. He was a wonderful addition to the community and presented a strong male role model for our youngest students. Unfortunately, he moved on to take a position that would further his career in early childhood education in late December. We were fortunate enough to then hire Cheryl Flanagan.
Our Fundraising Committee continued to reach out to alumni families by inviting them to our Fall Pancake Breakfast and Spring Auction, both well received. They also introduced the Great Child's Play Coin Hunt, which was hugely successful and created yet another surplus in our budget, along with their other fundraising efforts. The Long Range Planning Committee developed an Alumni Coordinator position to help develop alumni relations as well as create and maintain an alumni database; which would begin the following year. The Publicity Committee, along with our new Web Master, made significant improvements to our website and Facebook page, including making admissions paperwork accessible online. The Buildings and Grounds committee continued to improve the play yard by adding additional mulch and repairing the roof on the playground structure.
The entire teaching staff and Educational Adviser worked tirelessly to prepare for re-accreditation by the NAEYC. The staff also earned Child's Play a five star rating with Bright Stars. We were incredibly proud of our staff for maintaining a high quality program while caring for our children.
We had another busy year, filled with many traditions and new experiences. Over the summer and early fall, we hired two new Assistant Teachers - Megan Bisset for our Preschool class and Heather Barreto for our Toddler class. Both experienced in early childhood education, Megan and Heather joined our community seamlessly, bringing new enthusiasm and fresh ideas to our classes, and contributing to the nurturing culture of our school. We were lucky to have them as a part of Child's Play!
Our parent body was also hard at work. Our Communications Committee, led by a motivated chairperson, helped update the format and distribution of our Parent Handbook and bi-monthly newsletter. They also worked closely with our Admissions team to further improve the usefulness and accessibility of our registration process. Our Admissions team improved the touring process for prospective families and our Finance team carefully oversaw the school budget, income, and expenses.
In late fall, our Special Events Committee held our second Kindergarten Freak Out, which was also open to the public. Our Fundraising Committee executed several successful campaigns and two wonderful annual events - our Fall Pancake Breakfast and Spring Auction. The Long Range Planning Committee worked closely with a new Alumni Coordinator to foster stronger relationships between alumni and the school, and also began to explore broader issues such as health care benefits for staff. The Buildings and Grounds Committee had a long, snowy winter of shoveling, and worked on improvements to the weather-battered play yard in the spring.
We continued to provide a high quality educational program for students, with strong parental involvement as keys to the cooperative model. Our Board was particularly productive this year, with each officer and director dedicated to contributing his or her expertise for the greater good of the school.
Our Admissions team continued to improve the management of all admissions data and paperwork and enhanced our touring process to best represent the culture and expectations of our cooperative school for prospective families.
Our Fundraising committee had a stellar year, with very successful ongoing campaigns and larger events. Our Special Events committee assisted Fundraising with their events, as well as hosting their own community building activities. Our Alumni Coordinator focused on building a comprehensive database of alumni to be used in the future.
Our Technology Chair revamped our website and assisted several committees such as Fundraising, utilizing technology to streamline their efforts. Our Marketing team created content-rich, visually stimulating newsletters and provided support to other committees as needed. Our Buildings & Grounds committee kept our space safe and enjoyable for the entire community.
Our Long Range Planning committee focused on several major topics this year. Job titles for key staff were updated to better align with current regulations and best practices - our former Head Teacher is now known as our Education Coordinator, and our former Educational Advisor is now known as our Cooperative Educational Specialist. The LRP Committee also worked diligently to update all staff job descriptions.
Our program is an inclusive, comprehensive developmental program that is committed to creating a sense of community for our children, families and staff. Our primary goal is to create and maintain a warm, loving, enriching environment that fosters positive identity and values while enhancing the development of each child. We respect the diverse backgrounds of our program's families.
Our program provides a wide range of hands-on learning experiences designed to enhance the social, emotional, physical and cognitive development of each child. The philosophy behind our program is that young children learn best by doing. Learning requires active thinking and experimenting through play activities, to find out how things work and to learn firsthand about the world in which they live. This is true of the infant who explores her world through her senses and it is true for the older child who is beginning to understand that words describe thoughts and feelings. Play enables children to achieve the key goals of our curriculum. Play is the medium through which children learn best.
Our program philosophy is reflected in the work of many great thinkers. Teachers are familiar with them and implement their philosophies as they work with children. The key foundation of the program is children's play. Play being experiential has been strongly influenced by Dewey. Teachers are familiar with the concepts of Maslow - they are aware of the concept of meeting children's basic needs before they can be encouraged to go forward. The beginning stages of Erikson's work (trust, autonomy and industry) are key to work with young children in the preschool years. Concepts of Reggio can be seen as the environment is used as the "third teacher", in the children's creative work and in the engagement of families.
Criteria for high quality early childhood programs, based upon accreditation guidelines developed by the National Association for the Education of young Children (NAEYC) are implemented throughout our program curriculum. These standards include specific guidance in areas such as teaching, relationships activities, learning centers, scheduling, routines and physical environment. The program is accredited by NAEYC.
Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP) is the underlying concept upon which the accreditation criteria were developed. This information was developed using state of the art research information as well as practical based evidence from the field of Early Childhood Education. Developmentally appropriate practices result from the process of professionals making decisions about the well-being and education of young children based upon three important concepts:
- Child development and learning
- Individual strengths, interests and needs of each child
- Cultural context of each family
Developmentally appropriate individual and group experiences enable each of our children to grow and progress at their own rate.
We use the "Creative Curriculum for Infants and Toddlers" and the "Creative Curriculum for Preschoolers", a model curriculum used across the nation, and aligned with the Rhode Island Early Learning and Development Standards. Domains in the RI Standards include: Physical Health and Development, Social Emotional, Language, Literacy, Cognitive, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies and Creative Arts. The Creative Curriculum framework is based upon what we know about how young children best learn, what they should learn (goals and objectives), how teachers and families work together to enhance that learning and specifically what the physical environment in the classroom should provide for the children.
A learning center approach is used. The physical environment is considered the third "teacher". There are various areas such as blocks, art, manipulatives, reading, writing, math, science, and dramatic play. Specific centers may vary slightly dependent upon individual classrooms and teachers design the learning centers and select enriching materials for each center. Specific themes or concepts are selected during curriculum planning. These are then used in fostering goals for the children.
Curriculum includes everything that happens in a program or classroom, including the daily schedule, the availability and use of materials, room arrangement, the outside environment, transitions between activities, the goals of the program for each individual, planned activities both inside and outside and the relationships between teachers and children.
Teachers play many roles as they implement an effective curriculum: environmental designer, nurturer, relationship developer, observer, facilitator, role model, co-player initiator, resource provider, provider of content. It is through utilizing these various roles at the appropriate time that the teacher delivers an effective, individualized curriculum.
We value diversity and respect differences among all children, families and staff. We are committed to an anti-biased curriculum and we work hard towards the following goals as stated in the Anti-Biased Curriculum; Tools for Empowering Young Children:
- Nurture each child's construction of a knowledgeable, confident self-identity and group identity
- Promote each child's comfortable, empathetic interaction with people from diverse backgrounds
- Foster each child's critical thinking about bias
- Cultivate each child's ability to stand up for him/herself and for others in the face of bias
(COPYRIGHT: Louise Derman Sparks 1992)
We welcome all children as full participants.
For young children, learning is occurring in every area of development and education occurs at every age. From birth onward, the foundation is laid for each new experience to build upon the child's past experiences.
Child's Play reflects the following beliefs:
- We believe that childhood is a unique and valuable stage of the human life cycle
- We appreciate and support the close ties between child and family
- We recognize that children are best understood in the context of family and society
- We respect the dignity, worth and uniqueness of each individual
- We are dedicated to helping children achieve their full potential in the context of relationships that are based on knowledge of child development, as well as on what we know about the strengths, interests and needs of each individual child
- We recognize that children are active learners, drawing on direct physical and social experiences as well as culturally transmitted knowledge to construct their own understanding of the world around them
- We recognize play as an important vehicle for children's social, emotional, physical and cognitive development.
Child's Play uses the Teaching Strategies GOLD Assessment System. This system helps our teachers track and pinpoint your child's progress through each developmental level of social-emotional, physical, language, cognitive, literacy, mathematics, science, social studies and creative development throughout the school year. Results will be used to monitor your child's developmental learning so we can guide our curriculum planning and decision-making in alliance with the Rhode Island Early Learning and Development Standards, Creative Curriculum, and NAEYC Accreditation Standards. This process helps us to identify strengths and areas of needed growth for children. At times this information may help us identify the need for additional support services or additional supports outside of our program (i.e.: speech, OT, etc). We also use these results to report and communicate with our families at Parent-Teacher conferences.
Our assessments are ongoing and occur throughout the school day. They include teacher observation and collection of samples of your child's learning throughout the school year. We seek parent feedback as to how your child is learning outside the school environment in the form of questionnaires sent home in the registration package, formally twice during the school year at Parent-Teacher Conferences as well as informally throughout the year.
Our teachers do not do developmental screening. However, we work with the Providence Child Outreach Program to provide the opportunity for children three to five years old to be screened by their team within the first three months of school. Screening includes developmental, speech/language, vision and hearing. Results of these screenings are only given to Child's Play and/or the child's doctor with written permission from parent/guardians. Information is provided to Toddler Parents regarding Early Intervention at the beginning of the year and/or if the need arises through the year.
Formal parent/teacher conferences are scheduled twice a year, one in the fall and one in the spring. Parents receive a written report which is based on the goals and objectives used in our assessment system (Teaching Strategies GOLD) and individual goals set by parents/guardians and teachers. Parents can also ask for a conference at any point throughout the year as need arises.
One of the primary obligations of our parents is the duty day. Duty Days are when parents act as assistants to the teachers in the classrooms. They provide a wonderful way for you to become involved in your child's preschool experience. You get to see and share as your children play, learn, grow and form relationships with others. You also get a chance to enrich your parenting skills as you learn from the teachers, each other, and the children. Primarily, you are in the classroom to help the teachers maintain a safe and warm environment by providing the children with the emotional well-being necessary to maintain their intellectual development.
In order to be on duty in the classroom, at least one parent in your family is required to complete CANTS clearance and fingerprinting.
Parental immunization requirements include:
- 2 doses of MMR (measles, mumps, rubella for women 35 and younger)
- 1 dose of Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis)
- 2 doses of Varicella
- A yearly influenza vaccine.
Note: Parents born before 1980 are not required to get the Varicella vaccine; if you have had Varicella (chickenpox or shingles) you can provide proof from your licensed healthcare provider. If someone cannot be vaccinated against a disease for a specific reason you must provide a Medical Immunization Exemption certificate completed by a licensed health care provider. If already immune to a disease, immunity can be verified with laboratory testing (also called a titer).
Parents will be provided with a Duty Day schedule and a more detailed listing of responsibilities from the Classroom Representatives. The following gives a brief overview of responsibilities: On Duty Days, parents should arrive to school by 8:40am in order to help the teachers set up the classroom, get an overview of the day's activities, be ready for student arrival (drop-off is between 8:55am-9:05am) and assist them with their belongings. During the morning, you'll be asked to help supervise activities, interact with the children, help with snack and perform general clean up, as needed. Parents are encouraged to bring something to share with the class: a story to read, a song to teach, an instrument to play, a special project, etc. (Please check with the teacher beforehand for appropriateness and fitting into the day's schedule.) Parents should refer to the Child's Play Discipline Policy for guidance in their interactions with children. Parents are finished with their Duty Day when all the children in their class have been picked up, the classroom is in order and equipment has been put away. Please refer to the Arrival and Departure Procedure for more details.
Each class has a Classroom Representative who makes out the Duty Day schedule. For safety and other reasons, siblings are not allowed at school on your Duty Day, so please make other arrangements for them. The children and teachers need your full attention in order for the classroom to run smoothly. If, for any reason, you cannot do your Duty Day, it is your responsibility to find another Child's Play parent in your class to take your place. You may not send babysitters, grandparents, relatives or anyone other than another Child's Play parent to take your place. The teacher should be informed when substitutions or switches are made.
On your Duty Day, you are required to bring a fruit or vegetable, and/or a healthy carbohydrate. (See snack policy)
A substitute schedule is prepared for the toddler, nursery and preschool classes by the Class Representatives. The substitute duty parent is needed if the teacher or teacher's assistant is unable to attend school due to illness or emergency. If you are unable to make your substitute day, you are responsible for finding a replacement other than the substitute parent.
Education Coordinator / Teacher - Dual Role
DCYF, BrightStars and RIDE require that each program have a person assigned to the role of Education Coordinator. This person shall be responsible for:
- The development and implementation of the early learning and development program, including the classroom curriculum;
- The organization of children's groups; and
- Staff performance.
This role may be assumed by the program administrator or a teacher who meets the following qualifications:
- Option One: has a current RI Department of Education teacher certification for grades pre-kindergarten to second grade
- Option Two: has a Bachelor's or Master's Degree in a related field, such as child development, elementary education or special education and twenty-four credits in early childhood education
- Option Three: has a current RI Department of Education teacher certification for early childhood special education, which includes early childhood certification
According to these regulations, the Education Coordinator should have "a minimum of three months supervised teaching experience in a licensed/approved early childhood program (student teaching may fulfill this requirement)." However, Child's Play requires 3 – 5 years teaching experience as well as educational supervision and administrative experience with 5 years' experience (preferred).
At some schools, the Education Coordinator functions as an independent role, but at Child's Play, we have the dual role of Education Coordinator/Classroom Teacher. At Child's Play, this position will be defined as below.
- The Education Coordinator/Teacher will perform his/her required duties as follows:
- The Education Coordinator/Teacher will be present on site during most school hours
- The Education Coordinator/Teacher will be out of his/her classroom not more than 1 hour per week and only when required adult/child ratios can be maintained.
- The Education Coordinator, along with the Co-op Education Specialist, will provide regular supervision and annual evaluations of all staff with the opportunity for and consideration of parent feedback.
- The Education Coordinator will be responsible for disseminating, and relaying all regulatory/licensing, BrightStars and Accreditation guidelines to the Board. The Education Coordinator will inform the Board of any instances where the Co-op is not in compliance with DCYF or RIDE regulations; or BrightStars or NAEYC Accreditation requirements.
- While an environment of constructive input from Co-op parents is encouraged, the Education Coordinator, in consultation with the Co-op Ed Specialist, will have the authority and responsibility for developing and implementing the educational/developmental curriculum of the program.
- The Education Coordinator will follow the educational/developmental philosophy stated in the Child's Play Mission Statement and Guiding Principles. The Education Coordinator will notify the Board of any curriculum changes that differ from our play-centered philosophy.
- The Board maintains the right to designate the Education Coordinator for the Co-op, as well as the right to hire or terminate any staff member including the Education Coordinator.
- The Education Coordinator will be compensated based on experience, qualifications and responsibilities.
Education Coordinator Job Description
- BA or MA in Early Childhood Education preferred; or BA or MA in a related field such as Child Development, Elementary Ed or Special Ed with 24 credits in Early Childhood Education
- Current RI Early Childhood Certificate
- RIELS Level III/RIELDS certificate preferred or plan to complete within 1 year of hire
- Prior experience in a NAEYC accredited program preferred; or strong working knowledge of NAEYC accreditation
- Strong working knowledge of BrightStars
- 3 – 5 years teaching experience as well as educational supervision and administrative experience; 5 years preferred.
- Ensure the educational philosophy of the school is maintained including educating parents and staff in that philosophy
- Supervise educational programs of and curriculum planning for all classrooms
- Has input in and final approval of educational policies
- Responsible for licensing renewals
- Schedule and/or meet with licensing agents, inspectors, Accreditation and/or BrightStars evaluators/specialists as necessary.
- Ensure that regular emergency drills are conducted
- Responsible for overseeing NAEYC Accreditation is maintained (maintain files, complete annual reports, re-accreditation, etc. with input from Co-op/Education Specialist) and monitoring that staff continually implement accreditation criteria.
- Responsible for overseeing BrightStars quality rating is maintained (complete annual report, renewals, apply for grants, etc. with input from Co-op Education Specialist) and monitoring that staff continually implement BrightStars standards.
- Oversee and monitor classroom design (make sure classroom environments are appropriate) and environmental safety.
- Guide and monitor Building and Grounds committee
- Order all school equipment and materials with input from staff
- Participate in the recruitment, selection and, if necessary, termination of staff
- Oversee staff files (medical, criminal record check, CANTS, professional development)
- Assist with staff orientation
- Observe, supervise, evaluate and provide guidance for staff along with Co-op Education Specialist
- Work with Co-op Education Specialist to do staff evaluations
- Work with Co-op Education Specialist to plan/facilitate Staff Meetings and In-Service Day
Responsibilities to the Board
- Attend Board meetings
- Participate in Long Range Planning, Buildings & Grounds, Orientation, Planning and Transition meetings as well as other committee work as necessary
- Along with the Co-op Education Specialist, work with out-going and in-coming Co-Presidents to plan for and assist in transition meetings of co-op parent jobs
- Provide input on administrative issues
- Work with co-presidents on administrative jobs
- Work closely with co-presidents as needed throughout the year
Cooperative Education Specialist
Understanding that parents play dual and occasionally conflicting roles, the Cooperative Education Specialist provides professional expertise in early childhood education and administration to serve as a resource and objective third party for educational and administrative purposes.
The Cooperative Education Specialist is a source of continuity and an invaluable facilitator of communication. This provides an objective voice to the co-op and facilitates positive change. Teachers, parents and students are all served by the expertise of this advisor.
Core Competencies of the Cooperative Education Specialist:
- Credentials in early childhood education
- Experience in a variety of early childhood settings
- Broad knowledge in the field of early childhood education
- Communication/facilitation skills
- Accreditation facilitation
- Teacher and curricula evaluation
- Supervision skills
- Skills in working with parents
Cooperative Education Specialist Job Description
Education Coordinator Support:
- Mentor – act as a sounding board/professional resource to Education Coordinator as needed
- Act as a resource for professional development
- Work with the Education Coordinator to plan/facilitate Staff Meetings and In-Service Day
- Work with the Education Coordinator to do staff evaluations
- Supervision and evaluation of Education Coordinator
- Participate in the recruitment, selection, and, if necessary, termination of staff
- Perform new hire and on-going staff training as needed
- Assist with staff orientation
- Establish familiarity with, and understanding of, each classroom's dynamics
- Observe, supervise, evaluate and provide guidance for staff along with the Education Coordinator
- Work with the Education Coordinator to plan/facilitate Staff Meetings and In-Service Day
- Work with the Education Coordinator to do staff evaluations
- Act as a resource for professional development
- Attend classroom meetings at end of each All-School meeting
- Meet with classroom staff as needed
- Provide educational/developmental perspective for specific classroom issues (i.e. behavioral and developmental issues)
- In conjunction with Education Coordinator/Teachers advise parents of outside resources for individual special educational needs
- Mediate and/or facilitate communication between staff and parents, or parents and parents, around coop issues if necessary
- Assist in communicating Child's Play philosophy at New Family Orientation Night, first All School Meeting and at Open House
- Support Co-Presidents as requested on issues related to the educational program; and administrative and co-op issues
- Attend Board, Long Range and Finance meetings
- Attend other committee meetings at the discretion of the Co-Presidents and/or Education Coordinator
- Attend All School Meetings including classroom meetings:
- Be visible at meeting as a resource for parental questions
- Present information, staff training updates and relevant community events
- Provide support in selecting next year's job positions
- Work with out-going and in-coming Co-Presidents, along with the Education Coordinator, to plan for and assist in transition meetings of co-op parent jobs including committee chairs, board members and officers
- Assist in individual transitions as needed
- Develop and implement Class Rep Training
- Attend Orientation Planning Meeting and orientation Night for New Families
- Co-op Education Specialist will maintain on-going communication with the Co-Presidents and Education Coordinator
- Co-op Education Specialist will periodically meet with the Co-Presidents and Education Coordinator
- Co-op Education Specialist will present summary of work-to-date at December Board Meeting and a written summary at May Board Meeting providing accounting of specific job tasks
- Co-op Education Specialist will notify Co-Presidents at mid-year if all stated goals are at risk of not being completed for any reason
- Co-Presidents will solicit input from Education Coordinator, Staff, and Committee Chairs (having direct contact with the Co-op Education Specialist) and will provide evaluation and feedback to the Co-op Education Specialist in December and June
Teachers and Assistant Teachers
Child’s Play prides itself on hiring highly qualified, experienced, nurturing teachers and assistant teachers. Along with the Education Coordinator and the Co-op Education Specialist, the staff work together to develop and maintain a high quality program/curriculum based on the best early childhood practice as mandated by NAEYC Accreditation, BrightStars, The Rhode Island Early Learning and Development Standards, and licensing regulations. All Child’s Play staff has the appropriate early childhood credentials for their positions and participate in professional development opportunities which include workshops, seminars and conferences (a minimum of 20 hours per year is required by licensing). They all attend staff meetings throughout the year, as well as an In-Service Day at the end of the year. They are committed to the philosophy of the co-op and work together with parents to provide the best program for children.
Child's Play employs two teachers and two assistant teachers for the Toddler, Nursery and Preschool classes.
There are several systems in place to help you keep in touch with everything that's happening at Child's Play. The following will give you a quick glance at our communications network and how to best take advantage of it.
The school has one main telephone in the Preschool classroom. Our number is (401) 331-8443. Please call if you need to speak with a teacher or assistant teacher, or to let us know if your child is ill and won't be attending school. During the summer, an answering machine picks up and forwards all calls regarding Child's Play. If there is an emergency and you cannot reach anyone at school via the school phone, call the office of the Central Congregational Church at (401) 331-1960.
Each family receives an all-school address and phone directory ("Master Class List") at the beginning of the school year. Please keep yours handy! In the event that you need a duplicate copy, please contact the Secretary or Vice President of Admissions.
Communication with Teachers
Our teachers are always available to speak with you. During the rush of the morning when the children are settling in, it can be hard to stop to talk and remember everyone's special needs and/or arrangements for the day. Please drop a note to the teacher if you want to pass along information about such things as a special situation they should be aware of, or special needs for your child. You can contact them at home if you'd like to talk privately regarding an issue or situation. See your all-school directory for the teacher's phone numbers and email addresses.
Twice a year, we send a survey electronically for each family to complete. The Fall survey is a short check-in on the year to date. The Spring survey is a much more comprehensive survey including questions regarding our program, procedures, physical environment, administration, parent involvement, etc. This information is critical to our school improvement plan and completing each survey and providing feedback is considered one of your responsibilities as an active member of our parent cooperative. We expect 100% participation from families! The results are shared at All-School Meetings and information is given to the staff and respective committees/people to improve their work at school.
Class Representatives ("Class Rep")
Each class has a Class Representative whose child is in that class. Their primary job is to set the duty and substitute day schedules, help keep you in touch with all school activities, field any questions you may have about school, and be your representative to the Executive Board of the school. Your Class Rep is the person to talk to about any class-specific issues, such as ideas for activities, thoughts on how the class is running, any concerns that you may have, or input you'd like conveyed to the Executive Board. The Class Rep also works with the parents and teacher to set the agenda for the classroom meetings that occur after the All-School Meetings.
Child's Play has its own "Post Office" located in the rear cupboards of the Preschool classroom. The Post Office has mailboxes for the Co-Presidents, Admissions, Treasurer/Assistant Treasurer, Tuition Collector, Secretary, Fundraising and our Cooperative Education Specialist. Please use these boxes to send messages, leave information, or pay your tuition. Admissions applications are also located in the Post Office.
Each child has a classroom cubby. Cubbies are used to store your child's belongings during school hours and to get information & projects home to you. Please be sure to check your child's tote bag or back pack each afternoon so you don't miss important notices sent home! When you are on duty, remember to fill the kids' bags with items/papers from their cubbies at the end of the day.
Child's Play Newsletter
Child's Play has its own newsletter for parents and friends which is published five times a year and sent via email. It is written and produced by us, for us, about us. Inside you'll find news from the teachers about class activities and upcoming events, calendars of school and community activities, letters from the Co-Presidents and committee heads, and general stories of interest about Child's Play families.
We maintain a bulletin board directly inside the main school entrance for general news of interest, community activities, and reminders of upcoming events and meetings. Parents are welcome to use the bulletin board to post events, meetings, or notes of interest to the school. Please check regularly.
Child's Play E-mail
The Co-Presidents and Committee chairs may contact you via email regarding school events and general information. Please notify your class representative if you don't have an email account or check your email regularly. Each Board member/Committee has a Child's Play specific email address that they are to use for school business.
Child's Play Website
Our website www.childsplayri.org is continually updated with current information for our present community and prospective parents in their search for programs in our area.
As a member of the Child's Play cooperative, you will be attending meetings throughout the year pertaining to your committee's work and the general operation of the school. Some committees meet more frequently than others; some meet on an as-needed basis.
The Executive Board meets approximately once every four - six weeks. The Executive Board consists of the Co-Presidents, VP of Admissions, VP of Long Range Planning, Class Representatives, the Secretary, the Treasurer, the Alumni & Special Events Chair, Fundraising Co-chairs, Lead Teachers, the Education Coordinator and the Cooperative Education Specialist. Agendas for these meetings are posted one week in advance. The first half hour of every board meeting is open to all who wish to attend. If you are unable to attend but would like to have input in the meeting, speak with your Class Rep or the Co-Presidents one week prior to the meeting. Remember, this is your school, and you should be as active as possible!
The entire school meets formally five times a year. All-School Meetings are held to give everyone a broad look at the school and its direction, and often, to vote on important school related issues. Either before or after the All-School Meetings, the parents break out into classroom meetings with the teachers, as necessary. The last meeting of the year is our Annual Meeting, at which we vote on a proposed slate of officers for the following school year. Your school calendar has the dates of these very important meetings so you can plan well in advance to attend. Families are expected to attend all five All-School Meetings, however, you are allowed one excused absence during the school year. If you cannot attend a meeting, you must notify your Class Rep or a Co-President. If you miss a second meeting, you will be assessed a fine of $50 or 1 hour of co-op work in the school. Missing more than two meetings will result in a fine of $100 or 2 hours of co-op work in the school.
Parents as Public Relations
You are the best ambassadors for our school! We hope you enjoy Child's Play so much that you want to tell your friends and family about our wonderful, nurturing philosophy and atmosphere. If you would like to introduce someone to Child's Play and are unsure of how to proceed, please contact the Co-Presidents, VP of Admissions or our Tour Director.
Advertising, Promotions and Information Sharing
Each family brings a unique perspective and background to the co-op. To encourage community building and information flow, there are a number of ways to disseminate information among families in the school.
Current Child's Play families: To inform the co-op of upcoming events you're involved with, seek support for races/walks/swims to benefit other non-profits, or to promote your own business/service:
- Post a flyer, business card, or other material on the bulletin board in the school entrance or place flyers on the table outside the Preschool room.
- Leave printed information in cubbies (please double check with the teachers-they may choose to include the information with the week in review or find a more appropriate time to send it home).
- Email the entire co-op. If the email is related to co-op events or activities, the Co-Presidents can send it out. If it is from you personally, you may send it to all or portions of the co-op.
- Submit an item to the Child's Play Today newsletter.
Child's Play Alumni and Friends: You may post non-Child's Play information on the bulletin board in the school entrance or place flyers on the table outside the Preschool classroom.
Non Child's Play activities: (i.e. individuals, businesses or organizations that contact Child's Play directly and do not have a Child's Play connection) will not have access to cubbies or the email list, which is confidential. However, they may post information on the bulletin board in the school entrance or place flyers on the table outside the Preschool classroom.
Please use your discretion. Although we are happy to share ideas, we do not want co-op families to feel burdened or pressured by too many solicitations. This system can be reviewed and revised at any time if the co-op determines that members are not acting responsibly.
Please make every effort to arrive and depart on time. Coming too early or late to school is hard on children and a disruption to the classroom.
In the event of an emergency that delays you or changes your drop-off/pickup schedule, please call the school immediately to notify the teachers.
If a parent is chronically late for drop-off or pickup, they will be contacted by the teacher and/or the Co-Presidents to discuss the problem. Remember, our first priority is ensuring your child's safety and protection.
If you wish to converse with other parents, please remove yourself from the classroom. It adds to the noise and confusion of the classroom.
Hours for the Toddler classes are from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm. Parents are asked to walk their child into class any time between 8:55 am and 9:05 am and pick them up from the classroom any time between 11:55 am and 12:05 pm.
Nursery and Preschool Classes
Hours for the Nursery and Preschool classes are from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm. For children enrolled in the Extended Day program, hours are from 9:00 am to 1:45 pm. Parents may drop children off between 8:55 am and 9:05 am and pick them up between 11:55 am and 12:05 pm. Pick up for Extended Day is from 1:40 pm to 1:50 pm. (See "Procedures for Arrival and Departure" section for details.)
According to resolution No. 6079 adopted by the Zoning Board of Review 6/24/85: Child's Play, Inc. agrees to drop off children attending the school on Stimson Avenue only. And that we will have a Duty Day parent and/or teachers stationed at the Stimson Avenue entrance to the Central Congregational Church in order to make arrivals and departures as quick and efficient as possible.
Procedures for Arrival and Departures
We have a system for dropping off and picking up your child at Child's Play. This arrangement is part of our Zoning variance* allowing us to have a school here, so please follow this procedure to the letter! Please communicate these procedures to anyone who might be picking up your child.
Nursery and Preschool Classes
- The teacher assistant for each class will be stationed on the sidewalk by the play yard on Stimson Avenue between 8:55 am and 9:05 am. Stay in your car, pull over as far to the right as possible, get in line behind other waiting cars, put your flashing hazard lights on, and pull up when your turn comes. A teacher will take your child out of your car.
- For pick-up, the same system holds with a slight variance. The children will be brought outside to wait for dismissal. Stay in your car and your child will be brought to you. Morning dismissal is at 12:00 pm. Extended Day dismissal is at 1:45 pm.
- Never double park or park on the left side of Stimson Avenue.
- If you want to go into school yourself or walk your child(ren) in, you must find a legal parking space. We do get parking tickets for parking illegally in this area. Make sure you take your valuables and lock your car.
- Do not block anyone's driveway even slightly, even for one minute.
- Do not position your car in any way so that it obstructs the flow of through traffic on Stimson Avenue or Diman Place. Let's be courteous neighbors!
- You may park in the School Loading Zone on Stimson Avenue for 15 minutes only. However, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the Toddler Class uses the loading zone between 8:55 am - 9:05 am and again between 11:55 am - 12:05 pm. Preschool & Nursery families are not to use the loading zone during these times.
Parents of children in the Toddler class are asked to park legally and escort their child to and from the classroom. Follow steps 3 through 7 above.
The neighbors in this area are sensitive to the parking and congestion caused during our drop-off and pickup times. Let's be kind, courteous neighbors! Also, please be respectful when walking with your child(ren) along the sidewalks, keep off adjacent walls and lawns.
*According to resolution No. 6079 adopted by the Zoning Board of Review on 6-24-85, Child's Play agrees that children attending our school will be dropped off on Stimson Ave. only. We will have someone stationed at the Stimson Ave. entrance in order to make the arrivals and departures of the children as quick and efficient as possible.
What to Bring to School
Each child will need a backpack or tote bag to transport school papers and projects home safely. Choose one that your child can open and close easily and is big enough to hold lunch, art projects and extra wintertime gear. Label it clearly with your child's name.
Please supply an extra change of clothing wrapped in a big Ziploc bag or in a shoebox. If your child wears diapers or pull-ups, place a few of these along with the extra clothing.
Please dress your child in clothing appropriate for the weather and suited for active play, both indoors and out. Because children will be working with paints, playdough, clay, etc. clothing that will not be damaged by such materials are recommended. Rubber-soled shoes are strongly recommended at all times. For your child's safety in climbing and running, we do not recommend sandals, Crocs, or flip-flops. A raincoat with a hood is especially helpful on those rainy days in the spring and fall. Teachers try to get the children outside to play even in the winter, so send your child to school in a warm coat, hat and mittens on cold days. Place shoes or slippers in their tote bag if your child wears boots to school, and pack snow pants if it is really cold and snowy. One under-dressed child can keep the whole group inside.
It is helpful to sew a ring or a strip of material into the inside top of your child's jackets so that the jacket will stay on their coat hook. Otherwise, jackets placed on the hooks tend to end up on the floor. Remember to label everything: coats, hats, sweaters, mittens, boots, ski pants, lunches...everything!
Remember to apply sunscreen to your child before coming to school, as we do spend a lot of time outdoors. If you would like staff to apply sun block when your child is at school, please send it along with them.
We do not apply insect repellent to children while at school. When public health authorities recommend use of insect repellents due to high risk of insect-borne disease, we recommend that you apply repellant before your child comes to school and dress your child in long sleeves and long pants.
Snow Days and Weather
Child's Play follows the Wheeler School snow day cancellations. Listen to WPRO-AM for cancellations or tune in to your local news channel. However, as they are occasionally not in session when we are, our Co-Presidents and Marketing chair will be utilizing Facebook and email to notify our parents of a school closure. If Wheeler School announces a closure or a delayed start due to inclement weather, we will follow suit. If there is a Providence Parking Ban in effect, we will be closed.
Fair Weather Dismissal
Preschool will end their day on the play yard when the weather is good. All children will line up and leave the play yard together and will be delivered to their parent or caregiver. If you would like to linger and let your child play longer, you must accompany your child into the play yard and are then responsible for their safety.
Please be respectful of class that may still be in session (Preschool Extended Day) and be extra careful in monitoring younger children. Our equipment is designed for 2-6 year olds. It is only safe for younger children if they are very carefully supervised. Please cover the sandbox and put away all toys if you are the last to leave the play yard.
Winter Outdoor Play
Please send your children to school appropriately dressed for outdoor play and all kinds of weather. Our intention is to have outdoor play if the weather conditions allow for it. When the temperature is below 30 degrees, the teachers will use their discretion to determine whether outdoor play is appropriate based upon the conditions of the playground (wet/icy) and other weather factors (wind chill). The Nursery children need to be wearing hats, mittens, winter coats, snow pants and boots when they arrive to school so that they can start their day on the playground. The other classes should have these items in their backpacks or tote bags or should wear them into school.
General Safety and Child Abuse Policies
The staff is informed of safety rules, special hazards and commonly occurring accidents. They receive instruction on evacuation procedures, use of fire extinguishers and how to report an accident.
The children are under direct adult supervision at all times. The teaching staff supervise toddler/twos by sight and sound at all times; teaching staff supervise preschoolers primarily by sight and sound.
Child-staff ratios are always in compliance with licensing regulations and NAEYC and Brightstars standards. These standards are:
- The play yard is fenced, and no child is allowed outside to play unless there is a staff member or other adult present.
Any time the children leave the building as a group, they are required to walk in an orderly fashion and are accompanied by the staff (and other adults if deemed necessary). Parents are required to bring their children into the building if not using our drop-off system with the teacher assistants escorting children into school. No child is allowed to go out to a car alone.
Fire and Other Building Emergencies
- Child's Play conforms to all fire regulations as designated by the State Fire Marshall. A fire evacuation plan is drawn and posted in each classroom. The 911 emergency number and exact address of the building are posted by the telephone.
- In the event of fire or other building emergency, the building shall be immediately evacuated. The Education Coordinator or staff member in charge shall phone the fire department or other appropriate authorities from within the building if it is safe or from another phone. In the event of fire, a designated staff member may attempt to extinguish the fire while the building is being evacuated. All other staff members are to remain with the children and see them safely to the designated emergency area.
- A staff member or duty parent will notify parents as soon as possible.
- Our off-site evacuation area is the Wheeler School gym, at the corner of Angell and Brook Streets. Staff and students would gain access to the gym through Wheeler's main entrance at 216 Hope Street. If possible, a staff member should contact Gary Esposito at the school before coming over at 421-8100 or check in at the main desk (usually staffed by JoAnn Donahue) and ask for him.
- There is an exit from the gym onto Brook Street (about 100 feet from the intersection at Angell Street) where the children can be picked up. The process would work in the same manner as pick-up at Child's Play, where parents stay in their cars, pull up to the curb, and a teacher or duty parent brings the child to the car.
- Fire drills are regularly held to familiarize the children with the evacuation procedures as required by our licensing agencies. Each classroom has two evacuation routes (primary and alternate) and a designated spot outside the building to gather and await permission to return to the classroom.
- The fire alarm system, emergency power pack lights and fire extinguishers are checked yearly for proper function. All staff members know how to use the fire extinguishers.
National Emergencies (such as terrorist incident)
- The Co-president(s) will notify the Education Coordinator of the emergency. The group will decide whether to dismiss school or maintain a regular dismissal time.
- Parents should call school if they can't pick-up their child and need to give pick-up instructions. Otherwise, parents are asked to wait for telephone, text, Facebook or email updates. Of course, they can pick-up their child at any time.
- Child's Play maintains emergency supplies in case students and staff are detained at school by a snowstorm, bio-terrorism, or other event.
- Supplies include water, food, paper goods, hygiene supplies, first aid supplies, blankets, pillows, flashlights, lanterns, radio, extra batteries and toys.
- In the unlikely event of bio-terrorism, Child's Play will follow all government instructions including a complete building lock down. To protect children, staff and parents from hazardous exposure, parents should not come to school for their children until the government declares an all-clear.
- Power Failure
- Two flashlights in working order are kept in an accessible place. Power pack emergency lights are installed to light each exit.
- Missing Person
- Should a child go missing, staff shall search the immediate Child's Play area and grounds completely. If the child is still not found, the police and parent/guardian shall be notified while staff begins searching the immediate surrounding area.
- While transporting children on a field trip, each child is securely buckled into a child safety device appropriate to his/her age and weight.
- If there is more than one vehicle, the drivers should watch out for each other as much as possible. Drivers will have appropriate directions to the destination and a phone number to call if there's a problem.
C. Child Abuse
- Should staff suspect possible child abuse and/or neglect, observations and dates must be documented and reported to the Department of Children, Youth and Families by calling 1-800-RICHILD in accordance with RI state law.
- Any suspicion of abuse by staff or parent volunteers must be documented and reported immediately to the Education Coordinator, Teacher, Co-Presidents and /or Co-op Education Specialist. They, in turn, will confer with the staff member, and then report it to DCYF and the Board of Directors, if it's determined that abuse is a possibility.
- Procedures outlined by DCYF/State Law must be followed. The staff member will have the opportunity for defense before the Board of Directors.
Safety and Security
It is important to ensure the safety and security of all children. Please tell your children never to leave the classroom and or playground alone. The teachers remind the children of these same rules. The current practice at Child’s Play is to keep the school door locked during the day except during drop-off and pick-up times. The door is also unlocked during playground time to facilitate bringing children in for bathroom breaks.
Please follow these safety and security protocols for duty days and during drop-off and pick-up:
As a Duty Parent
- Make sure the doors to the classroom are always closed tightly, especially the Toddler/Nursery classroom and front room.
- Make sure the gates to the playground are also closed tightly at all times.
- Remember that children are not allowed to play outside the playground area.
- Keep track of the number of children in the classroom/playground at all times. You should always be counting the children in your head. Ask the teacher which children are absent so you have an accurate count.
- If you take a child to the rest room or to another location at Child's Play, let the teacher or teacher assistant know where you are going and who is going with you, so that the teacher or teacher assistant can adjust their count.
At Drop-off and Pick-up
- If you drop-off and/or pick-up your child in the classroom, always close the door behind you when arriving and departing.
- Make sure children don't leave the classroom at these times. If you see a child leave the classroom, tell the teacher immediately or go after the child yourself.
- If you notice an unattended child in the hallway or bathroom, please help the child back to their classroom or stay with the child until the child finishes in the bathroom and then escort the child back.
- If you enter the playground during drop-off or pick-up, always close the gate behind you.
- Always have a watchful eye for children who may get out of the play yard.
- If you see a child wander from the pick-up lines, please guide them back to their teacher.
Playground Policies and Rules
- No child is allowed outside or in the playground without an adult.
- Children are not allowed out of the playground except when accompanied by an adult.
- An adult must accompany children when going to the bathroom or into the building for any reason.
- Parent/person who is taking the child home must tell the teacher or assistant teacher when a child is leaving.
- Gates must be closed at all times.
- PLEASE KEEP THE PATHWAY CLEAR AT ALL TIMES - No one is allowed to congregate on the pathway from the playground fence to the building door. If parents/guardians must wait for children, they must do so along the fence parallel to the street or wait in their cars.
- Children in the playground are the responsibility of the staff until formal dismissal time (12:00/1:45). If you'd like to stay longer with your child you must come into the playground with your child. He/she is now your responsibility.
- When parents pick up their child and leave the playground, they must keep safety in mind. Children shall not be allowed to run or play on the sidewalk, in nearby driveways, on neighbors' lawns, etc. This creates a very dangerous situation and it is disrespectful to our neighbors.
Safe Playground Habits
- We play and run in a safe manner, always being considerate of others.
- No climbing on/over fences, trash bins, windowsills, fire stairs, etc. or outside any climbing structures.
- All adults on the playground (staff and duty parents) are there to supervise all areas of the playground and assist as needed - especially the monkey bars, slides, cargo net and climbing wall.
- Wait your turn and give the person ahead lots of room.
- Slide down feet first, sitting up, one at a time.
- Spiral slide is only for sliding down.
- Small slide shall be used for climbing up and/or sliding down.
Climbing Apparatus - Climbing Wall & Cargo Net
- Only one person at a time.
- Use both hands.
- Stay away from other climbers.
Monkey Bars / Overhead Bars
- Only one person at a time.
- Everybody starts at the same end and goes in the same direction.
- Keep a big space between you and the person in front of you.
- Drop down with knees bent. Try to land on both feet.
- Sand is for digging and building.
- Sand stays in the sand box, wood chips stay on the ground.
- Prior to employment, each employee must obtain a physical which includes a Mantoux tuberculin skin test, performed less than six months prior to the start of employment. The physical and results of the Mantoux must be submitted to the school.
- If the Mantoux test is positive or a previous one is known to have been positive, the physician's written statement that the tuberculosis is not communicable shall be required.
- Employees who have a negative Mantoux test at the time of employment and are free of symptoms suggestive of tuberculosis need not have further testing.
- As of Fall 2015, all staff are required to have: 1 dose of Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis), 2 doses of MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), 2 doses of Varicella and a yearly influenza vaccine. Note: Staff born prior to 1957 is not required to get MMR vaccine; Staff born prior to 1980 are not required to get the Varicella vaccine. If already immune to a disease, immunity can be verified with lab testing (also called a titer). If someone cannot be vaccinated against a disease for medical reasons, a Medical Exemption certificate must be completed by a licensed healthcare provider.
- Each child is required to have a physical exam and health record on file, to include up-to-date immunizations. The physical should include whatever information the reporting physician deems appropriate, and reporting the presence of any condition or handicap affecting the child's general health. A lead-screening test shall be done annually.
- Children cannot enter Child's Play without an immunization record that shows the child has been age appropriately immunized in accordance with the current Recommended Childhood Immunization Schedule approved by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)/American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)/American Academy of Family Physicians.
- The immunization form is distributed with the packet of mandatory forms each year. These forms must be completed and returned to Child's Play before the start of the school year.
- Effective 2015, all students are also required to have 2 doses of rotavirus vaccine, 2 doses of Hepatitis A vaccine, and a yearly Influenza vaccination in addition to all previous requirements.
Exemptions, Exclusions and Waiting Periods
- Students can be exempted from required immunizations for either religious or medical reasons. A copy of both forms can be obtained from Child's Play.
- A physician, a physician assistant, a certified registered nurse practitioner, or other licensed practitioner must complete a Rhode Island Department of Health's "Medical Immunization Exemption Certificate" (provided by Child's Play) attesting that the student is exempt from a specific vaccine for medical reasons, OR;
- A parent or guardian completes and signs the Rhode Island Department of Health's "Religious Immunization Exemption Certificate" (provided by Child's Play) attesting that the immunization conflicts with their religious beliefs. This form must also be signed by your family's religious leader.
- The Education Coordinator will maintain a list of all children who have not completed the minimum vaccinations.
- If an outbreak of vaccine-preventable disease should occur, the exempt student will be excluded from school for a period of time as determined by the Medical Advisor, to assure that the exempt child is not at risk. If your child cannot attend school due to an outbreak of the illness you are still financially responsible for tuition.
- No child who arrives noticeably ill, with a rash or fever over 100 shall be admitted for that day. Should a child become ill during the day, he/she will be kept separate from the other children until a parent or authorized person arrives to take the child home.
- In the event a child contracts a communicable disease and exposes the other children, notice of such exposure will be posted and parents will be notified when they pick up their children. The sick child will not be allowed to return to school until the contagious period has passed or with a doctor's note.
- The school must have a signed Emergency Treatment form authorizing emergency care and transfer of medical records to a local hospital on file for each child. Emergency numbers for reaching the parent or guardian and another authorized person must be on file. The child's parent guardian or authorized person shall be notified immediately in the event of a serious injury/accident or illness requiring emergency care. A qualified staff member shall administer first aid.
- The local rescue squad or ambulance service shall provide emergency transportation; the local hospital shall provide emergency care.
- In the event that a child is transported to the hospital, his/her health record and signed Emergency Treatment form shall be sent along. A staff member shall accompany the child until the arrival of parents, guardian or authorized person.
- An Injury-Accident Report shall be completed for each injury/accident except minor scratches and abrasions. The report shall be made as soon as possible following the injury/accident and no later than the same day. The original report shall be filed in the child's file and one copy shall be filed in the Injury-Accident Log. The parent shall be made aware of the injury/accident when picking up his/her child, may discuss it with staff and is given a copy of the report.
- Any non-prescription medication to be administered at school such as acetaminophen, cough syrup, etc. must be accompanied by the parent's written permission and instructions for use.
- Any prescription medication to be administered by a staff member must be labeled, in its original container. The label is to contain the child's name, physician's name, pharmacist, medication, dosage, frequency, starting date and expiration date, if applicable. This information is checked when receiving the medication from the parent. An Individual Child's Record of Medication Given is signed by the parent/guardian authorizing its administration.
- A schedule of medications is posted on the teacher's closet door. A staff member shall triple check the label before administering the medication - once before opening, once after opening and once after closing the container.
- After the medication has been completed, the Individual Child's Record of Medication Given shall be filed with the child's health record.
- Children with known serious allergies that require the use of an Epi-pen or other health risks/chronic conditions that need special care (asthma, diabetes, etc.) must have written documentation from a licensed health provider and written guidelines as to how to care for that child.
Cleaning / Maintenance of Building
- Child's Play maintains a clean, hazard-free environment. The facility will be maintained and cleaned according to licensing and NAEYC guidelines. Daily maintenance will be done by staff and parents. Bathrooms are cleaned and sanitized daily and floors are vacuumed/swept as part of duty day requirements. Tables are cleaned & disinfected with a bleach solution before serving food and as needed throughout the day. Toys and materials are kept clean as required by licensing and NAEYC standards. Toys that have been placed in the mouth or otherwise contaminated by bodily fluids are washed/disinfected before use by other children. All cleaning materials are used with caution around children and kept out of the reach of children. A cleaning service does the overall, heavy duty cleaning weekly.
- Use of hazardous products, including pesticides, is not allowed when children are present and all precautions are taken to protect children from environmental hazards. When renovations are done to the building, the rooms will be adequately ventilated before use by children. Child's Play complies with all regulations and inspections regarding lead, radon, fire code, etc.
Hand Washing Policy
- All staff and children are taught proper hand-washing procedures. Staff assists children with hand washing as needed to successfully complete the task. Signs are posted at each sink showing the proper hand-washing procedure.
- Children and adults wash their hands: when they arrive at school, when coming in from the playground, after using the toilet, after handling body fluids (blowing/wiping nose, coughing/sneezing on hands, etc.), before meals and snacks, before preparing/serving food, after handling pets or other animals or any other activity where hands may get dirty/germs.
- Adults also wash their hands after diapering or helping a child with toileting, before and after administering medications, after handling garbage or cleaning, etc.
- Disposable diapers are to be provided by the family. Diapering will only be done in the designated area (bathroom with the changing table). Surfaces in diapering area will be kept clean and are not used for other purposes. Diapers are changed when wet or soiled and disposed of in a lidded, hands-free container. Diapering procedures are posted in the bathroom as well as cleaning/disinfecting guidelines.
- Staff/Parents will follow the universal precautions recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in handling any fluid that might contain blood or other body fluids. Universal precautions require treating all blood and fluids that may contain blood or blood products as potentially infectious. Spills of bodily fluids, etc. should be cleaned up immediately, while wear non-porous gloves, unless the fluid can be easily contained by the material being used to clean it up; clean and sanitize any surface on to which body fluids have been spilled; discard fluid contaminated material in a plastic bag that has been sealed, wash hands after cleaning up any spill.
- Each class may have classroom pets during the year or may have times throughout the year when animals may be brought to school. Pets/animals will be safe to have in school, free of disease and properly cared for as stated in licensing and/or NAEYC guidelines. They will be kept in their cages except under direct supervision of the teaching staff. Reptiles/amphibians are not allowed as classroom pets because of risk for salmonella infection or other disease. Program staff makes sure that any child who is allergic to a type of animal is not exposed to that animal. Children and staff will follow proper hand-washing procedures after handling animals.
Health and Illness Policy
At the beginning of the year, parents will be informed of the school's health policies during parent orientation sessions. In order to maintain a healthy environment, we ask that you do not bring your child to school if he/she is showing signs of illness. Some symptoms to look for are:
- A temperature of over 100 degrees
- Runny/red eyes
- Unexplained rash or severe itching
- Two or more cold symptoms: cough, runny nose, congestion, sore throat, sneezing.
The child should also be kept home when he/she has any contagious disease or condition. A chart of contagious diseases is posted at the school, but some common ones are:
Chickenpox Fever, rash consisting of blisters
Gastroenteritis Stomach ache, nausea and diarrhea
Conjunctivitis Red eyes with thick, crusty discharge
Strep Throat Fever, sore throat
Scarlet Fever Fine, red rash 1-3 days after sore throat
The school should be notified if any child develops a contagious disease so that other parents can be warned.
If a child is at school and becomes ill, the parent (or designated alternate) will be telephoned. This will be done for any contagious disease and for fever, vomiting, diarrhea or if the child just doesn't seem like his/herself (e.g. cranky, lethargic, etc.) as determined by the teacher. If we are unable to reach the parents or designated alternate, or while waiting for that person to arrive, we can use an isolation room to separate the sick child from the group (with a duty parent present).
A child found to have lice will be sent home after two teachers verify seeing evidence on a child's head. The treatment will be selected and administered by the parents and children must be nit free to return to school. If the problem is first noticed at home, parents must notify the child's teacher. The teacher will notify all parents and head checks will be done on all students until the issue has been resolved. Classrooms will also be thoroughly cleaned as needed.
Adopted by vote of Board of Directors May, 1996
The Board of Directors of Child's Play, Inc. recognized the social issues and health concerns presented by the AIDS virus. In order to protect the welfare of all children and school personnel, to safeguard the privacy of any child who tests positive for HIV, and to prevent discrimination against any person with positive HIV, the Board adopted this policy:
- All teachers and parents will use surgical gloves whenever treating an injured child who is bleeding.
- Kleenex or other material with blood on it may be disposed of in ordinary waste containers.
- The parents of an infected child shall notify the Co-Presidents of the child's condition. The Co-Presidents shall be the only people informed.
- Any incident of biting or possible contamination shall be reported to the Co-Presidents who will take such action as is necessary to protect the parties involved.
- Child's Play, Inc. does not discriminate against any child or employee on the basis of that individual having tested positive for the HIV virus.
Food Preparation, Serving and Storage
Snack is provided daily by duty or snack parents in keeping with our nutrition policy and allergy guidelines are followed when necessary. We also keep a reserve of crackers, raisins, peanut butter, etc. to supplement, as needed. We provide bottled water as the beverage and as needed throughout the day. Children staying for lunch bring their own lunch from home. We do not prepare meals or serve hot lunches. We do make recommendations to parents as to healthy lunch suggestions and ways to package it using thermos, ice packs, etc. to keep it hot/cold.
Snacks are an important part of our children's diets and daily experience at school. We always try to provide healthful snacks which promote good eating habits. The following guidelines should be used when bringing in snacks from home, on special occasions or duty days.
- Represent a range of food groups and have some variety (i.e. not graham crackers every day).
- Be quick and easy to prepare for duty parents and teacher (unless preparation of the snack is a special activity).
- Contain 100% fruit juice.
- Be available for children with specific allergies such as milk, eggs, peanuts, etc. In these cases, parents will suggest snacks for their children so they feel included in the group.
- Contain whole grain products whenever possible (i.e. whole wheat, oats, etc.).
Snack Should Not:
- Contain synthetic sweeteners (aspartame, saccharin or sorbitol).
- Contain additives, preservatives or artificial colors.
Please Keep to a Minimum:
- Excessive amounts of sugar (special occasions are an exception).
- Cottonseed or tropical oils.
Foods Not Allowed For Children Under 4 Years Old:
- Hot dogs, whole or sliced into rounds
- Whole grapes
- Hard pretzels
- Spoonful's of peanut butter
- Chunks of raw carrots or meat larger than can be swallowed whole
For Duty Parents: fresh fruits, vegetables, cheese, yogurt, perishables which can't be served as everyday snacks due to spoilage.
For Snack Coordinators: fruit juice sweetened cookies, low sugar cookies, peanut butter, trail mix, dried fruits, seeds, popcorn, pretzels, goldfish crackers, grahams.
Food Allergies and/or Other Dietary Requests:
If your child has a known food allergy, please alert your child's teacher and the Co-Presidents prior to the start of the school year. Severe allergies may require the initiation of a restricted snack list for a particular class, classroom or for the entire school. The health and safety of all children is our first priority.
Please discuss any other special dietary requests (vegetarian, religious, etc.) with your teacher prior to the start of the school year. You and your teacher will create a plan that enables your child to follow his/her special diet while at school. This might include reasonable accommodations to the snack routine, educating families about your child's diet so they may provide appropriate snacks when practicable, and/or providing your child's own snacks from home.
Procedures for Implementing Any Dietary Changes
A more detailed request for information on any dietary restrictions will be placed in the Teacher Information Package sent with registration materials. When a parent informs the school of a request for dietary modification on the Teacher Info Form:
- The teacher and parent will discuss the implications for accommodations of the restriction in practice (i.e. how it will affect the class) prior to the start of school and create a proposed plan.
- The teacher will take the plan to the Head Teacher, Co-Pres., Class Rep, Co-op Education Advisor and discuss and approve. If there are changes, these will be discussed and agreed upon with the parent.
- If necessary, the teacher will send information home to the class prior to the beginning of school about how snack will be handled in the class (i.e. if school will purchase the snack, list of appropriate snacks, etc.)
- The accommodation plan is presented and discussed with the class at the Orientation Meeting and Open House.
Policies and Operating Procedures
Child's Play, Inc. is a non-profit, non-sectarian cooperative school located in the Central Congregational Church building at 296 Angell Street in Providence, RI 02906. The administration of the school is accomplished by parents who are elected to a Board of Directors and an Executive Board. Parents are required to assist the teachers in the classroom, provide transportation for field trips and serve on at least one of the committees organized by the Board of Directors to do the work necessary to run the school.
The school facilities include two fully equipped classrooms and an outdoor play yard.
The school calendar approximates that of the Providence Public School System.
In accordance with the report of the Building Inspector's Office from 9/16/85, there will be no night time classes at our school as long as we are located at 296 Angell Street.
Child's Play, Inc. will comply with the requirements of the General Education Law 16-48 for the Education of Very Young Children, including the mandated fingerprinting, criminal records check, employment history, DCYF check and tuberculin skin test required of anyone who works or assists at the school as required by state law.
Articles of Association and By-Laws
The Board of Directors will keep an updated copy of the Articles of Association. All Parents are issued a copy of the by-laws in the handbook.
Cell Phone Policy
Out of respect for our program, we ask parents/guardians/staff/volunteers working in our classrooms to refrain from using cell phones, etc. or conducting business during your time in the classroom/school.
Child’s Play treats information about your family and child with the strictest confidentiality. We follow all state licensing and national requirements. We keep two kinds of records on the children – assessment records (observations, samples of work, checklists) and personal records (registration forms, medical, other personal information). The information in these files is used only for the purpose of communicating more effectively with you and designing the best possible environment, experience, and curriculum possible for your child and in consultation with you.
These records are open only to the particular student's teacher and/or assistant teacher, the Education Coordinator and/or Co-op Education Specialist, the Co-Presidents, an authorized employee of the licensing agency, and other authorities (Health Department, NAEYC assessors, etc.) or as deemed necessary by the Education Coordinator and/or the child’s teacher; and to the child's parent or legal guardian. Staff will not discuss personal information given by parents/caregivers with others except when it is necessary to do so to best support the child’s needs.
Staff personnel records are open only to that staff member, the Education Coordinator, the Co-op Education Specialist, the Co-Presidents, an authorized employee of the licensing agency or other authorities (Health Department, NAEYC assessors, etc.)
All personal student and staff records are kept in a locked file cabinet at school. Assessment records are kept in the classroom files. No information will be given to outside resources, programs, etc., without the written consent from a parent.
As a duty parent in the co-op, parents may have access to or overhear confidential information about our students. All adults in the co-op must keep all information about our students and their families confidential. It is especially important not to discuss children or their behavior in front of children, or with any other adults. If you have a concern, please speak to the teacher privately.
Expense Reimbursement Policy
If you incur any costs related to Child's Play business, please follow our Expense reimbursement Policy, as follows:
- Complete the Request for Payment Form in the School Post Office, and attach all receipts to it. You will not receive reimbursement if the paperwork is not completed properly. Place the completed form, with attached receipts, in the Treasurer's mailbox in the School Post Office. The Assistant Treasurer is responsible for preparing and distributing all checks for reimbursement.
- All expenses over $100 must be approved by the Co-Presidents. Please place completed forms in the Co-Presidents mailbox for all expenses over $100.
- Please use the sales tax exempt letter for Rhode Island to avoid paying sales taxes. This can be obtained from the Education Coordinator or Co-Presidents.
Parental permission must be obtained before any child may go on a field trip. Prior to each field trip, a permission slip will be sent home for the parent to sign and must be returned to the teacher before the trip. Parents will be notified in advance of all field trips so that those who do not wish to participate can make other arrangements for their child for that day. When driving or riding on a field trip, parents should make other arrangements for siblings unless they are specifically invited. Parents transporting children on field trips must have liability insurance and there should be two parents in the car with the exception of short local trips, when available.
The financial support of the school comes from tuition, fees and fundraising. Child's Play, Inc. is a non-profit organization and all of its resources go towards school operations.
The Board of Directors will determine the content of all forms necessary for the school (application, health, tuition, etc.)
The school has liability insurance in accordance with state law. However, neither the school nor the Central Congregational Church will be held liable for any injury to a child or an adult above the amount of the liability insurance. Neither the school and/or the Central Congregational Church will be responsible for loss or damage to personal property.
Section 7-6-9 of the RI General Laws is the statute that protects volunteers and Board members of non-profits from liability for conduct in the execution of their duties, except for malicious, willful or wanton misconduct and for claims arising out of operation of a motor vehicle. Additionally, the school has Workers Compensation Insurance to protect the staff and Directors and Officers Insurance to protect our Board members.
No Firearms/Weapons Policy
No firearms/weapons are allowed on the school premises; this does not pertain to police officers, etc.
No Smoking Policy
Child's Play is a smoke-free facility. Smoking is not permitted indoors or on the playground.
Child's Play does not discriminate in providing services to children and their families on the basis of gender, race, religion, cultural heritage, political beliefs, national origin, disability, marital status, or sexual orientation.
Child's Play is an equal opportunity employer.
Open Door Policy
Although our door is locked for security reasons, parents are welcome to visit their child's classroom anytime throughout the school day.
Orientation/Training of New Staff and Duty Parents
All new staff and families will attend orientation which includes reviewing the goals and philosophy of the program, policies and procedures, NAEYC accreditation guidelines, a tour of the facility, and duty day guidelines. In addition, parents receive a packet of information pertaining to their child's classroom which includes more guidelines for working in the classroom and more training as needed. Staff receives additional training with the Education Coordinator and Co-op Education Specialist as needed.
Tuition is determined annually by the Executive Board and is payable annually, semi-annually, or monthly. Please refer to the Withdrawal Policy/Tuition Payment Schedule for further details. Families who are chronically late with tuition will jeopardize their child's position in the school.
Guidance and Discipline Policy
The purpose of guidance and discipline is to teach children acceptable behavior. We believe in a positive approach to this and are committed to providing an environment where children feel safe, comfortable and happy. Children’s behavior is influenced by their overall development, their environment, and their caregivers. When children receive positive, non-violent and understanding interactions from adults and others, they develop good self-concepts, problem-solving abilities, and self-discipline.
Each child differs in terms of his/her activity level, distractibility, and sensitivity. Guidance and discipline are positive ways to help a child develop self-control and confidence handling their needs in a socially acceptable way. This is an on-going process, not a single act. We are here to teach and guide each child to learn the skills to manage their own behavior.
Adults will model socially acceptable behavior and manners along with positive reinforcement and acknowledgement of good behavior. We maintain a positive discipline policy, which focuses on prevention, redirection, love, consistency and firmness. Child's Play does not allow its teachers or others helping in the classrooms to use physical punishment, verbal or emotional/psychological abuse or coercion against any child attending the school. Shaming and guilt inducements are never used. We also never use food or outdoor play as a reward or behavior consequence or threaten children in any way due to behavior.
Classroom rules will be tailored to the developmental level of the children, be short and simple, be stated in a positive way and used consistently. When appropriate, children will be encouraged to develop rules together. Rules will be developed around respect for other people and for property. These rules are discussed with the children at the beginning of the school year and daily reminders are given throughout the year. For example:
- Playing safely to avoid hurting self and others
- Showing respect for other people's work and belongings
- Asking for turns rather than using force to get a toy.
First and foremost, teachers attempt to assess the reason for a child’s negative behavior: The child doesn’t know how to interact or how to play with others, or the child is tired or hungry. Once this has been determined, we work with the children to help them discover a better way to resolve problems. The approach is one of problem solving: "It's not much fun to play if you are always afraid someone is going to take away what you are playing with, or knock you down, or break your building. What can we do to keep play fun?" Children are encouraged to practice the skills that will allow them to resolve conflicts and have their needs met without the use of aggressive or destructive behaviors. Children are taught to use their words instead of actions. For example, to say "I don't want to be chased" or "I'm angry because you knocked down my building.”
When situations occur which require intervention, teachers or other adults will provide the children with clear explanations as to why a specific behavior is unacceptable, and alternative modes for acting will be suggested. The teachers will assess the child's individual needs for guidance and use the most appropriate technique for the situation. Some may need conflict resolution, guidance in sorting their feelings and thoughts, or redirection; others may need time alone to refocus. Examples of situations and possible techniques are as follows:
- Children who are behaving in a disruptive but not necessarily aggressive way may be re-directed to a quiet, calming activity for a short period of time. This gives the child a chance to settle down and focus on an activity. When this activity is completed, the child is usually ready to go on to an activity of their choice.
- Sometimes a child will become quite angry or upset about a situation and is unable to be reasoned with or to discuss the problem. After the teacher has tried to calm the child and discuss the problem, the teacher may suggest that the child go off to a quiet place in the room such as the book corner or to a quiet, calming activity and get themselves together. When they are ready to join in the activities then they may do so.
If the child is unable to go off by themselves, the teacher may take the child away from the group to help calm the child, where they will sit until the child is calm enough to talk. The teacher will talk to the child and help them think of a more appropriate behavior and help the child to re-enter into play. On a rare occasion when a child loses control and could possibly injure themselves or others, we may be required to hold the child to soothe them until self-control is gained.
Occasionally, a child is aggressive towards others. If the child has hurt another child, the teacher will attend to the hurt child immediately. The child that did the injuring will be asked what they can do to make the hurt child feel better and help take care of them. If the incident resulted in injury to another child, the teacher will inform the parents of both children involved.
If there is a continuing pattern of aggressive or disruptive behavior (such as biting, pinching, hitting, kicking, abusive language) beyond what is deemed acceptable by the teacher, the following steps will be initiated:
- Teacher will consult with fellow staff members, the Education Coordinator and/or Co-op Education Specialist to develop alternatives for helping the child gain control of his/her behavior. Observations of the child by the Education Coordinator and/or Co-op Education Specialist may be performed.
- If the problem persists, the teacher will contact the child’s parents to inform them of the concern and to gather information, discuss some strategies to use and work together to resolve the issue. The Education Coordinator will be informed. If the aggressive behavior is done repeatedly to a specific child, the teacher will contact that child's parent(s). Appropriate strategies for comforting and self-defense will be discussed. The parent(s) of that child will be informed that the school is working with the other child's parent(s), and they will be updated periodically on progress within the classroom.
- If the behavior continues and/or escalates, the teacher will consult with the Education Coordinator and the Co-op Education Specialist. The parent(s) will be asked to meet with the teacher to: a) review the behavior, b) develop a plan of action, and c) set appropriate goals. The Education Coordinator and/or Co-op Education Specialist may sit in on this meeting. The teacher will address the issue in the classroom using developmentally appropriate practices and possibly at the parental level (i.e., classroom meeting, articles/handouts, letter sent home)
- If the plan of action developed by the parents and staff in Step 2 is not working, a meeting between the teacher, parent(s), Education Coordinator and/or Co-op Education Specialist will be arranged. This meeting will include a thorough review of the situation and may lead to recommendations for screening, counseling, and/or contact with other outside resources. Once these screenings occur, recommendations may be made by specialists and implemented in the classroom.
- If, after these steps, we are unable to meet the needs of the child, a recommendation will be made to the Board by the teacher, Education Coordinator and Co-op Education Specialist to remove the child from the school.
For more helpful hints regarding setting limits and handling difficult situations please refer to the Handbook for Classroom Assistants in your classroom packet form your child’s teacher.
(Revised May 11, 2015, and effective as of July 31, 2015)
Pursuant to the Long Range Planning Surplus Proposal approved at the January 2004 All-School Meeting, and as amended at the May 2015 All-School Meeting, the following policy outlines the procedures for calculating the Co-op's surplus on an annual basis, as well as allocating and disbursing the surplus monies.
I. Annual Surplus Calculation
At the close of each fiscal year (July 31), the Treasurer shall calculate the surplus as follows: the Surplus is equal to the difference between (A) the assets (which equal the amount of cash in all of the checking and money market accounts as of July 31) and (B) the Sum of (i) 150% of the projected annual operating expenses for the following fiscal year, (ii) the net revenue from fundraising from the fiscal year ended July 31 (fundraising income, less fundraising expenses) and (iii) any other cash donations from the fiscal year ended July 31.
Surplus = A - B
ll. Accounts for the Surplus Monies
Prior to making any disbursements relating to the Surplus Accounts, the Treasurer shall report his/her calculations of the Surplus and proposed disbursements to the Board at the first scheduled meeting of the Board following August 1st.
If a Surplus is calculated in any year, the Treasurer shall calculate the percentage share of the Surplus to be deposited in each of the Surplus Accounts, as follows:
(a) Facility/ Classroom Improvements Account = 40% of surplus
(b) Enrichment Programs Account = 10% of surplus
(c) Surplus Investment Account = 20% of surplus
The remaining 30% of the Surplus shall be used for a Teacher Pool, as set forth in Section IV, below.
III. Withdrawals from Surplus Accounts
(a) Facility/Classroom improvements
The monies in this account are for extra supplies and materials for the classroom, classroom equipment, or outdoor equipment. These monies are for items not already included as part of the itemized annual budget designated as "Teacher's Budget," "Education Supplies," "Equipment" or "Play Yard."
Any withdrawals from this account require Education Coordinator approval in consultation with the Cooperative Education Specialist. Any withdrawals for expenditure greater than $500 for a single item shall require prior approval of the majority of the Board. All withdrawals shall be reported to the Board at the next scheduled Board meeting in conjunction with the monthly financial review.
(b) Enrichment Programs
The monies in this account are for programs to enhance professional development, diversity awareness, or special classroom programs and projects for students. These monies are for items not already included as part of the itemized annual budget designated as "Professional Development” or “Field Trips."
Any withdrawals from this account require Education Coordinator approval in consultation with the Cooperative Education Specialist. Any withdrawals for expenditure greater than $500 for a single item shall require prior approval of the majority of the Board. All withdrawals shall be reported to the Board at the next scheduled Board meeting in conjunction with the monthly financial review.
(c) Surplus investment
The monies in this account are deposited into mutual funds. In an emergency, the monies in this account may be used to fund other programs or needs upon prior approval of the majority of the Board.
IV. Teacher Pool
For the purpose of this policy, "Teacher" is defined as any classroom teacher, assistant teacher, and the Education Coordinator. In order to be eligible, each Teacher (as defined above) must be both currently employed at the school during the disbursement year and have been employed by the school during the fiscal year in which the Surplus was generated. The total amount of 30% of the Surplus allocated toward the Teacher Pool shall be distributed to eligible Teachers in the first regularly scheduled payroll to occur in the new fiscal year based on each Teacher's yearly earnings for the prior school year.
The Teacher Pool shall be allocated to eligible Teachers as follows: Each eligible Teacher shall receive a portion of the Teacher Pool equal to such eligible Teacher's pro-rated share of the aggregate salary expense for the prior fiscal year related to all eligible Teachers (eg., if an eligible Teacher's salary expense for the prior fiscal year is 25% of the aggregate salary expense of all eligible Teachers for such prior fiscal year, such eligible Teacher shall receive 25% of the Teacher Pool (less applicable withholdings).
Child's Play is committed to the concept of diversity and preparing our children to be successful citizens in a diverse world. Developing respect for all human beings is a cornerstone of valuing diversity and is a key element to our curriculum. Our teachers provide a curriculum and use strategies which help a child to understand diversity by looking at themselves, their classmates, the families in the school and other people. There are many opportunities for this as children develop a classroom community and children are taught to value both similarities and differences. Diversity curriculum in the classroom includes materials (books, dolls, posters, puzzles, puppets, games, foods, etc.); activities planned by the teacher, teacher-child interactions and classroom discussions. Parents, as well as outside resources, often bring various aspects of diversity into the classroom. In addition, teachers have had training in the area of diversity and are always looking for ways to integrate these concepts in the classroom.
At Child's Play, it was decided several years ago to take the issue of diversity beyond the classroom, to the larger Child's Play community. Many schools were making a commitment to diversity and we believed the issue needed to be brought to the attention of our parents. It was brought to our board in 2003, where the board then charged the Long Range Planning Committee (LRP) with addressing the issue. LRP began this process by polling the Admissions chairs for the past five years, to see if diversity had been an issue during conversations, on tours, etc. with prospective families. A thorough study was led by LRP in 2004-2005 and then again in 2005-2006. The committees had intense discussions, reviewed the classroom curriculum, spoke to parents and added diversity questions to the long (spring) survey. The results were tallied by (then parent) Amy Silvia in November, 2005. A number of important concepts were addressed in the report, including:
A definition of diversity for Child's Play was drafted:
"The LRP Committee suggested using the broader definition of cultural diversity which would include socioeconomic status, nationality, profession, language, education, religion, geographical background, sexual preference, family structure, disabilities, etc. along with race."
- Child's Play may or may not be diverse depending upon who is defining diversity and what their definition is;
- Diversity is a large and complex issue;
- There are many ramifications for the co-op around diversity;
- It is critical we do not engage in "tokenism";
- There may be problems that would change key components in the co-op if it were to focus on some aspects of diversity;
- Work around diversity needs to be integrated thoughtfully; and
- Diversity work should be a process.
The following comments summarize the beliefs of the committee: "Although no consensus was reached, the committee seemed to agree that diversity within CP would indeed be a benefit to the families currently at CP (and to the families that would contribute to its diversity), but that we do not want to make major changes to the structure of the school (i.e.: schedule offerings, co-op requirements) to this end, and hope that more minor measures will help."
The recommendations made by the committee for future work are listed below:
Some ideas/actions to take:
- Effort to publicize the school in areas of town that are more diverse;
- Group discussions/create a committee on the subject to explore issue more deeply;
- Ensure our "front people" (admissions, especially, right on down to parents chatting at the park) are aware of the desire to "broaden" our population and are friendly and encouraging to all prospective families;
- To counteract the "dynasty" effect by leaving a couple of spots open for last-minute families;
- Possible financial assistance;
- Support teacher training and/or provide materials and activities to increase children's understanding of other cultures; and
- Workshops or speakers for parents as an opportunity to have a safe, productive forum for discussion.
LRP facilitated a discussion on diversity at an All-School Meeting in January, 2006 and again included diversity questions on the school survey. As suggested in the November 2005 report, a recommendation was made to form a Diversity Committee at CP for the 2006-2007 school year. This was done and the committee continued work on the issue of diversity. Parent education around the issue was a major focus of this committee. Newsletter articles, handouts, and brochures were collected and information was shared at All-School Meetings. An investigation was done of possible speakers on this issue for our families. The committee began to gather documents from other schools in the community. They also acknowledged that it was a process for the community and that the work on diversity should be continued.
After the 2006-2007 school year, it was determined that the work on diversity should fall back to LRP. There were two reasons for this: The co-op structure was changing due to loss of the kindergarten and that meant fewer parents were left to do the work of the co-op; and more importantly, the work of diversity should be integrated within all the work of the co-op. Therefore LRP was charged with ensuring that this would happen. Work continues on integrating diversity at many different levels within the co-op.
Child's Play is open to applicants of any race, color, sex, religion, nationality, or ethnic origin. There are a maximum of 10 children in the Toddler class, 15 in the Nursery class, and 20 in the Preschool class. An attempt will be made to maintain a balanced ratio of boys and girls when filling each class. First priority is given to children currently enrolled in Child's Play, their siblings, and alumni families. After these slots are filled, there are typically several openings remaining in each class that are filled with new families. When there are more new applicants than available slots, Child's Play conducts a lottery. The lottery is used to determine the order in which offers for admission will be made. All families who complete the required application materials and school tour by February 1st will be entered into the lottery. The lottery will be held on or about March 1st. At that time, families will begin to be notified in the order determined by the lottery until all available slots are filled.
Accepted Families will be allowed a maximum of three days to accept an admission offer and one week to submit all registration papers and deposit. If they have not done so at that time, the next family will be contacted and the previous offer will be withdrawn. Families who wish to withdraw their application are encouraged to contact the VP of Admissions to be removed from consideration. Families who wish to know where they have fallen in the admission order are also encouraged to contact the VP of Admissions.
For families new to Child’s Play with siblings applying at the same time, admission of one sibling does not guarantee admission of the other. Should one child be admitted through the lottery and his/her sibling not be admitted, the sibling would be placed first on the waiting list. If there is more than one sibling to be placed on the waiting list for a particular class, a sibling’s lottery will be done in order to assign them a position on this waiting list.
Please note that class sizes may be enlarged or reduced at any time at the discretion of the teachers and the Board of Directors of the school.
In addition to the Preschool & Nursery Core programs (M-W-F 9:00am-12:00pm), these students have two additional add-on options:
Lunch Bunch: Add a Monday, Wednesday, and/or Friday extension to your child's day! The program extends your child's day to 1:45pm. You may sign your child up for 1, 2, or all 3 days. The Preschool and Nursery teachers staff this program, along with one assistant teacher, and students bring their own lunch. As space permits, we offer a Lunch Bunch drop-in option for $20/day, paid on the day your child attends. Drop-ins are subject to availability and must be cleared via the VP of Admissions, Preschool or Nursery lead teacher. Lunch Bunch is limited to (15) Preschool students and (9) Nursery students.
Extended Day: Adds a Tuesday and/or Thursday to your core program. Extended days run from 9:00am-12pm. We admit up to 10 children per day for these "small group days" and the Preschool and assistant teachers staff this program. There are no duty parents on these days; however, there is a rotating snack schedule. (*Nursery Extended Days are not available until January 1st. If there are any open spots in the Extended Day program, remaining spots will open to Nursery students. If we receive more Nursery requests than we have spots available on any particular day, we will conduct a non-biased selection process to preserve fairness.)
As part of the admissions process, all new and alumni family members who plan to perform duty days must complete a complete background check, fingerprinting, and provide documented proof of 2 doses of MMR, 2 doses of Varicella, 1 dose of Tdap, a yearly flu vaccine and a TB test. Alumni families are those that have been away from Child's Play for at least one year.
Pregnancy does not exempt a parent from the TB test requirement. This test is necessary in order for Child's Play to be fully compliant with DCYF and RI Department of Health Requirements. As part of the TB test, you are injected with only a protein, and not the bacteria, to see if there is a reaction. You cannot get TB from the skin test. If a parent is unable to complete the TB Test, they will be excluded from Duty Days until they have done so (revised 2011).
Exceptions to Age Requirements
Teachers may determine if a child currently enrolled in Child's Play should be placed in a class not appropriate for their age for educational reasons.
Parents of children wishing to apply may visit the school by appointment with the Tour Director. Applications can be downloaded from the school website, (childsplayri.org) obtained at the time of the tour or requested by calling or writing to the school.
Completed applications are available online, and must be submitted with a $45.00 non-refundable application fee.
The application fee will be waived for families opting to reapply their child for the school year immediately following a year in which they had been placed on a waiting list.
Upon notification of your child's acceptance to Child's Play, a deposit is required to reserve your child's place. This deposit is non-refundable, but is otherwise applied towards tuition.
Entering After the School Year Begins
The Admission Procedure for a child entering Child's Play after the school year is as follows:
- Admissions will notify family on waiting list of an opening, subject to child's visit day in the class.
- Family will tour facility with Tour Director and meet with teacher and class representative.
- Child will spend a day in the classroom. Teacher will determine whether the child is compatible with the existing class and how the child will make the transition.
- Teacher will notify Admissions after the child's visit day to determine whether child will be accepted.
- Admissions will notify family of acceptance and contact tuition collector to coordinate tuition payment with new family. Admissions will coordinate all other necessary paperwork with new family and update class list.
Policy for Filling a Vacancy after the Start of the School Year
If there is a vacancy after the start of the school year, the following procedure will be followed:
- The family withdrawing will notify VP of Admissions of the withdrawal date immediately.
- VP of Admissions and the Tuition Collector will determine whether the family is entitled to any tuition refund in accordance with the Withdrawal Policy. The Co-Presidents will confirm the refund amount and authorize the Assistant Treasurer to prepare a check.
- Vacancies that occur after March 1st will not be filled. Any exceptions will go to the Board.
- VP of Admissions will exhaust the waiting list by starting with the date of application and balance within the existing class after consulting the appropriate teacher.
Withdrawal Policy and Tuition Payments
Upon notification of your child’s acceptance to Child’s Play, a non-refundable registration deposit of one month’s tuition is required to reserve your child’s place. This registration deposit is non-refundable if you withdraw your child at any time, but otherwise applies towards tuition.
If your child is withdrawn from Child’s Play after you have started tuition payments, you are entitled to a partial tuition reimbursement only if Child’s Play is able to fill the vacancy that your family left. In this case, your family will be refunded tuition paid minus two month’s tuition (which includes the non-refundable registration deposit of one month’s tuition and an additional administrative fee of one month’s tuition). Tuition reimbursements involving families under these circumstances will be made on December 1st.
For example: If you notify the school on July 10th that your child will not be attending, you would have been responsible for five months of tuition payments (this includes the registration deposit plus four months of tuition from April to July). If Child’s Play is able to fill the vacancy that your family left, you will be entitled to a refund of three months tuition payments (the five months paid minus one month’s registration deposit and one month’s administrative fee).
Please note: This policy applies to all members of the Child’s Play cooperative regardless of when you notify the school of withdrawal, or the reasons for withdrawing. Unfortunately, we cannot grant exceptions for situations such as when a family is transferred out-of-state, or chooses to apply or transfer to another school. Exceptions will be granted on a case-by-case basis however, for reasons such as severe illness, resulting in withdrawal. If you are faced with such a situation, please contact the Co-Presidents as soon as possible.
Tuition Payment Schedule
A non-refundable registration deposit of 10% (one month's tuition) is due on March 10th (or upon acceptance to the school) to hold your child's place. Our tuition is based upon a ten-month school year. The monthly tuition rate is determined by dividing the total tuition rate for the year by 10 months and rounded to the nearest dollar.
If tuition rates for the upcoming school year are not finalized by the March registration period, then a retroactive adjustment will be assessed to later payments (April, May or June) as necessary. If necessary, revised tuition bills (including the necessary retroactive adjustment, if any) will be forwarded as soon as final rates have been determined.
You may then select one of three tuition payment plans: Annual, Semi-annual or Monthly.
Annual Payments: Full tuition is due within (30) days of acceptance.
Semi-Annual Payments: Initial payment due within (30) days of acceptance, second and final payment due by September 1st.
Monthly Payments: Due on the 1st day of each month, final payment due by March 1st or within (10) months of acceptance, but no later than May 1st.
Tuition Payment Plans
All payments are due on the first of every month. Reminders will not be sent out, so mark your calendars, enroll in your bank's auto payment plan or our auto credit card payment plan.
A grace period of 10 days is granted. However, if your payment is not received by the tenth of the month, you will be assessed a $15.00 late fee, which should be included with that month's payment. NO EXCEPTIONS WILL BE MADE TO THIS POLICY.
Tuition Payment Plans for Late-Joiners
Tuition plan options may be adjusted for those families that are offered acceptance into Child’s Play any time later than the month of the admissions lottery. All payments must be completed within (10) months or by May 1st, whichever comes first.
All families must pay their deposit of one month’s tuition within (1) week of acceptance to the school. For families that opt to pay tuition in a yearly sum, payment is due within (30) days of acceptance. For families that opt to pay semi-annually, the initial payment installment is due within 30 days of acceptance and the remaining balance by March 1st of the school year. For families that opt to pay monthly, the initial payment is due on the first day of the month after acceptance. Final payment is due in 9 months or May 1st of the school year, whichever comes first.
- Example A: A family joins in May and wants monthly payments. One month’s deposit is paid in May within one week of acceptance. They then pay 9 more monthly payments, and finish paying by February 1st of the school year.
- Example B: Another family joins in September and wants monthly payments. One month’s deposit is paid in September within one week of acceptance. If this family paid 9 more monthly installments of tuition, they would finish paying in June. Since this is after the deadline of finishing all payments by May 1st, they will need to pay on an accelerated schedule (8 months instead of 9) in order to complete their payments by May 1st. Monthly tuition amounts would be adjusted accordingly.
As the year progresses, many children wish to increase their attendance by enrolling in our Lunch Bunch and/or Extended Day programs. As these routines change for the children, many families pay this added fee monthly throughout the remainder of the school year. For example, the amount would be based upon the full rate for one extended day divided by ten months multiplied by the number of months remaining in the school year that the child will attend the program.
When adding extended days in the Preschool or Nursery programs, a full month's tuition would be due once your new schedule is started, regardless of missed days within that month. The exception to this is if the date started is past the mid-month period, in which case partial (or half) payment would be required.
Payment can be mailed directly to the Tuition Collector or left in the Tuition Collector's mailbox in the Post Office (in the Preschool class). Additionally, you may pay your tuition bill with a Visa, Mastercard or Discover card. Our Tuition Collector can set you up on an automatic credit card payment plan for the 1st of each month, if you would prefer. If payment is not received by the due date, the Tuition Collector will contact you regarding collection. If a tuition payment check is returned to Child's Play due to insufficient funds, you will be responsible for all assessed bank fees. If it is necessary to place any overdue balance on an account for collection, parents agree to pay the cost of collection and/or attorney's fees.
History of Current Tuition Payment Plan and Early Withdrawal Policy
In an effort to help current and future parents of Child's Play understand the history of some of the policies that are in place, the following is a description of how the existing tuition payment plan and early withdrawal policy came about. Because the school's population changes from year to year, this piece is being written as a reference piece. It in no way suggests that what was created in the 1992-1993 year is appropriate for all future years. However, it would be unfair to you and to the school if changes were made without the benefit of having access to this information. Hopefully this will facilitate discussion and decision making about how to ensure the policy's effectiveness and appropriateness for the school, as well as its acceptance by all the members of the Cooperative.
1. Situation/School Climate in 1992-1993
In 1992-93 there was a serious sense of insecurity about the financial health of Child's Play. In fact, each monthly budget report was subject to big fluctuations in the tuition income projections. This was due to the schedule of tuition collection and the degree of commitment that people were asked to make to the school. An initial "deposit" was collected from families in the Spring to hold a place for their child. No further tuition was due until September, at the beginning of the academic year. This resulted in a particularly unpredictable Kindergarten enrollment, and placed an unnatural and awkward burden on that class. Preschool also experienced this, but to a lesser extent. Simply put, it was too easy to withdraw your child, because there was nothing in place to make a family think twice about pulling their child out.
From the school Treasurer's perspective, it was a logistical nightmare. From the Board's perspective, it was frustrating and counterproductive. Too much energy was being spent on worrying about the bottom-line, rather than on other more optimistic matters. Most importantly, it was having an adverse effect on the teachers and children. Consequently, we needed to create a system that would:
- Provide a financially secure and professional environment for the teachers.
- Guarantee that the four programs would in fact exist for the children.
- Have a realistic projected budget for the following school year as early as possible; late February - early March was ideal given the important decisions that had to be made around that time (teachers' contracts, tuition levels, program viability, etc.)
The Co-Presidents and other Board members canvassed other schools, both privates and cooperatives, to see how they managed their tuition collection and early withdrawal policies.
Private Schools were quite rigid. Essentially 2 to 3 lump payments were due, the last being in the fall/early winter. Early withdrawal always meant losing substantial amounts of money, in most cases a semester's worth. To help the parents, there were Tuition Insurance options.
Other Co-ops were as relaxed as we were, but in the process of rethinking their policies for the same reasons we were. In addition, their programs were smaller and exclusively preschools. They did not have a kindergarten program, which does have its own unique considerations.
3. Policy Change:
After digesting all the information, and keeping our three initial goals in mind, we agreed to create something that was somewhere in the "middle." We did not want to be as extreme as the private schools, most definitely were not ready to consider tuition insurance, yet we could not continue to be as relaxed as we had been. The result was the following:
- Change the schedule of tuition payments.
- Preserve the monthly payment plan option (very important to CP).
- Increase the level of commitment by the families when they enroll their child.
The timing of the initial deposit in Feb/March would stay the same but the amount due would reflect exactly 10% of the annual tuition, which conveniently represented one month's tuition. In all cases this was an increase from the previous amounts. This deposit would be non-refundable.
Nothing would be due again until June. Two month's tuition would be due at that time. The rest of the payments would continue through the summer and fall, ending in January. So even though families could opt to pay annually, semi-annually or monthly, this system was really based on a monthly model, successfully preserving the monthly payment option.
In order for Child's Play to plan for the existence of a particular program for the following academic year, it needed to have a realistic picture of how many children would be participating in that program. Requesting a higher degree of commitment from prospective families would certainly help the school with its estimations.
With an estimate in hand, the Board could project a conservative tuition total that could be expected from a particular program. For example, a class at full enrollment for the following year (based on the March deposits) with a capacity of 15, could be budgeted for 13 full tuitions. That would allow for four withdrawals, if they took place in September. At that point, the school would have collected 6 month's tuition from each of the 4 families. The math: 15 - 4 = 11 students, 11 full tuitions plus the 6 months x 4 (equaling 2 full tuitions) = 13 full tuitions. This puts the total tuition collected at the original budget estimate. The program stays financially intact, no burden is placed on the school or the teacher. The loss is split between the school and families.
This new plan, intended to be more lenient than the private schools,' allowed for families to withdraw on a month to month basis. We hoped that this would encourage people to make their decision in a timely manner so that Child's Play could still have access to its waiting lists. Come September, these lists diminish, if not evaporate, entirely.
The intent behind this new policy was to ensure the complete financial soundness of Child's Play. Once it was established, and the school felt more confident, then perhaps we could make changes to this policy. We had hoped that the gains of one year would help offset the losses of another, as each year is so unpredictable. We wanted to keep the big picture in mind, especially after having experienced such insecurity.
Certainly, a pattern of gains would result in a discussion of what should be done with the "surplus." Returning the money to the families is one of many options.
In closing, the following are some questions that Child's Play may want to ask itself each year, as it strives for a policy that the whole cooperative can live with:
- Is the school financially sound? If so, examine why.
- Can the Board focus on other issues other than money?
- Do the teachers feel that they have a secure professional environment within which to work?
- Can we confidently plan ahead and guarantee the next year's programs?
- Can we preserve the monthly tuition plan option?
During the fall of 2000, the Board recommended a slight modification of our Tuition Payment Schedule. The Board found that most withdrawals occured between March and June when families are hearing about acceptances at other schools. The Tuition Payment Schedule prior to this review allowed enrollees to hold their spot for a 10% deposit throughout the spring without making any further financial commitment until June 1st. Our plan at that time had a 10 day grace period but no penalty for those who chose to delay the payment further. If a family were still considering options on June 1st, they could theoretically hold back payment well into June. This put the Tuition Collector in an awkward position and resulted in Child's Play not being sure of its true enrollment at the end of the school year.
The March through June time frame is when our waiting lists are the longest, and it is the best time for Admissions to refill openings left by early withdrawals. Additionally, the school would lose not only two months tuition that was due by June 1st, but a full year's tuition if the spot could not be refilled.
The current Tuition Payment Schedule now considers the following:
- Tuition is collected in a more timely way and payments are more evenly spread to make it easier for families to budget and remember to pay on time.
- The Withdrawal Policy remains the same so families who are considering other options are not penalized as long as they make their decision before June 1st.
- By limiting the grace period to the 10th of the month in April, May and June, Admissions is given the best possible chance to refill openings when our applicant lists are the longest.
- Those on the annual and semi-annual plan now have a simplified payment system with one and two additional payments, respectively, after the initial 10% deposit.
- All families on the monthly payment plan will pay in 10 consecutive monthly payments for their core program, ending in December of the school year. This provides a clear period of time between the end and start of the tuition year payments as the payments for the following year begin in March.
Child's Play, Inc. By-Laws
ARTICLE I: Name, Purpose and Seal
Section 1: Name
The name of this corporation, which is a non-business and nonprofit corporation, organized and existing under the laws of the State of Rhode Island, is Child's Play Nursery School and Kindergarten Inc.
Section 2: Purpose
The corporation is constituted for the purpose of operating a school in the interest of young people.
Section 3: Seal
The seal of the corporation shall, subject to alteration by the Board of Directors, consist of a circular die with the words
"CHILD'S PLAY, INC., INCORPORATED 1979, RHODE ISLAND" embossed thereon.
ARTICLE II: Members
Section 1: Membership
The membership of the corporation shall consist of the parent or parents of each child enrolled as a student and the teacher or teachers employed from time to time by the corporation.
Section 2: Student Policy
Child's Play, Inc. admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all rights, privileges, programs and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.
ARTICLE III: Meetings of Members
Section 1: Place of Meetings
All meetings of the corporation shall be held in Rhode Island at such place as is stated in the call of the meeting.
Section 2: Annual Meetings
The annual meeting of the members shall be held on the fourth Thursday in May of each year, or at such other time as may be designated by the Board of Directors and stated in the call of the meeting. If such annual meeting is omitted on the day herein provided for, a special meeting may be held in place thereof, and any business transacted or selections made at such special meeting shall have the same effect as if transacted or made at the annual meeting. Purposes for which the annual meeting is to be held, in addition to those prescribed by law and these by-laws, may be specified by the Board of Directors or by written notice delivered to the Secretary and signed by the President or a majority of the Directors or one third (1/3) or more members of the corporation.
Section 3: Special Meetings
Special meetings of the members may be called at any time by the President, the Board of Directors or one third (1/3) or more members of the corporation, stating the time, place and purposes of the meeting.
Section 4: Notice of Meetings
Notice of the time and place of the annual and of each special meeting of the members shall be given by the Secretary at least five (5) days prior to such meeting by written notice. Such written notice may be made by publication in the schools newsletter, by hand delivery at the school or by United States mail. If the meeting is a special meeting, the notice shall specify the business to be transacted thereat. In the absence, disability or failure to act of the Secretary, notice shall be given by the President or by any other officer or person designated by the Board of Directors.
Section 5: Quorum and Voting
The presence in person of one fourth (1/4) of the membership shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business and, except as otherwise provided in these by-laws, at any meeting at which a quorum is present, the vote of a majority of the members present shall decide any question brought before such meeting. The members present at a duly classed or held meeting, at which a quorum is present, may continue to do business until adjournment notwithstanding the withdrawal of such members to leave less than a quorum.
Section 6: Nominating Committee
The President of the corporation shall, not less than sixty (6) days prior to the date of the annual meeting of the members, appoint a nominating committee consisting of not fewer than three (3) members. This committee shall at the annual meeting of the members report its recommendations for Officers and Directors to be selected at such meeting. Additional nominations may be made at the annual meeting.
ARTICLE IV: Directors
Section 1: Directors
The Board of Directors shall consist of not fewer than nine (9) and not more than seventeen (17). Directors as determined in the first instance by the incorporators and thereafter within the limits specified above by the members at any annual meeting or at any special meeting held for the purpose or by the Board of Directors. The co-Presidents shall be members of the Board of Directors, ex officio, during their term of office.
Section 2: Selection of Directors
Members of the Board of Directors shall be selected as follows: Following the adoption of these by-laws and the determination of the number of Directors by the incorporators, the Directors shall be selected by the incorporators and thereafter, except as otherwise provided herein, they shall be selected annually by the members of the corporation at the annual meeting.
Section 3: Vacancies
The Board of Directors may fill any vacancies in the Board however arising. Any vacancy existing in the Board of Directors may be left unfilled. The Directors shall be members of the corporation at the time of their election.
Section 4: Terms of Office
The term of office of the members of the Board of Directors shall be one (1) year. Members of the Board of Directors may be elected to consecutive terms.
Section 5: Powers of Directors
The Board of Directors shall have and may exercise all the powers of the corporation except such as are conferred upon the members by law, by the Articles of Association or by these by-laws. The Board shall be responsible for all matters pertaining to the activities of the corporation, including, but not limited to, its educational policies and practices; its properties and buildings; planning and administration; the employment of teachers; determination of the budgets and managing and expending funds.
Section 6: Meetings of the Board of Directors.
Regular meetings of the Board of Directors may be held without notice at such places, either within or without the State of Rhode Island, and at such times as the Board may determine. Special meetings of the Board of Directors shall be called by the President, or in his or her absence, disability or failure to act, by the Secretary or a majority of the Board of Directors in office and shall be held at such time and at such places within or without the State of the Rhode Island as may be designated in the request for the call of the meetings. Notice of all special meetings of the Board shall be given at least three (3) days prior to the date of the meeting to each director, stating the time and place of the meeting.
Section 7: Quorum
The presence in person of a majority of the Directors shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business, but a lesser number may adjourn any meeting. When a quorum is present at any meeting, a majority of the members in attendance thereat shall, subject to any conflicting provisions of these by-laws, decide any question brought before such meeting.
ARTICLE V: Officers and Agents
Section 1: Officers
The officers of the corporation shall be two Co-Presidents, one or more Vice Presidents, a Treasurer, a Secretary and such other officers or assistant officers as the Board of Directors may deem appropriate or necessary. All officers shall be Directors. One person may hold two or more offices except the offices of President and Secretary.
Section 2: Election
The officers shall be elected initially by the incorporators and thereafter, except as otherwise provided herein, annually by the members of the corporation at the annual meeting.
Section 3: Vacancies
A vacancy in any office may be filled by the Board of Directors.
Section 4: Co-President
One or both of the Co-Presidents or, in their absence, a Vice President, shall preside at all meetings of the members and of the Board of Directors. The Co-President shall be, ex officio, members of all committees and shall have the general powers and duties usually vested in the office of the president of a corporation and shall have such other powers and duties as may be prescribed by the Board of Directors of by these by-laws. As used herein, the term "President" shall mean one or both of the Co-Presidents.
Section 5: Vice President
In the absence or disability of the President, the Vice President shall perform all of the duties of the President and shall have all the powers and be subject to all the restrictions upon the President. The Vice President shall have such other powers and perform such other duties as may be prescribed by the Board of Directors or in the by-laws.
Section 6: Secretary
The Secretary shall keep, or cause to be kept, a book of minutes of all meetings of Directors and members, with the time and place of holding, whether regular or special, and if special, how authorized, the notice thereof given, the names of those present at Directors meetings, the number of members present at members meetings, and the proceedings thereof.
Section 7: Treasurer
The Treasurer shall generally be in charge of the financial books and records of the corporation, shall report to the Board of Directors an d members on the financial condition of the corporation and shall receive and disburse funds on the direction of the President, the Board of Directors or in accordance with the provisions of any operating budget approved by the Board of Directors.
ARTICLE VI: Committees
The Board of Directors may at any time appoint such committees and agents as it may deem necessary, may prescribe their powers and duties, and may revoke such appointments at pleasure.
ARTICLE VII: Amendments
These by-laws or the articles of association may be amended, altered, or repealed by two-thirds of the members of the corporation present in person at any annual or special meeting of the corporation at which a quorum is present, provided that written notice shall be given of any annual or special meeting at which such action is taken, which notice shall either specify the subject matter of the proposed alteration, amendment or appeal, or the articles to be affected thereby. Members shall receive written notice of the proposed changes at least one (1) week prior to such meeting.
These by-laws may also be altered, amended, or repealed at any regular or special meeting of the Board of Directors by two-thirds of the Directors then in office, provided that members shall receive written notice of the proposed changes at least one (1) week prior to such meeting. The Board of Directors shall notify each member in writing of any such changes.
By-laws Version 06/96
Executive Board Authority and Structure
The Executive Board and the Community as a Whole
Child's Play has an Executive Board (EB), consisting of the Co-Presidents, Vice Presidents, Secretary, Treasurer, 3 class representatives, and the heads of certain standing committees (Fundraising and Communications) as well as teachers, the Education Coordinator and the Coop Ed Specialist. The EB gets its authority from the CP community as a whole, and is given authority to make decisions on matters that are not central to the aims and aspirations of the cooperative as a whole. Authority on those fundamental matters is always under the authority of the whole CP community of parents. A few examples of such fundamental matters include decisions affecting: a) the decision making structure of the school; b) work and involvement responsibilities of parents; c) personnel structure (how many teachers, whether to have assistant teachers, etc.); d) broad tuition policy (raising tuition vs. admitting more students, no-refund policy for withdrawing students, etc.). In specific cases, the EB and the community of parents can always make use of committees to study and recommend actions, and they can even turn fundamental matters back to the EB if this is determined at a community meeting after due notice and discussion.
No "General Board"
There has been a General Board, differing from the Executive Board mainly in including as members the heads of all committees. For simplicity, this should no longer be a separate body, though the group including committee heads should continue to meet at the beginning of the year, and as needed.
There are several standing committees serving the EB and CP community as a whole (Admissions, Long Range Planning, Finance, Fundraising, Communications, Buildings and Grounds, Special Events). In addition to these standing committees, the EB may designate one or more Ad Hoc committees consisting of board and/or non-board members. The functions and authority of these committees shall be determined by the EB.
At the discretion of the Co-Presidents, decisions which involve issues of confidentiality or privacy of individual members or families may be resolved either within one of the standing committees, or, if more fundamental issues are at stake, by the EB as a whole. Confidential questions should be decided by as few members as possible so long as no larger issues of policy are raised. A few examples of larger policy issues include (but are not limited to) family financial matters, child behavior or health, and some personnel matters. Interests in confidentiality must always be balanced by the possible need for a democratically authorized decision.
The Executive Board, the Co-Presidents, and the Teachers
The Co-Presidents and the meeting facilitator of the co-op are responsible for covering and structuring the meetings of the whole co-op; the Co-Presidents are responsible for meetings of the EB. The Executive Board normally meets monthly, and so cannot be consulted on the myriad and literally daily list of actions and decisions. In the interim period, the Co-Presidents, in conjunction with the Education Coordinator, teachers and other relevant co-op members with the input of the Coop Ed Specialist, make decisions regarding the co-op. Thus the Co-Presidents are entitle d to some discretion in their judgment as to which issues call for EB or whole community discussion or decision.
Executive Board Meetings
EB shall meet monthly, publish an agenda one week prior to its meetings, accept agenda entries from members up to one week prior to publication of agenda, and minutes will be available on request. EB meetings should include a portion open to participation from any co-op members, for the purpose of commenting on agenda items and/or bringing issues to the attention of the EB, asking their advice on how to proceed with some proposal, etc. For reasons of efficiency, the voting portion of the meeting shall be open only to EB members and others specifically asked to attend by the EB, which will include the teachers. The Education Coordinator and teachers are typically considered voting members of the community. The Coop Ed Specialist sits on the board but is not a voting member.
Policy Review Procedure
Policy is established by majority decision of the cooperative's voting members present at a meeting at which there is a quorum, unless explicitly stated otherwise by another policy.
Policy is executed by those entities within Child's Play that have jurisdiction over the policy (i.e. Executive Committee, Co-Presidents, staff, etc.).
The Guidelines below are meant to help define the process by which Child's Play as a co-operative deals with initiating and changing policy. In general, the process is one of presentation, reflection, revision and voting. The process itself is meant to encourage co-op members to fully participate in the development of policy and to provide different types of opportunities for people to be involved. The intention is that Child's Play policies are brought forward in a democratic and open manner with the knowledge and consent of the entire co-op. The Guidelines for establishing new policy or modifying existing policy are:
Proposals for new policies or policy revision can be made by any co-op member. Typically an initiative for a new or request to revise policy will be remanded to a committee for study recommendations and the drafting of a formal proposal. The Co-Presidents will have the authority to either form an ad hoc committee or move that the issue be taken up by already standing committees. Members of the co-op who are interested in the issue would be invited to participate in the committees activities.
Policy proposals are to be formally presented to the co-op at all co-op meetings. Major policy proposals are to be presented at the All-School Meetings for discussion and voting. It is important that all members of the co-op have the opportunity to voice their opinions regarding co-op policy and the All School Meetings provide a good forum for open discussion.
A period of time would be established after a policy proposal had been submitted for review and comment. The standard procedure for presentation and review of a formal proposal is:
- They be distributed just prior to an All-School Meeting in order that co-op members can review the proposal that is to be presented.
- There is a period of discussion regarding the proposal for comments and dissenting opinions at the All-School Meeting.
- If the proposal is being presented at the All-School Meeting for voting, a motion is made to either vote on the proposal as is, vote on the proposal with minor revisions or move that the proposal go back to committee for revision.
Modifications to a proposed policy could be made during this review and comment period. Co-op members are encouraged to provide their opinions and comments regarding proposals at any time to those who are on the committee drafting the proposal.
Policy is accepted or rejected by a majority vote at an All-School Meeting. Policies are voted on by co-op members who are in attendance at All-School Meetings. This underscores the importance of the co-op members' attendance at these meetings.
Decision Making Guidelines
Purpose: The purpose of this document is to describe the various administrative and working bodies within Child's Play and to outline a set of guidelines that address their responsibilities and decision making roles. This document is not a set of rules and regulations man dating how the school and its different bodies are to operate. Rather this document puts forth a set of general guidelines which illustrates the range of responsibilities for the different administrative officers, Education Coordinator, teachers, and committees within the co-op with the intention that these guidelines serve as templates to address issues of responsibility not dealt with explicitly here. It is hoped that this will help in the development of a common understanding of how the organizational components of Child's Play operate.
The Long Range Planning Committee is developing this guidelines document with two goals in mind, 1) To provide a general set of guidelines that can be applied to the evolving administrative organization of Child's Play and 2) To provide the Child's Play community with an overview of the operation of the Co-op. Many of the guidelines are based on how the school currently operates and reflect its historical evolution and lessons learned from previous Child's Play members. Others represent an attempt to clarify issues that have recently been brought to the attention of the Co-op's members. This document does not attempt to explore all possible decision making aspects of running Child's Play. It would take entirely too much time to do so and would certainly be incomplete. Instead the different groups within Child's Play along with their most important roles and responsibilities are summarized providing an overview of their part in the decision making process. Based on these summaries and general examples, the scope of the different bodies' roles and responsibilities are defined.
Child's Play Administrative and Decision Making Bodies:
There are five different administrative and decision making bodies in Child's Play, these are: the Co-Presidents, the executive board, Ed Coordinator/teachers, the committees and the parents.
1. The Executive Board
The executive board consists of parents who, for the duration of the school year, have been voted in to the position of Co-Presidents, VP of Admissions, VP of Long Range Planning, Secretary, Treasurer, 3 class representatives, Marketing Chair, and Co-Chairs of Fundraising; in addition to the Education Coordinator, teachers and the Co-op Education Specialist. Each member of the Executive Board has responsibilities for their positions outside of the separate responsibilities of the Executive Board itself.
- Meet monthly, publishes an agenda one week prior to its meetings, and makes minutes of its meetings available for viewing.
- Make decisions on matters that are not central to the aims and aspirations of the community as a whole.
- May be involved in decisions on issues of confidentiality.
The Co-Presidents are responsible for the good and efficient management of the school. They must be people-oriented managers who are organized and willing to act as sounding boards for parents' and teachers' ideas and complaints. Their most important task is to establish a relationship of mutual trust with parents, children and teachers in order to cultivate and boost the morale of the co-op.
- Preside over all meetings.
- Serve as official representatives of the co-op.
- Oversee overall effectiveness of the program.
- Supervise, coordinate, assist and advise the members/committees in carrying out their responsibilities.
The list of committees stands as follows:
- Long Range Planning
- Buildings and Grounds
- Special Events
Each committee consists of a committee head and any number of committee members who may be parents or members of the staff.
- Each committee has its mission to accomplish and is responsible for carrying out the duties linked to such mission.
- Each committee maintains a committee binder which contains a statement of its mission, a description of its duties, a list of all committee members, the minutes of meetings, documentation relevant to the tasks of the committee and the end of year report.
- Each committee meets as necessary.
- Each committee takes minutes at any of its meetings and forwards copies to the secretary and Co-Presidents.
4. Education Coordinator/Teachers
The Education Coordinator and teachers are professionals who, with the parents in the co-op, are partners in the education of the children attending Child's Play. The Education Coordinator and teachers, with input from the Co-op Education Specialist, develop and articulate the educational component of the co-op.
- Implement the philosophy of Child's Play, which is to provide a loving, safe, healthy and developmentally appropriate place of learning.
- Keep the classroom records and health safety records.
- Maintain the NAEYC Accreditation, BrightStars and Licensing Regulations.
- Establish goals and objectives for programs.
- Direct assistant teachers and duty parents.
- Attend Board Meetings, All-School Meetings, staff meetings and other meetings as needed.
- Carry out with the Co-Presidents overall operation of the program.
- Schedule parent/teacher conferences semi-annually.
- Maintain inventories of classroom supplies and equipment and request the purchase of supplies and equipment when needed.
The Child's Play parents play a fundamental role in the operation and administration of the school. They have oversight in their various roles as Co-Presidents, committee members and executive officers of all aspects of the running of the school. In addition with the teachers they are involved in the classroom activities.
- Attend all five All-School Meetings
- Serve as members of committees
- Participate as Duty Parents in the classroom
- Form the administrative and governing bodies of the school
- Hold responsibility for the fiscal operation of the school
- Act as voting body of the school
- Contribute to the well-being of the school through support of school-sponsored activities