Happy Steps Preschool Parent Handbook
Updated November 29, 2023
Copyright 2022 - Current
Payments are due for the month, by the 3rd of that month, or a $50 late fee will be charged each day the payment is late, due immediately. The monthly tuition at Happy Steps Preschool is due in full whether your child attends the entire time or not. We typically don’t pack multiple children into one spot, ensuring consistency for the children, so reliable tuition is needed.
For parents enrolling after the 3rd of a month, the tuition amount will be prorated for that first month, and is due the day your child begins. Deposits to hold a spot are $550, to be taken out of the first month’s tuition, and are non-refundable. The deposit gives Happy Steps time to find someone new if your family chooses a different school, or has other changes that come up.
Lindsay provides a receipt each time a payment is made. Lindsay also provides tax documentation in January, for the previous year. It includes all of her information that you’ll need, a list of your monthly payments, and the total amount you paid that year.
If parents arrive earlier than the opening time or later than the closing time, a $1 per minute fee will be charged and must be paid in full before the child returns. We reserve the right to open at our set time, even if families have arrived earlier. If you arrive early, please wait outside. We will begin calling emergency contacts at our closing time, if parents haven’t arrived and can’t be reached. Please be on time: too many late pick-ups may jeopardize your child’s enrollment here. Our teachers have their own busy lives, after work. Thank you!
All closed days are included in your child’s monthly tuition and are non-refundable.
We are closed on all federal/observed holidays:
New Year's Day
MLK Jr Day
Indigenous Peoples’ Day
Thanksgiving & Black Friday
We are closed for Winter Break from December 22nd – January 1st.
We are closed for Spring Break the last Thurs & Fri of March.
We are closed for Summer Break from July 1st – 12th. (That’s about 1.5 weeks out of a 4.5 week long month.)
This time off allows our staff members extra time (instead of using personal time) to do deep cleaning of the facility, update paperwork, maintain our annual training hour requirements, and attend to life and family needs, etc. This allows our program to keep running in a high-quality way for everyone and helps us avoid the too common teacher burn-out of other centers!
OUR HEALTH POLICIES
Parents must submit complete immunization records (OR exemption records) before children may begin care. Following state requirements, children who have exemption records, instead, will not be allowed in care when anyone on the premises is found to have a communicable disease that immunizations would otherwise prevent (i.e., measles, chicken pox, covid-19, etc.). Parents will be notified if this ever happens, and again when their children may return.
Parents are also notified when their child may have been exposed to a contagious illness here, such as bronchitis, the stomach flu, influenza, pink eye, etc. A record of our more recent illness is listed on the front door for parents to see any time.
*As soon as you know that you or your child (or someone in the home/family) is sick with a communicable illness (like the flu, pink eye, lice, bronchitis, etc.), PLEASE let Lindsay know ASAP so other families can be informed on what is going around. We don’t name the family.
Sick children and Happy Steps staff are required by the state to stay home until 24 hours AFTER a contagious illness has subsided; the exception to this rule being the common cold and mild cough.
Giving children Tylenol to hide their fever is frowned upon, as they are still contagious in those circumstances, and would jeopardize their spot here.
If family members are experiencing a highly contagious illness or pest in your home, such as the stomach flu or lice, please consider keeping your child home or with family for a few days to make sure they won’t bring it here. It isn’t just the other children here that can be negatively affected by these things, it’s also our staff members, their own children, and the older grandparents (with potentially compromised immune systems), and all the family members of the children enrolled here. Thank you so much!
We follow the requirements of the Oregon Health Authority: Children and staff must stay home (or, if children get sick here, rest in a secluded-from-other-children chair/cot until a parent or emergency contact comes to pick them up) if they:
Medications must have your child's name on them, be in the original bottle only, and parents must sign a medication permission form for them on which staff keeps track of how much and how often the medication was given.
If Lindsay becomes too sick to work, another employee will cover in her place, and parents will be notified. If a sub is unavailable, and Lindsay must close for the day, or partial day, parents will be reimbursed for the time closed, out of the next month’s tuition (or sooner, at Lindsay’s discretion).
INJURIES & LIABILITIES
While the staff members here are devoted to the safety and well-being of all children, young children can naturally fall, collide, and go bump often. Happy Steps Preschool, and all staff members, will not be held liable for any bodily injuries or damaged possessions. Upon enrolling at Happy Steps, the parents agree to waive holding Happy Steps liable for any injuries or loss of possessions.
If an ambulance had to be called for a child, the child would be taken to Riverbend Hospital, and parents and/or emergency contacts would be notified immediately.
An injury report will be written, shown to the parents for signing, signed and dated by both the present staff member and Lindsay Swanberg, and kept on file in your child’s record. Parents are always welcome to ask questions about their child’s day here, see their child's paperwork on file, or request a copy of the paperwork.
ASSISTANT TEACHERS & SUBSTITUTE TEACHERS
All staff members working with children will first have their criminal history background check done, will be current on their CPR and 1st Aid certifications (and all the other required trainings of the Oregon Division of Child Care), will train with us under supervision, to thoroughly understand our program and philosophy of care before working alone with the children, and will spend plenty of quality time with the children under supervision before being left alone with them. Lindsay is open to feedback and concerns from parents, and is happy to talk in private with families, if anything ever comes up.
We attend additional child development/education classes every year!
*Parents will be notified if a substitute has to fill in for Lindsay.
RESPONSIBILITIES OF PARENTS
Happy Steps is a secular preschool child care program. We respect the importance of families teaching their children of their own religious choosing, so we refrain from any religious teachings here. We ask all families to honor this policy when visiting our school.
We celebrate holidays like Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, and are happy to learn about other holidays to incorporate here! We aim to have a culturally inclusive environment.
While we do not deny parents from having access to their children (unless there is a custody order or restraining order stating sole custody), we are required and prepared to prevent anyone who may have a detrimental effect on children from being on the premises. Parents/family members/others who have exhibited threatening, disrespectful, and/or problematic behaviors here will not be allowed inside. We reserve the right to call the police, if deemed necessary. Parents/guardians of the child will be informed if this happens.
(Problematic/dangerous behaviors from people associated with the child’s family could jeopardize your child’s enrollment in our program. We prioritize keeping this a safe and positive environment for everyone here.)
People who haven’t been approved by the Criminal Registry Background will NOT have unsupervised access to any of the children at Happy Steps Preschool. Aside from parents and family members/emergency contacts who are picking up or dropping off their children, all visitors MUST sign our visitor log by the front door. Visitors will not be left alone with any of the children.
In the event of an emergency, the children will stay with qualified staff members until they can go with their families.
EMERGENCIES & LOCKDOWNS
In the case of an emergency, we will notify parents and their emergency contacts by phone.
Our attendance records and emergency contact forms are located in our “outside emergency bag,” and will be brought with us during emergencies. When picking up, the parent/guardian/emergency contact must sign the child out with a staff member.
We will stay with the children until they are reunited with their families/emergency contacts. In the event of an evacuation, we will bring the “outside emergency bag” which contains a basic first aid kit and emergency contact info.
If we have to shelter in place, or lockdown our facility, we will aim to lock all doors and windows, grab our emergency bag, and move the children into the hallway where they are hidden from our windows, close the blinds if there is time, call 911, and notify the parents. In the hallway, we also have access to a bathroom and to emergency bottled water.
During an earthquake, we will drop to the floor, cover our heads and necks with one arm, and get under our table, holding onto it with our other arm. “Drop, cover, hold!” We conduct regular drills to familiarize the children with how to protect themselves safely.
In an evacuation due to fire, hazards, or natural disasters, we will make sure children are evacuated safely by having them line up to go outside, conduct roll call, and walk safely to our evacuation site: River Road Elementary School (or outside, for our fire drill).
We will ensure the needs of toddlers are met during an
If we have children with special needs or chronic medical conditions, we will ensure their individual needs are met by having a plan with each family that’s incorporated into this one, so that all our children are accommodated.
To ensure safe transportation, we will teach the children to responsibly take walks outside on a buddy system, when we have enough staff to do so safely.
The kids and staff members here will be familiar with our fire drill, earthquake drill, and plan for emergency evacuation. We practice a drill every month.
If a child here must be rushed to a hospital, we will call an ambulance (paid for by the parents/parents’ insurance) that will take the child to Riverbend Hospital. The EMTs or hospital will be given the child’s name and the parents’ contact info. Please keep your insurance info updated with us.
By enrolling my child at Happy Steps Preschool, and as their parent/guardian, I understand that I authorize all staff members to obtain medical treatment for my child as necessary, including -but not limited to- calling an ambulance, and at my expense. Happy Steps Preschool and staff members will not be held liable for accidents, injuries, nor for seeking medical attention for my child.
BAD WEATHER CLOSURE POLICY
With the climate changing, over the years, we have now experienced winters where cars couldn’t drive on streets – including ambulances being unable to get to some areas. Many of the houses have lost power for days. Trees have collapsed on many streets. If children had been with us during this time, it may have made it impossible to pick them up from us, for us to get them medical attention if the need had arisen, and to keep them warm, fed, and safe.
For this reason, Happy Steps will be closed when the 4J school system closes the schools down due to bad weather. If they open the schools on a delay, we will, too. This is in the best interest of keeping our children, staff, and parents as safe as possible.
After weighing the financial hardships of having to be closed, for both our staff members and our families, following is the list of reasons why we have chosen not to reimburse families if we have a bad weather closure:
Please be prepared for closures (winter storm/smoke/wildfire/hazard closure, etc.), as these seem to be happening more frequently than in years past. Please have back up care or time off planned for being home with your child, in case we must close. In the event that a single parent can provide evidence of a severe financial hardship due to our closure (i.e., losing work due to no family in the area/no drop-in care or back up care available, and receiving an electricity shut-off notice after lost wages), Happy Steps may provide a partial refund for our closed days. Speak with Lindsay.
As mandatory reporters of abuse and neglect, we are required to inform the state if a child is ever picked up by someone smelling of alcohol, marijuana, etc.
It’s a violation of our rules, here, for anyone to be at Happy Steps,’ during open hours, if they are under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or illegal substances. This includes parents or emergency contacts who are picking up the children. It’s also, as you know, illegal to drive under the influence.
Please let your emergency contacts know, if this applies to any of them, that if they pick up and smell of these substances, or seem intoxicated, we are required by the state to report it. We also cannot withhold children from leaving with someone who is clearly under the influence, but we are required to call the police. This is, of course, for the safety and well-being of your children.
SUPPORTING YOUR CHILD
The foundation of care provided at Happy Steps is based on love and empathy. Children thrive in environments that are full of love, patience, joy, creativity, fun, attention, warmth, and consistency. Children also need routines, experiences that expand their understanding of the world and encourage the exploration of their (safe) environments, and people in their lives who show them regularly that they are valued, competent, trustworthy, respected, and loved. This is how children come to believe these things about themselves! And this is how children get their best first start. Therefore, we spend a lot of time playing and laughing, exploring arts and crafts, enjoying nature and outside play, reading new books along the interest lines of the children in care, and learning to be kind, reliable, and friendly with each other.
Our play-based curriculum is a blended and fluid one, as the ages in our group fluctuate, along with the interests of the children. It's based on the philosophy that children learn best through experimenting, imagining, practicing, repeating, and playing! We base our curriculum on the understanding that children need to feel trusted and adequate in completing age-appropriate tasks, as well, and that they learn best when they're curious and joyful in their experience. We learn and grow through hands-on play and exploration, through being encouraged to try new things, through observing and interacting with our peers, learning healthy forms of communication, developing conflict resolution skills, discovering art, and our own naturally creative instincts, building, and so much more. Happy Steps aims to facilitate these experiences regularly as part of an enriching day in school.
We also provide a developmentally-appropriate academic curriculum to encourage the learning of the alphabet, phonetics, writing, numbers and counting, Spanish, vocabulary, puzzles, and much more, to help prepare them for kindergarten!
WHY SMALL GROUP, IN-HOME CARE IS BEST
Small group care in school is an extremely important facet of young children having their needs met. Children do not thrive as well in child care centers and schools that max out the teacher-student ratio, creating a stressful environment for everyone. Here, we work to meet your child’s individual needs with our smaller ratio of children to care providers/teachers. We typically only have eight children per class (occasionally up to 10).
It's also much healthier and more consistent for your child to have the option of being in this home-based preschool for years (with friends their age, for years), rather than moving from one classroom and teacher/care provider to the next, every few months, as is done in big centers.
Nutrition is a critical component in having our healthiest, happiest days! Owner and Teacher, Lindsay Swanberg, has a two-year diploma in medicinal herbs and holistic health, has completed the nutrition courses at Lane Community College, and has been reading about nutrition for the last 20 years. Meals here at Happy Steps -breakfast, lunch, and p.m. snack- are mostly organic, with a focus on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains instead of processed, and certified-humane vegetarian protein choices: eggs, cheese, yogurt, beans, split peas, lentils, and quinoa. Children are welcome to bring meat from home, in a labeled fridge bag.
A typical breakfast here: Whole grain PB toast or eggs, blueberries, milk.
A typical lunch here: Grilled cheese sandwich, black beans, green salad, carrots, milk.
A typical snack here: Yogurt with apple slices, water.
GUIDANCE & DISCIPLINE
Children at Happy Steps are guided using redirection, reflective listening, “I messages,” and brainstorming solutions to conflicts. Time out is typically not used, but a safety break or calm down break might be given. If a child is becoming a threat to other children or otherwise clearly needs to take a minute to calm down and feel better, they may sit off to the side of the group, snuggle on the couch with a blanket, or go to the table for a project they can enjoy alone. Being able to attend to the individual needs of each child is why Happy Steps is a small group preschool program; we do that with love and emotional support, not shame. Furthermore, physical punishment is not an option, and Happy Steps (and all staff members) is a mandated reporter of child abuse and neglect.
This is how we shape happy hearts and great minds!
NO BULLYING POLICY
For the well-being of all the children in our program, and the emotional stability we provide throughout the day, if a child is found to have any bullying behaviors, we will notify the family and discuss a plan to work on the bullying actions, possible root cause(s), and needs of the child, to overcome the bullying and help them adjust to our program.
We typically allow a month to work on this together. Some behaviors may not be able to be addressed in that amount of time. If the behaviors are too severe, the family may be asked to immediately place their child elsewhere.
If you suspect this will apply to your child, Happy Steps may not be the right program for your family. We ask that you please don’t enroll your child if they have been participating in bullying behaviors.
If our plan is unsuccessful within the estimated timeframe, the family will be notified that their child will need to be moved to a different program.
This helps us ensure that families know their child is in a safe and supportive environment, here at Happy Steps. Thank you for understanding.
POLICY FOR WITHDRAWING YOUR CHILD
Parents must give Lindsay one month of paid notice before withdrawing their child/ren from Happy Steps Preschool. A prorated amount will be refunded from the month's normal payment, if applicable. This helps Lindsay have time to fill the spot, continue to pay employees, find a new child/family that is right for our program, and keep everything here running well. Time for children to get to say goodbye and have a smoother transition is also best, when possible.
*HAPPY STEPS SUPPORTS DIVERSITY AND IS INCLUSIVE.