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Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) is designed to increase program quality by bridging the gap between the minimum standards set by each state’s child care licensing standards and the high standards that reflect research-based best practices. For this discussion, you will research your state’s regulations and compare them to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Accreditation Standards. View this four-minute video on The Benefits of NAEYC Accreditation (Links to an external site.), which provides an overview of the NAEYC Accreditation benefits, to further familiarize yourself with the accreditation process before drafting your discussion post.

In your initial post,

Compare your state’s licensing regulations to the NAEYC Accreditation Standards in the following categories for a preschool-age classroom of four-year old children: (a) child to staff ratio, (b) group size, (c) teacher’s preparation, and (d) director preparation.

CHAPTER
4
Policies and Procedures: Tools to Ensure Your Program’s Smooth
Operation
NAEYC Administrator Competencies Addressed in This Chapter:
Management Knowledge and Skills
4. Educational Programming
The ability to develop and implement a program to meet the needs of young children at different ages and developmental levels (infant/toddler,
preschool, kindergarten)
Knowledge of administrative practices that promote the inclusion of children with special needs
5. Program Operations and Facilities Management
Knowledge and application of policies and procedures that meet state/local regulations and professional standards pertaining to the health and
safety of young children
7. Marketing and public relations
Skill in developing a business plan and effective promotional literature, handbooks, newsletters, and press releases
9. Oral and Written Communication
Knowledge of the mechanics of writing including organizing ideas, grammar, punctuation, and spelling
The ability to use written communication to effectively express one’s thoughts
Early Childhood Knowledge and Skills
6. Family and community relationships
Ability to communicate effectively with parents through written and oral communication
Learning Outcomes
After studying this chapter, you will be able to:
1.
Discuss the contributions well-developed policies and procedures can make to your program.
2.
Develop an outline for a staff manual, listing the major headings it should include.
3.
Describe some ways the family handbook is different from the staff manual.
4.
Identify the types of issues that should be addressed in an administrative manual.
Grace’s Experience
When Grace stepped in to serve as her program’s director, she discovered that she was not sure how to handle many of the routine tasks that were now
her responsibility. Previous directors had led the program effectively, but she found that there was no guidance beyond her own history with the center
and the institutional memory of some other long-time employees. No policies or procedures had been established about interviewing prospective
employees, filling openings from the waiting list, and planning for staff vacations.
Policies and procedures guide a program’s operations. In this chapter, we discuss how policies and procedures ensure compliance with applicable federal,
state, and local laws; child care regulations; and voluntary accreditation and/or QRIS standards if applicable, while helping the program stay true to its
core values and vision and strive to realize its mission.
4.1 POLICIES AND PROCEDURES: TOOLS TO ENSURE YOUR PROGRAM’S SMOOTH
OPERATION
Policies address issues that are critical to the center’s operations and include rules employees must follow. They describe the program’s specific plans for
achieving particular goals. They can apply to employees as well as participating families. Policies often answer the question, “What is to be done and by
whom?” A policy might state that the director is responsible for recruiting and retaining qualified staff. Other policies clarify expectations of
employment; for example, establishing the length of employees’ annual paid vacation. A third group of policies describes rules participating families are
expected to follow; for example, a policy might state that children’s birthday celebrations must not include sugar-filled treats, such as cupcakes and
candy.
Policies should be written as comprehensive statements describing previously made decisions, identified guiding principles, or already agreed-upon
courses of action that will help the program achive its goals. Many policies will be included in a program’s family handbook and/or staff manual; other
written policies might serve as a resource for program administrators to ensure consistency and fair treatment for employees and families alike.
Procedures describe specific strategies for complying with established policies. They may identify, step-by-step, how to reach agreed-upon goals and
include forms developed to accomplish these tasks. Like policies, most procedures will be included in appropriate staff manuals and family handbooks;
others apply only to administrators and are less widely circulated.
A procedure that applies to all employees describes applying for vacation time. This procedure should indicate where the form for requesting a vacation
can be found, how far in advance and to whom requests are to be submitted, and when employees can expect a response to their vacation request.
The family handbook should include procedures that apply to families. Examples include a request that families notify the center if their child is sick and
will not be attending for several days or the procedure for families to identify individuals authorized to pick up their child at the end of the day.
Some procedures apply only to administrators. When filling a staff vacancy, the director may be required to (a) post a notice in the staff break room, (b)
advertise in the local paper, and (c) list the job opening on an online website such as Craigslist. It would not be appropriate to include this procedure in
the widely circulated staff manual, but it should be included in the program’s administrative manual that ensures consistency in carrying out many
administrative tasks.
Policies and Procedures Guide Both Employees and Families
Policies and procedures describe each stakeholder’s responsibilities and guide their interactions. Some of their content may be specified by child care
regulations or voluntary standards, and in all instances they should reflect reliance on the profession’s Code of Ethical Conduct (NAEYC, 2011a
(http://content.thuzelearning.com/books/Freeman.4250.18.1/sections/p700049957200000000000000000344b#P70004995720000000000000000035B3) ) which identifies
early childhood educators’ ethical responsibilities and describes how members of the profession aspire to behave as they work with young children and
their families, colleagues, employers, and the community.
The staff manual is an internal document that describes qualifications for employment; includes job descriptions; and spells out employees’ rights and
responsibilities, including the expectation that all employees are to comply with laws, regulations, and standards designed to safeguard the health, safety,
and well-being of children, families, employees, employers, and the community. The staff manual should additionally create clear expectations related to
employees’ professionalism and reliance on ethical standards. It should contribute to the creation of the center’s culture of caring; ensure the center’s
smooth day-to-day operation; and guide employees’ interactions with one another, the families they serve, and the community. In short, the staff manual
helps the center stay on course for accomplishing its goals and achieving its vision. A comprehensive staff manual increases the likelihood that policies
and procedures will be implemented consistently.
Families, like employees, play a critical role in ensuring that the program’s operations comply with applicable laws, regulations, and standards. A
program’s family handbook is distributed to the families of all participating children and may also be posted on the program’s website. It should include
information about the program’s operations, policies, and procedures. The family handbook should include specifics about the program’s day-to-day
operations. It should provide guidance about how children should dress, describe nap-time routines, and specify drop-off and pickup procedures. Many
programs also have policies addressing holiday observances and create guidelines about bringing toys from home. Some items in the family handbook
ensure that the program complies with licensing regulations. Examples of regulations-based policies families are responsible for following include
requiring children to submit proof of specific immunizations and requiring the isolation or exclusion of children with identified contagious conditions
until they are no longer contagious.
In addition, the family handbook should make it clear that this program’s operations and interactions are guided by the NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct.
(See Appendix 2 (http://content.thuzelearning.com/books/Freeman.4250.18.1/sections/p700049957200000000000000000318e#P700049957200000000000000000318E) .)
In fact, the Code requires that programs keep families informed about their philosophy, curriculum, assessment practices, the qualifications of its staff,
and “explain why we teach as we do” (Code of Ethical Conduct, Principle 2.2). The family handbook is an essential tool for systemically communicating
with all families.
Finally, the administrative manual is a tool that guides the administrator’s decision-making process. It is likely to include specific information about the
employee salary scale; waiting list policies; and benefits, such as reduced tuition for an employee’s child, that are at the director’s discretion to use when
trying to attract particularly desirable personnel.
Like the program’s staff manual and family handbook, the administrative manual should reflect a reliance on the NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct and
additionally specify that administrators’ interactions are guided by the Code’s Supplement for Early Childhood Program Administrators (NAEYC,
2011b (http://content.thuzelearning.com/books/Freeman.4250.18.1/sections/p700049957200000000000000000344b#P70004995720000000000000000035B5) ). (See
Appendix 3 (http://content.thuzelearning.com/books/Freeman.4250.18.1/sections/p70004995720000000000000000032e3#P70004995720000000000000000032E3) .)
Unlike the staff manual and the family handbook, the administrative policies and procedures manual is not distributed. Only the program’s director and
the governing and/or advisory boards have access to this sensitive information. It is important, nonetheless, even in small proprietary programs, to write
down administrative policies and procedures. This ensures fair and equitable treatment and simplifies the director’s day-to-day decision making by
addressing in advance the commonly occurring issues he is likely to face on a regular basis. It can also serve as a guide when facing infrequently
occurring situations, such as orienting a new director. In this way, it serves as the program’s institutional memory.
Policies and Procedures Addressed in Licensing Regulations
Many states’ child care licensing regulations require that licensed programs have written policies and procedures for staff and families covering
particular aspects of their operation. Licensing regulations in many states require that topics such as the following be addressed in handbooks for
families:
Ages of children served
Hours and days of operation
Procedures for releasing children at the end of the day
Procedures for handling illness and injuries
Procedures for notifying families of field trips
Notification that child care providers are mandated reporters of suspected child abuse and neglect
Accepted forms of discipline (NARA, 2013
(http://content.thuzelearning.com/books/Freeman.4250.18.1/sections/p700049957200000000000000000344b#P70004995720000000000000000035B9) )
Manuals for center personnel may be required to address the following issues:
Job qualifications, including education, training, and experience
Essential job functions
Staff performance evaluation procedures
Termination procedures
Advocates urge states to require child care providers to develop written emergency plans with specific action steps they should be prepared to take in
human-made or natural disasters, with a special focus on infants and toddlers and children with disabilities who would need special assistance in the case
of an emergency (Save the Children, 2012
(http://content.thuzelearning.com/books/Freeman.4250.18.1/sections/p700049957200000000000000000344b#P70004995720000000000000000035BB) ). The state board
of education may also require school-based programs for young children, such as prekindergarten and after-school programs, to create policies and
procedures addressing specific aspects of their operation.
Requirements Addressed by Voluntary Standards
The family handbook, employee manual, and the administrative manual of programs participating in voluntary accreditation or their state’s QRIS may be
required to meet additional standards above and beyond those imposed by licensing regulations.
NAEYC Accreditation Standards also address teachers’ preparation, knowledge, and skills. While state regulations may allow lead teachers to be
enrolled in high school or a GED program, NAEYC requires that lead teachers in accredited programs have at least an associate degree or the equivalent.
In addition, NAEYC now requires that at least 50% of the lead teachers in programs with four or more teachers hold a bachelor’s degree in early
childhood or a related field; however, educational requirements are due to increase in 2020, when 75% of all lead teachers will be required to have
earned a bachelor’s degree (NAEYC, 2008
(http://content.thuzelearning.com/books/Freeman.4250.18.1/sections/p700049957200000000000000000344b#P70004995720000000000000000035B3) ; NAEYC, 2014
(http://content.thuzelearning.com/books/Freeman.4250.18.1/sections/p700049957200000000000000000344b#P70004995720000000000000000035B5) ). That means the
staff manual in an accredited center must describe the current minimal requirements for lead teachers, and that it would be advisable for it to inform
teachers about the increased requirements that will be in place in the foreseeable future. The administrative manual should specify that the director is
responsible for ensuring that the teaching staff satisfy the current accreditation requirements and that the program will be ready when the requirements
are increased in 2020. The director will need to take these factors into account when making decisions about hiring new personnel and when promoting
current staff so that the program remains in compliance with applicable accreditation standards.
NAEYC requires other written personnel policies that go substantially beyond licensing requirements. For example, they must describe:
Roles and responsibilities, qualifications, and specialized training required of staff and volunteers
Salary scales and descriptions of benefits for full-time employees, including health insurance, leave, education, and retirement plans
Some of this information will be included in the widely circulated staff manual, but other specifics will, instead, be part of the administrative manual.
The recent emphasis on increasing the nutritional quality of food served to children in child care and efforts to curb childhood obesity are reflected in
many states’ QRIS standards (Gabor & Mantinan, 2012
(http://content.thuzelearning.com/books/Freeman.4250.18.1/sections/p700049957200000000000000000344b#P70004995720000000000000000035AF) ). They may, for
example, prohibit sugar-sweetened drinks, specify that programs serve skim or low-fat milk to children over 2 years old, and increase the number of
servings of vegetables (in addition to white potatoes) children are served each week (South Carolina ABC Child Care Program, n.d
(http://content.thuzelearning.com/books/Freeman.4250.18.1/sections/p700049957200000000000000000344b#P70004995720000000000000000035BD) .)
Centers that are part of a franchise or chain are also likely to be required to satisfy specific non-licensure-related requirements. For example, the operator
may require all employees to wear shirts with the center’s logo, or all classrooms might be required to include specific information in an “introducing the
staff” flyer posted outside each classroom. Dress codes and other organization-specific rules would be included in the center’s staff manual.
Characteristics of Viable Policies and Procedures
Administrators and boards developing policies and procedures need to consider if proposed items are (a) aligned with laws, regulations, and standards;
(b) reasonable and needed; (c) have the potential to contribute to the program’s efforts to fulfill its mission and achieve its vision; and (d) help the
program take a proactive stance rather than a reactive approach to operations and decision making.
They need to be committed to devoting the time and effort required for developing well-thought-through policies and procedures. The program’s
leadership should also be committed to participating in the regular review of policies and procedures to be certain they remain aligned with changing
laws, regulations, and standards and understandings of best practice. Consider these characteristics of viable policies and procedures:
1.
2.
3.
They conform with state laws and regulations, accreditation and/or QRIS standards (when applicable), and to the policies of the funding
agency.
They address as many frequently occurring situations as possible.
The staff and administrative manuals and family handbook are aligned with one another.
4.
5.
6.
7.
They are relatively constant. Policies should stay consistent rather than change every time there are new members on the board. Procedures
should be modified only when better strategies for accomplishing particular goals have been identified.
Every family should receive the family handbook and it should be readily available so that it can be consulted easily. This is a good addition
to the program’s website.
Every member of the staff should receive the staff manual and it should be readily available so that it can be consulted easily.
They may include a stipulation for their annual review.
How Do Policies and Procedures Contribute to the Center’s Smooth Operation?
The first step in ensuring the program’s smooth and consistent operation is thoughtfully and carefully creating comprehensive policies and procedures.
The next step is to develop the family handbook and staff and administration manuals to be certain everyone is informed about the policies and
procedures that apply to them. The third, and perhaps most important step, is ensuring consistent reliance on established manuals and handbooks. All
employees need to be familiar with, and to be held accountable for consistently and reliably following, both the family handbook, which guides their
interactions with participating children and families, and the staff manual, which guides their relationships with their coworkers, administrator, clients,
and employer. Together they create shared understandings about the program’s operations. When the director follows the administrator’s manual,
established policies and procedures will be followed, even when there are changes in leadership. These tools eliminate any number of potential problems
that would otherwise require a great deal of the director’s time and energy.
Well-developed policies and procedures can, for example, help determine how you should prioritize families on your waiting list. Suppose two families
paid the registration fee and put their children’s names on the waiting list for a space in your 3-year-old classroom just days apart. Now, after several
months, you have a long-awaited opening. Do you offer the slot to the first child on the list whose stay-at-home mother wants him to have a wider circle
of friends? Or do you offer it to the family that came to you a few days later and now needs full-time child care so the mother, who has been job hunting
for months and needs money for unexpected medical expenses, can accept the position she was recently offered?
Clear-cut policies aligned with your program’s core values, mission, and vision would help you consistently reach fair, equitable, and defensible
decisions. If your family handbook and program policies indicate you will always fill vacancies on a first-come, first-served basis, you would be bound to
offer enrollment to the first family to pay the application fee. If, on the other hand, your mission prioritizes supporting families’ economic selfsufficiency, and your policies state that you are guided by the established waiting list, you may elect to offer the spot to the second family that needs
reliable child care to support the mother’s employment. In that case, your family handbook might state, “Spaces will be offered to families on the waiting
list on a first-come, first-served basis unless there are compelling extraordinary circumstances.”
Time invested in writing a comprehensive administrator’s manual can make the director more efficient and ensure consistency while saving time and
reducing stress. That is because, instead of ricocheting from one emergency to the next, or relying on memory about how sensitive situations have been
handled in the past, the director can turn to established policies and procedures to guide day-to-day decision making. Established policies and procedures
can help her be confident that her course of action will be well thought out and fair to children, families, employees, and the community.
Application Activity
Working in small groups, review the NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct in Appendix 2
(http://content.thuzelearning.com/books/Freeman.4250.18.1/sections/p700049957200000000000000000318e#P700049957200000000000000000318E) . Develop
an item you think would make a good addition to a program’s staff manual that is suggested by one of the Code’s core values, ideals, or
principles.
Who Is Responsible for Developing Policies and Procedures?
In small family-operated centers, owners or operators often serve as hands-on directors working directly with children, families, and employees. The
director in these centers is likely to develop, interpret, and implement policies and procedures and probably has the autonomy to make decisions as the
need arises.
Centers operated by a local sponsor such as a church, community organization, college, or university may have a board of directors and/or an advisory
committee that works with the director in policy and procedure development and implementation. In these programs, the board is responsible for guiding
the development of policies and procedures that reflect the sponsor’s priorities. They are likely to take the lead in developing policies and procedures
related to the maintenance and use of space and utilities, the program’s financial health, days and hours of operation, and other steps the program can
take to achieve the sponsor’s goals in operating the early childhood program.
While the board focuses on creating a context for the center’s operations, the director should be relied upon as the expert on matters related to young
children and early care and education. She will have appropriate expectations about employees’ strengths and needs, should be able to contribute to
policies and procedures that promote positive relationships with the children and families served, and can provide advice about how to establish and
maintain a good reputation in the community that reflects well on the sponsoring agency.
Large chains and franchises, Head Start, and public school programs usually have a formal organizational structure with established lines of authority. In
these programs, policy formulation, interpretation, and implementation are likely to be formally structured, with the responsibilities of the director and
board clearly identified. In these large organizations, the director is likely to serve as an expert and spokesperson for the early childhood program,
working within this formal structure to advocate for the children and staff. For example, a superintendent in a public school works with the school board
on policies and procedures and sees that the adopted policies and procedures are implemented. This work, however, is likely to be carried out by assistant
superintendents, principals, early childhood coordinators, and classroom teachers who directly implement programs for young children at the local level.
Developing and Revising Your Center’s Family Handbook and/or Staff Manual
Developing the Family Handbook and Staff Manual for a New Program:
The center’s family handbook and staff manual are its official vehicles for communicating how it will achieve its vision while accomplishing its goals.
When you have the opportunity to create the staff manual and family handbook for a new center, you will be developing policies and procedures that will
set the program’s course for the foreseeable future. It is important that these documents create a culture that respects children, families, and colleagues;
encourages and nurtures relationships based on trust and respect; and anticipates frequently asked questions and ordinarily occurring situations to ensure
the program’s smooth operation.
The place to begin the process of developing these materials is with appropriate licensing, accreditation, and/or QRIS standards. You want to be certain
you address all required topics. The next step is to consider how the program will adhere to the core values, keep sight of the vision, and contribute to the
mission of the investors, the education committee of the sponsoring church, the board of a publicly funded agency, or whoever is preparing to begin
serving young children and families.
If you become a director in a small center, you might be expected to single-handedly create its family handbook and staff manual. If you are working
with a board, its members may be a resource upon whom you can rely. In either case, as a director of a new program, you will probably have neither a
staff nor families to review preliminary drafts, so it will be particularly important to rely on professional resources such as this book. It would be wise to
seek feedback from successful directors of existing programs as you develop these foundational documents. It is also advisable to ask a lawyer to review
particular sections before they are finalized to be certain the policies and procedures they describe keep the center in compliance with applicable laws
related to hiring, termination, including individuals who have special needs, handling confidential information, and other issues that may have legal
dimensions. A member of your governing or advisory board or an experienced director in your community may be able to help you locate a lawyer who
can provide this service at a reasonable cost.
Developing a Family Handbook and Staff Manual for an Existing Center or Making Major Revisions to Existing Documents:
If you become the director of a program that has a record of regulatory compliance and success but lacks a comprehensive and up-to-date family
handbook and/or staff manual, your job will be to begin by making “the way we do things here” explicit. That is, you would work to describe how the
center’s “business as usual” approach has helped it comply with laws, regulations, and standards and achieve its goals in the service of young children
and their families.
A director embarking on the creation of these materials for an existing program or a substantial revision of the programs’ existing family handbook
and/or staff manual will want to work with a small group of staff and the center’s governing or advisory board if applicable to be certain she has
accurately described current policies and procedures. It would also be wise to ask a few families to review a proposed family handbook to be certain they
find it to be comprehensive, clear, and easy to understand.
Once you have a preliminary draft of a new or substantially revised family handbook or staff manual, it is time to give employees an opportunity to
provide feedback. This effort will help you confirm that your descriptions of existing policies and procedures are accurate, reasonable, and fair, and will
increase the likelihood staff will take ownership of them. While all feedback on draft materials should be carefully considered, it is unlikely
administrators and boards will incorporate every suggestion made by the center’s employees. It is essential, however, that staff can see evidence that their
feedback has been thoughtfully considered. Remember that they are the face of the center, both within the program and out in the community. They have
a unique perspective that will add an important and much needed dimension to these materials.
Refining the Existing Family Handbook and/or Staff Manual:
Teachers can provide valuable feedback as you refine your program’s staff manual.
David Kostelnik/Pearson Education
The family handbook and staff manual should be systematically reviewed and updated as needed on a regular basis, at least annually. Their review
should be seen as an opportunity for the staff to reflect on where the center is on its journey toward excellence, and also where it can make progress in
realizing its vision. The review process should begin by addressing any gaps, oversights, inconsistencies, or duplications they may have noted in the
existing materials. Then, it would be wise to consider any situations that frequently require teachers or the director to make an exception to an existing
policy or procedure. Any policies or procedures that are not consistently followed may need to be revised. This annual review of the program’s policies
and procedures encourages staff to be reflective practitioners and may help the program comply with a formal policy established by the program’s
governing board.
A Better Way
Grace was surprised by how much time and energy she found herself investing in routine tasks. She had to seek approval from the governing board
every time she needed to fill a staff vacancy, when making anything but the most clear-cut decisions about offering admission to children on the
waiting list, and when switching from one food service provider to another to save money. She felt she needed more autonomy and hoped that clear
guidelines about how to make those kinds of decisions might make the board willing to trust her to make good choices.
Grace realized that she could contribute to the center’s ongoing and long-term success by creating an administrative manual. She knew it might
take as long as a year to accomplish this goal, but she was confident it would be worth the time and effort. She first reviewed the NAEYC Code of
Ethical Conduct and its Supplement for Program Administrators. Then she contacted the directors of other high-quality centers in her community to
ask if they would share their handbooks (which she realized they may not be willing to do) or, alternatively, meet with her and help her develop a
draft table of contents that would serve as an outline for her manual. She also networked with directors of leading programs similar to hers when
she attended her state’s early childhood conference. When she had a good draft of a proposed administrative manual, she took it to her governing
board for its approval. She was pleased when the board made some additions and then approved it promptly. It is now an indispensible tool that has
streamlined the decision-making process and has made her more consistent and efficient.
Using Established Policies and Procedures
Whether implementing existing or newly established policies and procedures, employees’ morale, the program’s reputation, and its overall success will
depend on each staff member’s commitment to knowing and complying with both the spirit and the letter of agreed-upon policies and procedures.
It is the program administrator’s responsibility, either alone or with the center’s corporate office or board of directors, to interpret and ensure consistent
compliance with these programmatic guidelines. That means not only that the director follows them without fail, but also that he holds each employee
and all participating families accountable for abiding by them consistently.
We recommend that staff be required to sign off on the staff manual and family handbook annually to signify that they know and are committed to
following the policies and procedures they describe and that families be asked to commit to knowing and following policies and procedure described in
the family handbook when they enroll and at the start of each year.
Categories of Policies and Procedures
Policies and procedures should cover as many aspects of the early care and education program’s operation as possible. There are, of course, wide
variations across programs, but most programs of early care and education have policies and procedures in the following categories:
1.
2.
3.
Program overview. Any discussion of policies and procedures should begin by providing an overview of the program, its core values,
vision, and mission.
Program services. These policies and procedures state the primary program services to be provided (e.g., care, education), along with other
services (e.g., food, transportation, social services, parent education) offered by the program.
Administration. Some specific areas included in administrative policies and procedures are the makeup of, and procedures for selecting or
electing, members to the board of directors, board committees (e.g., executive, personnel, finance, building, program, nominating), advisory
group, parent council, or other councils or committees; policies related to the appointment and functions of the director and supervisory
personnel; and the administrative operations, such as the organizational chart and membership and functions of various administrative
bodies.
4.
Personnel policies. All programs need to have the following documentation in place:
Job descriptions and qualifications
Recruitment, selection, and appointment procedures
Staff training and professional development requirements
Performance review timeline and procedures
Salary schedules and fringe benefits
Payroll schedule (e.g., the 15th and 30th of the month, every other Friday)
Policies related to excused and unexcused absences
Personal leave and vacation policies
Termination policies
5.
Personnel policies of publicly funded programs must include nondiscrimination and equal opportunity clauses and must be in compliance
with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Employees may also be covered by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 and the
Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. The websites of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the U.S.
Department of Justice, and ADA home pages listed at the end of this chapter include advice about how to avoid discriminatory practices and
highlight information related to these issues that should be included in staff manuals (e.g., causes of termination, procedures for termination,
appeal process for termination).
Services to children. These policies and procedures describe who is eligible for the program’s services. Sometimes eligibility is determined
by governmental or agency mandates; sometimes families must document financial need; and in other instances, programs may give priority
to particular populations, for example, the members of the sponsoring church or employees of a particular business. These policies should
also describe
Maximum group (class) size
Child–staff ratio for each age group
Enrollment options (e.g., full time, part time, drop-in)
Program services and provisions for child’s safety and welfare (e.g., accident procedures, insurance coverage)
Types of assessments used to document children’s progress and procedures for sharing assessment information with families
Situations that could result in the termination of program services
6.
Health and safety. This category of policies and procedures may cover
Physical exams required before employment or admission
Procedures for screening children’s health daily
Care or exclusion of ill children
Procedures for administering medications
Health services offered by the program (e.g., screening, immunizations)
Management of injuries and emergencies
Nutrition and food-handling guidelines
Provisions for rest or sleep
Staff training in health and safety (Which staff members have CPR and first aid training? Is there always a trained staff member
onsite?)
Plans to inspect classrooms and playgrounds for potential dangers on a regular basis.
7.
Rely on professional resources to develop your program’s policies and procedures addressing health and safety. One place to begin is Caring
for Our Children, an authoritative online resource with guidelines for protecting children’s health and well-being as well as specific
recommendations for both caregivers and families related to infants’ safe sleeping practices, obesity prevention, and children’s oral health
(AAP/APHA/NRCHSCC, 2011
(http://content.thuzelearning.com/books/Freeman.4250.18.1/sections/p700049957200000000000000000344b#P70004995720000000000000000035AB) ).
Another resource that explicitly addresses programs of early care and education, and is a good addition to any director’s book shelf, is
NAEYC’s Healthy Young Children (Aronson, 2012
(http://content.thuzelearning.com/books/Freeman.4250.18.1/sections/p700049957200000000000000000344b#P70004995720000000000000000035AD) ).
Financial management. These policies should describe the sources of funding (e.g., fees paid by families, grants, contracts) and guidelines
and procedures for purchasing goods and services. They should additionally describe how the program will create and manage the
contingency fund established to pay for significant unplanned expenses, such as a new roof or furnace, or how to pay employees in case the
program should have to close for a week, a month, or even longer because of illness, a natural or human-made disaster, or a facility problem.
Some topics addressed in policies related to the program’s finances include
The identification of person(s) responsible for the program’s financial management, including the creation and monitoring of the
budget
Requirements for keeping the program’s day-to-day financial records
Requirements for reporting the program’s financial status regularly
Audit requirements
8.
Record keeping. Policies and procedures should indicate
What kinds of records are kept on each employee and on each child
Where records are kept, including provisions for their security
Who, under what circumstances, has access to these records
They should identify procedures for ensuring compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) as it relates to
children’s and families’ rights to privacy in educational settings. Refer to the website listed at the end of this chapter for a description of
applicable provisions of FERPA.
9.
Families. These policies and procedures describe ways the program interacts with families and meets families’ needs. Particular issues to
address in this category of policies and procedures include
Description of the program’s philosophy
Procedures and policies related to enrolling and withdrawing children, including notice to be given when withdrawing a child
Days and hours of operation
The calendar for the coming year, including scheduled holidays
Description of the center’s open-door policy that welcomes parents without advanced notice and notes whether or not siblings are
welcome
Descriptions of how program personnel will communicate with families, including daily or weekly logs, newsletters, email, teacher
conferences as well as the center’s policy on the use of technology and social media
10.
Policies related to families should also include information about opportunities for them to be engaged in the program by serving on
advisory groups, accompanying children on field trips, and contributing as a classroom volunteer. And finally, it should include information
about the structure and purpose of the parent-teacher organization (PTO), including information about planned family events and fundraising.
Public relations and marketing. These policies and procedures guide outreach into the community, including community representation on
advisory committees or governing boards, relationships with allied agencies and associations, and the use of facilities by outside groups.
There will also be expectations about how the administrator creates a presence in the community and how the program creates its unique
identity. These policies may also indicate if the center advertises when enrollment applications are accepted or when registration opens to
the public.
4.2 WHAT TOPICS NEED TO BE ADDRESSED IN THE STAFF MANUAL?
Your program’s staff manual is the vehicle that communicates and formalizes many of the program’s policies and procedures. It serves as a reference and
roadmap for administrators and employees alike. The staff manual often overlaps with the family handbook, but it may address issues in more depth or
with a different emphasis. It also must align with state child care regulations as well as accreditation and/or QRIS requirements, if appropriate. In
addition to including a statement that all employees are required to know and adhere to applicable licensing regulations and to rely on the NAEYC Code
of Ethical Conduct, major topics that you may want to address and elaborate on in the staff manual include the following:
1.
Program Overview
States the program’s core values, and includes its vision and mission statements.
Includes the program’s address, phone and fax numbers, email address, website, and Federal Employer Identification Number
(FEIN) number.
2.
Program Services
Identifies ages served and days and hours of operation.
Identifies curriculum models (e.g., Creative Curriculum, HighScope) or approaches to early care and education (e.g., Program for
Infant/Toddler Care) teachers and caregivers are expected to implement.
Summarizes age-appropriate expectations, including the center’s guidance and discipline policies; suggestions for creating an
appropriate learning environment; and strategies for appropriately challenging, communicating with, and nurturing young children.
Identifies learning standards addressed at each age level (e.g., Infant/Toddler Guidelines, Early Learning Standards).
Describes required documentation of curriculum planning. Are teachers required to submit lesson plans in advance? If so, what
should they include? When are they due?
Describes how caregivers and teaches are expected to provide parents with information about their child’s growth, development,
and learning using agreed-upon assessment strategies at regularly scheduled parent conferences.
3.
Administration
Includes an organizational chart with a description of the makeup of advisory and/or governing boards.
Establishes a chain of authority and indicates who will be contacted for help in the case of an emergency if the director is not
available.
4.
Personnel Policies
Gives notice that the program adheres to applicable nondiscriminatory, equal opportunity, American with Disabilities, and Family
Leave laws.
Indicates, if applicable, that employment is “at will” and briefly describes this policy.
Includes job descriptions and qualifications for all positions.
Identifies all information and forms required for employment (i.e., background checks, physical exams, educational records,
references, Federal Employment Eligibility Verification [I-9], Internal Revenue Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate [W4] forms).
Summarizes required fringe benefits (e.g., workers’ compensation, Social Security) and other benefits (e.g., health insurance,
retirement) available to employees who wish to participate.
Describes indicators of possible abuse or neglect, puts teachers and caregivers on notice that they are mandated reporters of
suspected child abuse or neglect, and identifies where they can find additional information about their community’s child protective
services.
Describes staffing patterns (e.g., lead teacher, assistant teacher, floater) and how teaching teams are expected to share instructional,
caregiving, and housekeeping responsibilities.
Identifies daily work hours, break and lunch time scheduling, and how work hours are to be recorded.
Identifies the schedule and frequency of pay days (e.g., every other Friday, the 1st and 15th of each month).
Describes when the program will conduct an orientation for new employees and includes a general description of its content.
Describes the probationary period, if any, for new employees. Indicates its length and how it affects terms of employment (e.g.,
eligibility for benefits, earned leave).
Describes policies and procedures related to sick leave, personal leave, family leave (e.g., maternity, paternity, or family illness or
death), jury duty, time off for medical or dental appointments, and vacation. Identifies forms used to request leave or vacation,
where those forms can be found, and to whom they are to be submitted. Indicates how far in advance they should be submitted and
when employees will know if leave or vacation has been granted.
Identifies whom to call when sick and unable to work.
Describes when substitutes are used and how they are contacted and scheduled.
Identifies staff meetings employees are required to attend. Indicates how often required meetings are usually scheduled (e.g.,
monthly at lunch time) and indicates if employees are paid for this time.
Stipulates the number of hours of in-service training required annually. Is in-service training offered onsite? Are employees paid
during training? Are employees supported if they attend local, regional, or national conferences? Is support available for courses at
local colleges or universities? Does the program participate in the Education and Compensation Helps (T.E.A.C.H.®) scholarship
program offered by many states? (See the website listed at the end of this chapter for more information about the T.E.A.C.H.®
program.)
Describes procedures used to evaluate staff performance and either includes copies of observation and performance evaluation
forms or indicates where they can be found.
Describes policies related to raises and bonuses. Can employees expect annual cost-of-living raises? Are raises based on merit? Are
bonuses regularly awarded? Do raises and bonuses depend on the program’s financial status?
Describes disciplinary or corrective action procedures, including procedures for filing an appeal.
Describes where staff can locate supplies and how they can request needed supplies, materials, and equipment.
Describes the program’s policies related to the use of personal cell phones, the center’s phones, computers and office equipment,
and the Internet.
Describes the program’s policies related to the use of smartphones and social media. (Are teachers permitted to text family
members while they are caring for children? Are they permitted to “friend” the parents of the children they teach? Can they post
classroom pictures on Instagram?) See Figure 4.1
(http://content.thuzelearning.com/books/Freeman.4250.18.1/sections/p7000499572000000000000000000c67#P7000499572000000000000000000CC6)
.
Describes the dress code for all staff.
Identifies where staff are to park.
Describes how staff are notified if the program will be closed, will open late, or will close early because of severe weather.
Indicates that the center is a nonsmoking facility or identifies where smoking is permitted.
Indicates if employees are allowed to bring their preschool or school-age children with them to work and, if they are, under what
circumstances.
Describes resignation and termination procedures. Indicates if exit interviews are offered and, if so, with whom.
These guidelines for the appropriate use of technology described in Figure 4.1
(http://content.thuzelearning.com/books/Freeman.4250.18.1/sections/p7000499572000000000000000000c67#P7000499572000000000000000000CC6) can
ensure that smartphones and social media are used appropriately
Figure 4.1
The Appropriate Use of Technology
Sources: Texas Child Care Quarterly, 2013
(http://content.thuzelearning.com/books/Freeman.4250.18.1/sections/p700049957200000000000000000344b#P70004995720000000000000000035BF) ; UW
Madison Campus Children’s Centers Technology/Social Media Policy, 2013
(http://content.thuzelearning.com/books/Freeman.4250.18.1/sections/p700049957200000000000000000344b#P70004995720000000000000000035C1) .
5.
Services to Children
Describes admission criteria and identifies any populations (i.e., siblings of currently enrolled children, members of the sponsoring
church) who are eligible for preferential admissions.
Describes the services the program offers to children with identified special needs. Describes the supports available to teachers of
children with disabilities and the assistance available to them as they develop and implement Individual Family Service Plans
(IFSP) and Individual Educational Programs (IEP), if appropriate.
Includes the annual calendar indicating dates the program is closed and dates of required staff work days.
Identifies child–staff ratios for each age group served.
Identifies group size for each age group served.
Describes how transitions from one room to the next are planned (e.g., are they based on children’s age or on their developmental
level?) and implemented.
Stipulates that teachers and caregivers are responsible for supervising the children in their care at all times, both indoors and out,
awake and asleep.
Describes policies related to child guidance and discipline and summarizes recommended practices.
Describes the program’s assessment practices, identifies assessment instruments used (i.e., Ages and Stages Questionnaire, Work
Sampling System), and includes a general description of expected documentation of learning and development, such as the content
of children’s portfolios and anecdotal records.
Describes suggested strategies to help children adjust to the program.
Indicates expectations about lesson and unit plans. Are they to be turned in regularly? To whom? What are they to include?
Describes the program’s policies about classroom pets and animal visitors. Are they allowed or encouraged? Are they allowed to be
out of a cage? What hand-washing practices are required?
Describes expectations about outdoor play. Where are outdoor play areas? Is each classrooms assigned particular times for outdoor
play? Do children regularly visit nearby parks? How long are children expected to spend outdoors every day? How are teachers
expected to be involved during children’s outdoor play? What weather conditions keep children indoors?
Describes appropriate activities for days when children must remain indoors.
Describes the program’s policy about field trips. How are field trips approved, scheduled, and supervised? How are children
transported? Are there some specific trips generally planned for each age group each year?
Describes the program’s policies related to holiday and birthday celebrations, being sensitive that some families’ beliefs mean that
they prohibit their children from participating in any celebrations.
Describes any extra optional activities offered on-site on a fee-for-services basis.
Describes procedures to follow if a child has not been picked up at the end of the day.
Describes how staff and families are notified in the event of severe weather or other natural disaster or environmental risk (e.g.,
chemical spill).
6.
Health and Safety
Summarizes ordinary and universal precautions that reduce the likelihood that infectious and contagious diseases, including bloodborne pathogens, will be spread.
Describes hand-washing practices for children and adults.
Describes appropriate labeling and storage of children’s cribs and rest cots.
Details sanitizing and washing procedures for toys, cots and cribs, sheets, bibs, and so on. (Important note: The concentration of
household bleach sold in many stores has become stronger. Instead of being about 6% sodium hypochlorite, it is now 8.25%.
Consult Caring for Our Children (see the website at the end of this chapter) for guidance about how to dilute bleach for sanitizing
and disinfecting).
Describes procedures for storing and giving children prescription and over-the-counter medications.
Explains fire and emergency evacuation procedures, including where children would be taken if they could not return to their
classrooms and how families would be notified in case of an emergency.
Details sick child exclusion policies, identifying when children should not come to school and when they are ready to return.
Describes plans to provide children with first aid, including how minor injuries will be handled (What incident reports are to be
filed?) and how parents will be notified if emergency medical care, including transport by ambulance, is needed.
Describes procedures if a teacher becomes ill or is injured, how children’s safety will be ensured, and how supervision will be
assured.
Describes how children will be released at the end of the day. Indicates how families notify the program if someone other than the
usual parent or caregiver will take their child home, including what form of identification is required before a child will be released
to someone other than the usual parent or caregiver.
Sets expectations for toilet training and describes toileting routines. Indicates if children of particular ages are required to be potty
trained. Describes how the program supports potty training. Indicates if children are always accompanied to and supervised in the
bathroom and if bathroom time is part of the daily routine.
Indicates if the program provides breakfast, lunch, and/or snacks. Does the center follow U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
or other published dietary guidelines? If children bring food from home, does the program provide any guidelines about what
should or should not be brought to school? Is it a peanut-free program? May children and staff bring fast food (e.g., McDonald’s)?
Describes how to ensure that food allergies or other dietary restrictions are observed.
Describes mealtime routines. Are meals served family style? Are teachers and caregivers expected to eat with the children? Is
conversation encouraged?
Indicates teachers’ housekeeping responsibilities (Do they take out the trash, sweep their floors, and clean sinks and bathrooms at
the end of the day?).
Details by whom and how often the facility and playground are checked to note their condition and identify repairs that may be
needed.
Practices specific to infant and toddler rooms:
Details diaper changing practices designed to protect children’s health and safety.
Indicates that adults must remove their shoes upon entry in infant rooms.
Requires safe sleep practices to prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Infants up to 12 months of age should be
placed on their backs in a safety-approved crib for all naps. The crib’s mattress should be firm and covered with a tightfitting sheet. There should be no blankets or toys in the crib.
Indicates if families provide formula and baby food and where they are stored if provided by the center.
Indicates how bottles of formula or breast milk are heated (microwaves are NEVER used to heat breast milk or formula).
Describes how food and bottles brought from home are labeled and stored and when they must be discarded.
Describes provisions for nursing mothers who want to visit the classroom to nurse their babies and indicates if there is a
lactation room where mothers can express breast milk for later use.
Indicates if families provide diapers, wipes, creams, and ointments and where they are stored if provided by the center.
Describes how infants are fed (Are bottle-fed babies always held? Are older infants placed in high chairs or do they sit in
child-sized chairs?)
7.
Business and Financial Issues
Details established fees and tuition.
Describes how fees and tuition are collected and teachers’ responsibilities (if any) related to fee collection.
Indicates how payments are handled if enrichment activities are provided on a fee-for-services basis (e.g., dance, gymnastics, and
art).
8.
Records
Describes content of employees’ personnel files and identifies individuals who have access to these records.
Describes content of children’s files and identifies individuals who have access to these records.
Summarizes teachers’ and caregivers’ responsibilities to comply with the FERPA.
9.
Families
Describes how teachers and caregivers are expected to communicate with families (e.g., daily logs, communication notebooks,
regular emails, and monthly newsletters) and policies addressing the use of social media.
Indicates that the center has an open-door policy that welcomes parents without advanced notice and notes whether siblings are
welcome to visit.
Describes how teachers and caregivers are expected to communicate concerns about a child’s behavior.
Indicates how confidentiality of all children and families is maintained.
Indicates how families notify the center if an individual unknown to the center staff will be picking up their child at the end of the
day.
Describes frequency and content of parent–teacher conferences.
Indicates if the program offers parent education sessions. If so, when are they held? Who is eligible to participate?
Indicates if the program has a parent–teacher organization (PTO). Describes its purpose and major activities. Indicates how teachers
can become involved.
10.
Public Relations and Marketing
Employees should be reminded that they are the face and voice of the program in the community. Even when they are not working,
their behavior reflects on the center.
Some teachers may be willing to speak to early childhood classes or civic groups. They might reach out to other child care
programs or neighborhood religious communities in need of training or parent education classes. When it is seen as a community
resource, the program reflects well on itself and the field of early care and education.
Remember that employees are expected to know and consistently abide by all policies and procedures included in the employee manual as well as the
family handbook. Some topics, such as job descriptions, are most appropriately addressed in the employee manual; others, such as guidelines for
birthday celebrations, are described in the family handbook.
4.3 WHAT TOPICS NEED TO BE ADDRESSED IN THE FAMILY HANDBOOK?
The family manual should have a warm and friendly tone and be polished and professional. That means it is easy to read and understand, avoids
professional jargon, and includes no errors in spelling or grammar. Illustrations should be respectful of children and families (avoid “cute”) and should
reflect the cultural and ethnic diversity of the families you serve. In addition, you should make every effort to have the manual translated into the home
language of every family enrolled in your program. The handbook does not communicate with your children’s parents if they cannot read and understand
its contents. Families are expected to agree to follow the policies and procedures described in the handbook. We recommend that you ask them to sign
off to signify their commitment to do so every year.
Consider addressing the topics listed next as you prepare a family handbook. Some information, such as the program’s overview and description of
services, belongs in both the staff manual and the family handbook. Other information, such as specifics about when and how to pay fees or when
children should stay at home, is appropriately covered in more depth in the family handbook than in the staff manual. Additional topics, such as staff
qualifications, are addressed more briefly in the family handbook than in the staff manual. The emphasis you put on each topic in these program-specific
resources will reflect the audience you are addressing, the program’s purpose, and the population the program serves.
1.
Program Overview
States the program’s core values and includes the program’s mission and vision statements as well as its general approach to
instruction (e.g., is this a play-based program?).
Indicates the program’s licensure status and, if appropriate, the accreditation it has earned or its quality rating.
Affirms that the program is committed to the field’s core values, ideals, and principles as stated in the NAEYC Code of Ethical
Conduct.
2.
Program Services
Identifies ages served and days and hours of operation.
Gives notice that the program adheres to applicable nondiscriminatory, equal opportunity, and Americans with Disabilities laws.
Identifies curriculum models (e.g., Creative Curriculum, HighScope) or approaches to early care and education (e.g., Program for
Infant/Toddler Care) implemented by the program and briefly describes their essential characteristics.
Describes services provided and routines for before and/or after school for school-age children (e.g., pick up from school,
homework time, and activity options).
Indicates where parents are to park at drop-off and pickup times.
Describes policies related to termination of services, including notice families are expected to give if they plan to withdraw their
child from the center.
3.
Administration
Includes an organizational chart including a description and makeup of advisory and/or governing boards.
Lists current staff and their assignments.
4.
Services to Children
Describes admission requirements, including birthdate cutoffs, and identifies any populations (e.g., siblings of currently enrolled
children, members of the sponsoring church) who are eligible for preferential admissions.
Includes the annual calendar, indicating dates the program is closed and any dates the center does not operate on its regular
schedule (Are there half-day sessions to give teachers time for parent conferences or staff development?).
Indicates child–staff ratios and group size for each age group served.
Describes how transitions from one room to the next are planned (Are they based on children’s age or on their developmental
level?) and how they are implemented.
Describes the amount of interaction between children of different ages, particularly if the program serves school-age children.
Describes how children should dress (e.g., play clothes that may get dirty or wet, shoes that are safe for running and climbing) and
reminds families that children will play outdoors in all but extreme weather.
Indicates the program’s ability and willingness to meet the needs of children with identified special needs and any requirements
(e.g., an extra employee in the classroom under certain circumstances) that may apply.
Describes the program’s policies related to child guidance and discipline.
Describes morning drop-off and afternoon pickup routines, including advice on helping children transition into the program and
adjust to its day-to-day routines.
Describes the program’s policy about classroom pets and animal visitors.
Describes expectations about outdoor play. Where are outdoor play areas? Do children regularly visit nearby parks? Reminds
families that children are to dress to play outside every day except during extreme weather, and describes weather conditions that
are considered to be “extreme” and would keep children indoors.
Describes the program’s policy about field trips, including a description of how families will be notified of an upcoming trip, what
kind of permission form will be required for children to participate, how children will be transported and, if appropriate, invites
families to help with supervision.
Describes the program’s policies related to holiday and birthday celebrations.
Lists supplies children are expected to bring from home (e.g., rest mat, toothbrush, blanket for nap time, and change of clothes).
Describes any optional activities offered on a fee-for-services basis and the related responsibilities of regular center staff.
Describes how families are notified if the program will be closed, will open late, or will close early because of severe weather.
5.
Health and Safety
Identifies required immunizations and health exams required for enrollment.
Describes hand-washing practices followed by children and adults, including parents entering the classroom.
Describes plans to provide children with first aid, including how minor injuries will be handled and how parents will be notified if
emergency medical care, including transport by ambulance, is needed.
Describes procedures for giving children prescription and over-the-counter medications. Indicates where the required form can be
found.
Explains emergency evacuation procedures, including where children would be taken if they could not return to their classrooms
and how families would be notified in case of an emergency.
Sets expectations for toilet training and describes toileting routines. Indicates if children of particular ages are required to be potty
trained. Describes how the program supports potty training. Indicates if children are always accompanied to and supervised while in
the bathroom and if bathroom time is part of the daily routine.
Details sick child exclusion policies, identifying when children should not come to school and when they will be permitted to
return. See Figure 4.2
(http://content.thuzelearning.com/books/Freeman.4250.18.1/sections/p7000499572000000000000000000d82#P7000499572000000000000000000DEF)
for an example of how your family handbook might describe when a child should stay home from school.
Requests that children bring a complete change of clothes (including socks) to be left at the center.
Describes how children will be released at the end of the day. Indicates how families notify the program if someone other than the
usual parent or caregiver will take their child home, including what form of identification is required before a child will be released
to someone other than the usual parent or caregiver.
Describes the procedure if a child has not been picked up within an hour of the center’s closing.
Indicates if the program provides breakfast, lunch, and snacks and if it follows USDA or other published dietary guidelines.
Provides guidelines about what should or should not be brought to school if children bring food from home (e.g., Is it a peanut-free
program? Will food from home be refrigerated? Can it be heated? May children bring food from a fast food restaurant, such as
McDonald’s?).
Details what steps are taken to be certain food allergies and other dietary restrictions are respected (e.g., those based on religious
practices or preferences for only organic foods).
Describes mealtime routines. Are meals served family style? Do teachers and caregivers eat with the children? Is conversation
encouraged?
Figure 4.2
Sample Family Handbook Exclusion Policy
6.
Business and Financial Issues
Details established fees and tuition for each age group, including registration fees, materials fees, late fees, and returned check
policy.
Describes when fees and tuition are due and how they are collected (e.g., Are credit or debit cards accepted? Are checks mailed or
dropped into a box on the director’s desk?).
Describes when late fees and returned check fees are assessed and how they are to be handled.
Describes the fee for being 10, 20, or 30 minutes late to pick up the child at the end of the day.
7.
Records
Identifies birth, immunization, physical examination, residency, or other documentation required for admission.
Identifies materials families must submit before their child can participate in the program, such as emergency contact information,
acknowledgement of having received the family handbook, and so on.
8.
Families
Puts families on notice that teachers and caregivers are mandated by law to report suspected child abuse or neglect to the local child
protective service agency.
Informs families that corporal punishment will never be permitted in the center.
Identifies how families can expect teachers and caregivers to communicate with them (e.g., daily logs, communication notebooks,
regular emails, monthly newsletters).
Indicates that the center has an open-door policy that welcomes parents to visit without advanced notice. Indicates whether siblings
are welcome to visit.
Describes how teachers and caregivers are expected to communicate concerns about a child’s behavior.
Describes the program’s policies related to social media. (Is it appropriate for families to “friend” their child’s teacher? Can they
post classroom pictures on Instagram?) (Refer to Figure 4.1
(http://content.thuzelearning.com/books/Freeman.4250.18.1/sections/p7000499572000000000000000000c67#P7000499572000000000000000000CC6)
.)
Assures parents that their written permission will be required before any image of their children are shared either online or in print.
Indicates how confidentiality of all children and families is maintained.
Describes frequency and content of parent–teacher conferences.
Indicates if the program offers parenting classes. If so, when are they held? Who is eligible to participate?
Indicates if the program has a parent-teacher organization. Describes its purpose and major activities. Indicates how families can
become involved.
See Figure 4.3
(http://content.thuzelearning.com/books/Freeman.4250.18.1/sections/p7000499572000000000000000000d82#P7000499572000000000000000000E78) for an
9.
example of a Family Checklist to communicate beginning-of-school routines in a straightforward and easy-to-follow format.
Public Relations and Marketing
Indicates that the director and selected teachers may be willing to speak to civic groups or may be available to work with other child
care programs or neighborhood religious communities in need of training or parent education classes. When seen as a community
resource, the program reflects well on itself and the field of early care and education.
Application Activity
Develop a policy (a rule about a critical issue) and procedures (step-by-step instructions for following that policy) for a staff manual or family
handbook. Make sure that the policy or procedures you develop address a complex topic likely to require the director to make a difficult
decision. Topics to consider are responding to a family’s request for a particular teacher or classroom, working with a teacher who is going
through a difficult divorce and whose attendance has not met the program’s expectations, or a family that has been regularly bringing a child to
the center during his class’s nap time.
Figure 4.3
This Family Checklist can help ensure a smooth start to a new school year.
4.4 WHAT INFORMATION SHOULD BE IN THE ADMINISTRATOR’S MANUAL?
This material will, in all likelihood, be available only to the director and her supervisor(s), which may be an advisory or governing board or the
corporation’s regional and/or national coordinator.
The issues addressed in an administrator’s manual are likely to be more idiosyncratic than those addressed in either the family handbook or the staff
manual. Examples of items that may be addressed in the administrative manual include the following:
Details related to salary scales, raises, and bonuses (if applicable).
Details of interview and hiring procedures. How are references checked? Is time in the classroom part of the interview process? Are
potential employees approved by the board or its representatives?
Details of termination procedures.
Conditions for the availability of discounts for employees’ children to attend your program. Is this benefit available to all employees? Is it a
discretionary benefit that may be offered to employees with specific credentials?
Describes how the yearly calendar is developed. Does the director consult with local schools? Professional organizations whose conferences
the staff attends?
The director’s responsibilities related to the recruitment of both staff and families.
The director’s responsibilities to lead or arrange for on-site professional development that will help staff meet annual training requirements.
The director’s responsibilities for establishing an appropriate online presence for the center, including the appropriate use of social media to
enhance the center’s reputation.
The director’s responsibilities related to developing and monitoring the budget and planning for the center’s long-term financial health.
The timelines related to licensure and accreditation. When is the program up for renewal? What reports must be submitted to licensure and
accrediting bodies?
If you become a program director, you will want to find out about existing guidelines you will be expected to follow. During your tenure, you will want
to continue to develop this resource. It will make your life, and that of your successor, much easier if all this information can be found in a central,
organized location.
SUMMARY
A program’s staff and administrative manuals and its family handbook can be seen as vehicles describing how the program follows its policies and
procedures. These in-house publications should be grounded in the NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct as well as the program’s specific core values,
vision and mission while providing specific guidelines for how it will abide by applicable laws and regulations. They are invaluable tools for ensuring
programs’ success, and for that reason their development deserves careful thought and hard work.
Discuss the contributions that well-developed policies and procedures can make to your program.
Thoughtfully and carefully created policies and procedures guide families staff, and the program’s administration and contribute to the
program’s smooth and consistent operation by creating shared understandings. They should be developed by relying on the program’s core
values, vision and mission statements; federal, state, and local laws; child care regulations; as well as voluntary accreditation and/or QRIS
guidelines if applicable. The program’s administrator is usually responsible for taking the lead in their development. In some cases, they may
be developed by a board of directors and/or an advisory committee. In large chains and franchises, Head Start, and public school programs,
policies are developed in accordance with the organization’s established lines of authority.
Develop an outline for a staff manual, listing the major headings it should include.
The staff manual should begin with a statement that all employees are required to abide by the NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct. Major topics
it should address are:
Program overview
Program services
Administration
Personnel policies
Services to children
Health and safety, including specific practices for caring for infants and toddlers
Business and financial issues
Records
Families
Public relations and marketing
Describe some ways the family handbook is different from the staff manual.
The family manual should be warm and friendly, polished, and professional. It must be accurate, be easy to understand, and should avoid
professional jargon. Illustrations should respectfully reflect the cultural and ethnic diversity of children and families you serve. In addition, it
should, if possible, be translated into the home language of every family.
The family handbook addresses the same topics included in the staff manual, but the emphasis of some topics is different. For example,
specifics about how to pay fees is in more detail in the family handbook, but information about staff qualifications will probably be more
detailed in the staff manual.
Identify the types of issues that should be addressed in an administrative manual.
The administrative manual includes confidential information about salary scales as well as interviewing, hiring, and termination procedures. It
also describes the director’s responsibilities related to providing staff training and financial management as well as licensure and accreditation
deadlines.
USEFUL WEBSITES
Federal Laws and Regulations
Employment Law Guide
This government resource sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor provides an overview of employment laws, regulations, and available technical
services that can help your program be in full compliance.
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
The U.S. Department of Education website provides a comprehensive description of mandated practices and can help your program stay in full
compliance.
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
This government website provides information to help ensure that your program’s practices are in full compliance with equal opportunity requirements
and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
This U.S. Department of Labor website includes information about all aspects of the FMLA and includes materials related to FMLW in a wide variety of
languages, including Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Thai, and Vietnamese.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
This U.S. Department of Justice website provides a complete description of the practices required by ADA and includes regular updates to help programs
remain in compliance.
Commonly Asked Questions About Child Care Centers and the Americans with Disabilities Act
This U.S. Department of Justice resource interprets the ADA specifically for programs of early care and education.
Materials to Guide the Development and Implementation of Policies and Procedures
Caring for Our Children
This up-to-date and comprehensive resource, created in collaboration with the American Academy of Pediatrics, is downloadable. It addresses a wide
variety of topics and provides valuable specifics. It also updates its recommendations to reflect current issues and concerns.
Is America Prepared to Protect Our Most Vulnerable Children in Emergencies?
This downloadable report provides guidance to help programs of early care to prepare for emergencies promptly and safely.
T.E.A.C.H.® Early Childhood Project
This resource describes the T.E.A.C.H.® project that supports early childhood teachers’ professional development and includes contacts for participating
states.
South Carolina ABC Child Care Program Sample Documents
This website links to sample documents, from hand-washing policies to what should be covered in new employees’ orientation. Using them could
streamline many aspects of your program’s operations.
TO REFLECT
1. What might be some consequences if a director did not consistently apply policies and procedures described in the family handbook or staff
manual? How would the program’s operations be affected? What effect would this behavior have on morale? Who would be responsible for
bringing these issues to her attention?
2. We recommend that you ask a few trusted families to review your program’s family handbook as it is being developed and finalized. What are
the benefits and the risks of asking for feedback before the document has been finalized?
CHAPTER
3
Understanding Regulations, Accreditation Criteria, and Other
Standards of Practice
NAEYC Administrator Competencies Addressed in This Chapter:
Management Knowledge and Skills
2. Legal and Fiscal Management
Knowledge and application of the advantages and disadvantages of different legal structures
Knowledge of different codes and regulations as they relate to the delivery of early childhood program services
Knowledge of child custody, child abuse, special education, confidentiality, anti-discrimination, insurance liability, contract, and labor laws
pertaining to program management
5. Program Operations and Facilities Management
Knowledge and application of policies and procedures that meet state/local regulations and professional standards pertaining to the health and
safety of young children
7. Marketing and public relations
Skill in developing a business plan and effective promotional literature, handbooks, newsletters, and press releases
Early Childhood Knowledge and Skills
5. Children with Special Needs
Knowledge of licensing standards, state and federal laws (e.g., ADA, IDEA) as they relate to services and accommodations for children with
special needs
10. Professionalism
Knowledge of laws, regulations, and policies that impact professional conduct with children and families
Knowledge of center accreditation criteria
Learning Outcomes
After studying this chapter, you will be able to:
1.
Describe the purpose of regulations that apply to programs of early care and education and list several topics they address.
2.
Identify several ways accreditation standards are different from child care regulations.
3.
State the purpose of Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS).
4.
List some ways qualifications for administrators and teachers are different for licensure, for accreditation, and in QRIS systems.
5.
Identify laws that apply to the childcare workplace, such as those that govern the program’s financial management and employees’ wellbeing.
Marie’s Experience
Marie has been successful over the years in keeping her center in compliance with all licensing regulations. She is proud of her teachers and confident
that the center consistently goes above and beyond licensing provisions designed simply to keep children healthy and safe. She knows that the center
provides high-quality care to the children it serves, but has never pursued accreditation or participated in her state’s optional Quality Rating and
Improvement System (QRIS) because of the time and effort it would require. Her families have confidence in her program and do not seem to need this
additional assurance that it provides high-quality services day in and day out.
Large numbers of families rely on out-of-home care for their infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age children during the workday. In 2011, there
were 312,254 licensed child care facilities with a capacity to serve almost 10.2 million children. About 34% of these facilities were child care centers.
They served more than 77% of the children cared for in out-of-home settings (National Center on Child Care Quality Improvement, 2013
(http://content.thuzelearning.com/books/Freeman.4250.18.1/sections/p700049957200000000000000000344b#P700049957200000000000000000358B) ).
Regulations and standards guide all aspects of the life of an early childhood care and education program—its children and their families, its staff,
director, and board. They are designed to give families that rely on child care peace of mind that the health and welfare of their children are safeguarded
while they are away from home. Although regulations and standards may be defined in various ways, we use the following child-care-related definitions
in this book:
1.
2.
Regulations are official binding rules. Regulations that apply to programs of early care and education are wide-ranging and include zoning,
land use, and building codes; federal tax and employment laws; laws that protect children from abuse and neglect; and child care
regulations. They describe minimal levels of performance that no program is expected to fall below.
Quality Standards set higher-than-minimal benchmarks of performance by measuring how successfully programs meet criteria
demonstrated to ensure positive outcomes for children.
Regulations and quality standards are closely linked. Together they address a program’s facility, programming, staffing, and other aspects of its
operation. Child care programs must comply, for example, with licensing regulations related to child—staff ratios, that is, the number of children one
adult may legally be responsible for; as well as with federal laws designed to protect employees’ rights.
While state child care regulations set a minimum accepted standard of care, accreditation and QRIS standards identify criteria that have been shown to
improve the quality of children’s experiences. For example, your state’s regulations might allow one caregiver to care for up to five infants, but you will
meet the NAEYC Accreditation Standards if one caregiver is responsible for no more than four infants at a time (NAEYC, 2014b
(http://content.thuzelearning.com/books/Freeman.4250.18.1/sections/p700049957200000000000000000344b#P700049957200000000000000000357F) ). Regulations and
quality standards play an important role when you are planning for a new program or refining policies and procedures that guide an existing program’s
day-to-day implementation.
3.1 CONSIDERING REGULATIONS
Some of the regulations that apply to a particular program depend on the auspices under which it operates. Is it a nonprofit organization that is part of a
public elementary school or operated by a faith-based organization? Is the center a federally funded Head Start or an employee-sponsored on-site
program? Is it part of a for-profit chain or operated by an individual entrepreneur? Is it located in an urban, suburban, or rural setting? The next section
identifies some of the kinds of regulations you must be aware of and, when applicable, abide by when you are a center director.
Regulations to Address When Establishing a New Program
The process of creating a new child care program must begin with careful review of licensing requirements related to the facility’s design and layout;
local zoning and land use laws; and building codes that apply to structures built for this purpose. You will greatly increase your chances for success
when you have become informed about these laws that lay the foundation for your program’s successful launch.
Licensing Regulations:
The first decisions licensing regulations will help you make about your new child care center is what age groups and how many children of each age
group you plan to serve. Those decisions will determine how many square feet you must provide for each group indoors and out. Some other issues
related to the building’s design that regulations address include the number of toilets and sinks required for the number of children you will serve,
appropriate accommodations for infants’ napping rooms, and spaces you will provide for adults. Licensing regulations will also help if you are
preparing to welcome children into your home as a family child care provider. They will identify modifications you may need to make, such as
installing gates at the stairs or adding an additional sink in the diaper changing area.
When you review child care licensing regulations carefully, you will see a number of sections that help you plan your facility. We will provide a more
in-depth discussion of child care licensing regulations and discuss those that apply to program development and implementation in more detail below.
Zoning and Land Use Regulations:
Zoning regulations define how land may be used. States’ zoning laws allow each city and town to divide its land into districts. Within those districts, the
municipality can enact zoning codes that regulate land use and can include specifications related to buildings’ structure and their use. Generally, zoning
regulations become more stringent as population density increases; that is, more rules about land use are likely in the center city than in the suburbs, and
suburbs are likely to have more regulations than do rural areas.
Interestingly, child care is frequently treated as a “problem use.” That means child care centers, and sometime family child care homes, are prohibited
from residential neighborhoods because of concerns about the noise and traffic they are likely to generate. They are also often not permitted in
commercial areas because business districts are not considered good places for children. Some states are working to prevent localities from enacting
restrictive policies related to the construction and operation of child care facilities.
When you are familiar with your community’s applicable zoning and land use regulations, you will be prepared to select an appropriate site for your
program, one that will not likely require a prolonged process of hearings before gaining approval.
Building Codes and Requirements Related to Fire Safety and Sanitation:
Building codes and regulations related to fire safety and sanitation, including those that address the structure’s wiring, plumbing, and the materials used
for construction, are typically included among communities’ laws addressing public health and safety. They may be covered under municipal
ordinances or state regulations that are enforced by local officials.
Fire regulations that apply to child care centers describe allowable types of building construction and set standards related to alarm systems and fire
extinguishers. They specify how combustible materials are to be stored and require that building evacuation plans be posted. The Life Safety Code
handbook is available at no cost at the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) website. It provides guidelines on fire protection and containment
for child care centers, group homes, and family child care.
Sanitation codes are mainly concerned with diaper changing and bathroom facilities as well as food service operations. Sanitation standards specify, for
example, where sinks are to be located (i.e., in the same area as the toilet and in the central diapering area). Regulations addressing these issues are
often part of licensing standards but are established and are often enforced by state departments of social services or local health departments.
Applying for an Initial Child Care Center License:
Once a new construction project has addressed all of the issues identified earlier, it will be time to apply for a certificate of occupancy (COO). This is a
statement issued by the appropriate local governmental agency indicating a new building is suitable for use. A new center must have a COO before
requesting the required inspections that are the first steps toward opening a new center. Administrators of new programs are likely to begin recruiting
children and provisionally hiring staff as they prepare to apply for initial licensure and permission to legally operate as a child care program. Review
Figure 3.1 (http://content.thuzelearning.com/books/Freeman.4250.18.1/sections/p70004995720000000000000000008f0#P7000499572000000000000000000908) for a
summary of this process.
Figure 3.1
Overview of the Process of Opening a Licensed Child Care summarizes the steps required to plan the construction and launch of a new
program of early care and education.
Licensing Regulations That Guide Program Development and Implementation
Licensing is the procedure by which a person, association, or corporation obtains from the appropriate state agency a permit to legally operate or
continue operating a child care facility. Sometimes the state’s process of granting a center permission to operate is called certification, permission,
approval, or registration.1
(http://content.thuzelearning.com/books/Freeman.4250.18.1/sections/p7000499572000000000000000000ae3#P7000499572000000000000000000B21) The District of
Columbia, the Department of Defense, and 49 states (all except Idaho) license child care facilities (AAP/APHA/NRCHSCC, 2011
(http://content.thuzelearning.com/books/Freeman.4250.18.1/sections/p700049957200000000000000000344b#P7000499572000000000000000003554) ; National Center
on Child Care Quality Improvement, 2013
(http://content.thuzelearning.com/books/Freeman.4250.18.1/sections/p700049957200000000000000000344b#P700049957200000000000000000358B) ). The licensing
agency (typically the state’s department of human services, social services, or health) enforces the baseline requirements established by its state
legislature and makes the decision to issue or deny license applications.
Child care licenses, sometimes called permits, certificates, registrations, or approvals, are valid for varied periods of time.2
(http://content.thuzelearning.com/books/Freeman.4250.18.1/sections/p7000499572000000000000000000ae3#P7000499572000000000000000000B23) Nine states offer
non-expiring licenses; in 32 states, a license is good for 1 or 2 years; and licenses are good for varied periods of time in the remaining nine states
(NARA, 2013 (http://content.thuzelearning.com/books/Freeman.4250.18.1/sections/p700049957200000000000000000344b#P7000499572000000000000000003585) ).
Caring for Our Children: National Health and Safety Performance Standards: Guidelines for Out-of-Home Child Care, 3rd edition
(AAP/APHA/NRCHSCC, 2011
(http://content.thuzelearning.com/books/Freeman.4250.18.1/sections/p700049957200000000000000000344b#P7000499572000000000000000003554) ), developed as a
collaborative effort of several organizations devoted to children’s health and well-being, is a comprehensive discussion of recommended standards for
child care, including the rationale for suggested provisions, references, and comprehensive appendices. The Caring for Our Children’s interactive
website listed at the end of this chapter is updated regularly. It includes responses to frequently asked questions (FAQs) and highlights
recommendations that have been updated or refined. Its authors, for example, identified steps that programs of early care and education should take to
ensure that infants’ sleeping arrangements are safe, strategies to prevent childhood obesity, and practices that help to ensure young children’s oral health
when new research indicated changes to common practices were needed.
Child Care Center Regulations:
Child care regulations differ widely from state to state.3
(http://content.thuzelearning.com/books/Freeman.4250.18.1/sections/p7000499572000000000000000000ae3#P7000499572000000000000000000B25) It is important to
remember that they are intended to establish minimum standards of care designed to keep all children safe, rather than to ensure the provision of
exemplary services. They must balance the state’s responsibility to protect children while they are cared for in out-of-home settings with the pressures
of the marketplace, that is, the ability of providers to meet these established minimum standards. Child Care Aware® of America (previously known as
the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies [NACCRRA]) regularly compares the child care center regulations of all states
and the Department of Defense (DOD), which regulates child care programs serving military personnel. The report released in 2013 follows up on the
findings reported in 2007, 2009, and 2011. It identifies 11 benchmarks that consider the adequacy of regulations related to safety, health, and early
learning and 4 benchmarks addressing the adequacy of regulatory oversight and enforcement. This report indicates that the adequacy of regulations
ranges from 130 (on a 150-point scale) for the DOD to 23 for Idaho, which lacks state-level child care regulations. The report’s authors note that the
average score was 92, which represents 61% out of the possible 150 points. They point out that in most classrooms, a score of 61% would earn a student
a D. While noting that many states have made progress since the 2007 report, the fact remains that child care licensing regulations still do not ensure
that all children are in safe, high-quality settings. The authors recommend that the U.S. Congress raise the standards for programs eligible to receive
federal Child Care Block Grant subsidies, a strategy they believe would motivate states to revise regulations to mandate higher levels of quality (Child
Care Aware® of America, 2013
(http://content.thuzelearning.com/books/Freeman.4250.18.1/sections/p700049957200000000000000000344b#P700049957200000000000000000355A) ).
All states’ regulations are now online. To review regulations of your state, or neighboring states, follow the links from the website of the National
Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education.
Most licensing codes include sections addressing these issues (AAP/APHA/NRCHSCC, 2011
(http://content.thuzelearning.com/books/Freeman.4250.18.1/sections/p700049957200000000000000000344b#P7000499572000000000000000003554) ; NARA, 2013
(http://content.thuzelearning.com/books/Freeman.4250.18.1/sections/p700049957200000000000000000344b#P7000499572000000000000000003585) ; Child Care
Aware® of America, 2013
(http://content.thuzelearning.com/books/Freeman.4250.18.1/sections/p700049957200000000000000000344b#P700049957200000000000000000355A) ):
1.
2.
3.
4.
Introduction. The introductory section of licensing regulations defines terms such as child care center and director; identifies the programs
that must be licensed and, when appropriate, those that are exempt; describes how applicants obtain and submit an application for a license;
identifies required inspections and approvals; indicates the duration of the license and describes the renewal process; identifies situations
that would result in license denial, revocation, or nonrenewal; stipulates how the license is to be posted on the premises; and provides other
state-specific general information.
Organization and administration. State licensing laws require an applicant to identify the program’s purposes and its sponsoring
organization, to indicate whether the program is for-profit or not-for-profit, and to describe its administrative structure (e.g., director, board
of directors). They often require programs to have policies describing the services they provide children (e.g., eligibility and admission
criteria, termination policies, nondiscrimination provisions, and fees) and may also require plans to ensure the center’s financial solvency.
Staffing. This section of the regulations describes mandated background checks, which typically include checks of both sex offender and
child abuse registries as well as both federal and state fingerprint records; required child—staff ratios; educational and prior service
prerequisites for directors, teachers, and aides; the minimum age requirements for center employees; and requirements for on-the-job
training. Regulations might, for example, permit a 16-year-old with a high school diploma or GED (certificate given for completing tests of
General Educational Development considered to be equivalent to a high school diploma) to serve as a director in one state, but might
require the director to be at least 21 and hold a bachelor’s degree in another. Likewise, there are states in which an employee enrolled in
high school or a GED program is qualified to be a lead teacher, and in other states lead teachers must hold, at a minimum, a Child
Development Associate (CDA) credential (NARA, 2013
(http://content.thuzelearning.com/books/Freeman.4250.18.1/sections/p700049957200000000000000000344b#P7000499572000000000000000003585) ).
Staff qualifications are, in fact, one of the most important characteristics that determine program quality and have a significant impact on
child outcomes (Early et al., 2006
(http://content.thuzelearning.com/books/Freeman.4250.18.1/sections/p700049957200000000000000000344b#P7000499572000000000000000003563) ;
Kontos, Howes, & Galinsky, 1997
(http://content.thuzelearning.com/books/Freeman.4250.18.1/sections/p700049957200000000000000000344b#P7000499572000000000000000003571) ;
Mims, Scott-Little, Lower, Cassidy, & Hestenes, 2008
(http://content.thuzelearning.com/books/Freeman.4250.18.1/sections/p700049957200000000000000000344b#P7000499572000000000000000003577) ;
Snider & Fu, 1990
(http://content.thuzelearning.com/books/Freeman.4250.18.1/sections/p700049957200000000000000000344b#P7000499572000000000000000003599) ; Vu,
Jeon, & Howes, 2008
(http://content.thuzelearning.com/books/Freeman.4250.18.1/sections/p700049957200000000000000000344b#P70004995720000000000000000035A2) ).
They are of particular importance to directors who are responsible for deciding who to hire, and sometimes who to terminate from
employment. For that reason, they will be addressed in greater detail later in this chapter.
Facilities, equipment, and transportation. Licensing codes typically require applicants to satisfy he…
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