Welcome to Explore
Our goal is to provide a safe, secure, and fun environment for your child that fosters communication, social/emotional, physical, & cognitive development.
Our teaches understand that 90% of a child’s brain development happens before age 5. We value adding fun to active teaching and learning. While your children are students in our center, we hope to develop a partnership, between home and school, which benefits the development and growth of your child. We ask that you read this handbook and feel free to ask questions.
Explore Academy strives to help children establish a love of learning and desire to explore their world. Learning through play is viewed as the cornerstone of our curriculum. Adults provide protection, security, stimulation, support, limits and affection. Children are respected as individuals within a child-oriented, play-based rather than teacher-directed program.
At Explore Academy children are given the opportunity to explore materials and participate in a variety of experiences. Activities are carefully planned and implemented in an open-classroom setting. Children are free to choose from age appropriate activities including art, music, language development, pre-math skills, science and nature, and dramatic play.
Children develop self-esteem, independence and problem-solving skills as they make choices and assist in planning the environment and the activities. Our primary goal is for children to feel safe and secure. Prior to being independent, a child must know that he or she can depend on adults and a predictable environment.
We recognize that children develop at different rates and have different interest. Appropriate teacher-child ratios allow for meeting the individual needs of each child. Learning and playing are not limited to the classrooms. There are opportunities for water play, sensory investigation, art exploration, social and motor development.
Tuition is payable in advance and due in full on the 25th of the previous month for scheduled care students. Prepaid Package payments are due on the date the package is desired to start prior to drop off. Daily charges are due at the end of each visit. All payments are nonrefundable.
Statements are not sent out each month but they are accessible by logging in to icaresoftware.com with your email and password. Reports are found under the grid icon in the upper right corner of the screen.
Explore Academy is available after our usual closing time by reservations made with 24 hours advance notice. Please review our Pick Up Policy.
Explore Academy is closed the following holidays: New Year’s Day, Easter, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, & Christmas Day. Each Explore Academy determines evening closing times, date nights, and Sunday hours based on community needs and customer requests.
Drop-Off and Pick-Up
For more detailed information, please thoroughly read our Pick Up Policy.
In order to assure the safety of your child, we ask that you sign your child in and out each day. The classroom registers is computer based on a tablet as you enter the Center. You will need your password to sign in and out. If you cannot remember your password you must have a valid ID to sign your child out of the center. After signing-in, make verbal contact with a teacher in order for us to know that your child has arrived and provide any special instructions for the day including nap, feeding, allergies, and expected pickup time.
Difficulty with separation is not unusual for children, especially during their first weeks of attendance. Please help prepare your child for you departure. Do not try to “sneak away” or “slip out” as this action creates anxiety for your child. Get them excited about Explore Academy before you arrive. Tell your child that it is time for you to go to work and that you will be back, then leave. Prolonging your good-byes sends a mixed message to your child and can increase anxiety. A teacher will be happy to assist you if necessary and help your child settle into an activity.
If a child is upset when you leave, please know that children usually calm down and are participating before a parent reaches the parking lot. Please feel free to call at any time to check on your child or log into our cameras to check on them.
Alternate Drop Off or Pick Up
Parents and guardians may authorize other people to drop off or pick up a child by authorizing them in our software. You can add a pick up or drop off person by giving us your name and password in person or over the phone and their name, phone number and requested password.
A child will be released only to persons listed on the authorization form in our software.
Pickup by an unknown person
If the person picking up the child is not known to a staff member and does not have the password, the child’s file will be checked for the individual’s name, and photo identification will be required. Dino staff reserve the right to check the photo ID of an individual requesting to pick up a child in our care, even if that person has picked up previously. If the unknown person is not authorized to pick up the child, the parent must be contacted for permission. Should the parent(s) be unavailable, the child can not be permitted to leave with the unauthorized individual.
If an attempt is made to take the child or if the individual does leave with the child, 911 (police) will be called by staff. Describe to the 911 operator/police:
- the name of the person
- the appearance of the person
- the appearance of their car (if driving) including license plate #
- the direction they left
- the appearance of the child, and inform operator/police if you have a photo of the child
Jessica (owner) will be immediately informed and staff will continue to make attempts to contact the parent(s)/guardian(s). Documentation of occurence will be completed by the manager.
Pickup by a person who appears unwell
If a parent/authorized person appears to staff to be unwell/intoxicated when they arrive to pick up a child and staff is concerned for the safety of the child, staff will suggest that the parent/ authorized person not leave with the child. Staff can offer to call a cab, Uber or call another authorized contact person to assist. The Owner/Manager will be involved to deal with this situation. Should the unwell/intoxicated person agree to a cab/uber when the center is closing, a staff person will remain with the parent/authorized person until the cab/uber has arrived.
If the unwell person insists on leaving the center with the child, staff can not prevent the parent/authorized person from taking their child, as only a CPS or a certified court order can permit this. In the event that safety concerns for the child are present, staff will call CPS and document the event including:
- time of incident
- people involved/staff on duty
- your concern and details about the conversation
- any other relevant information
- your name and position
If the unwell/intoxicated person is driving the child and staff is concerned, staff should make note of the car, license number and probable destination, then call the police at 911 or 406-582-2000. The Manager is to be contacted and staff should make a note in the child’s file of any agency persons contacted.
Late child pick-up procedure
We expect our parents to plan sufficient time to dress their child, collect the child’s clothes, artwork, speak to a staff (if necessary) and leave the center by closing time (dependent on location). If the parent/guardian is aware that they are going to be late, they should call the Center to advise staff of this and of their plan to pick up their child/ren.You can make a reservation 24 hours in advance if you need to stay past our closing time. You can make it up until an hour after we close. Due to the operational and staffing costs, the rate for the time scheduled after hours goes up to $15/per hour. When a parent/guardian is late, a late fee will be charged. When a child is not picked up by closing time, staff will remain at the drop-in until the situation is resolved.
When the parent/guardian is late:
- Contact the parent/guardian at the numbers on the child’s file card
- If contact with parent/guardian is not established, call the emergency contact(s) on the child’s file card and make arrangements for the child to be picked up.
- Contact the Manager/Owner.
- In the event that the parents/guardians/emergency contact(s) are not available 30 minutes has passed beyond closing time, call the police. Under no circumstances is the staff to remove the children from the Center.
- If the parent/guardian is repetitively late, staff will notify the manager who will meet with the parents/guardians regarding the situation and the family may be put on probation.
The late fee schedule is as follows:
- If you have a Primary or Elementary Student and are not able to pick up by 3:30pm, your child will be brought to Dino Drop-In for care until you can pick up. Please be aware of charges and policies for these services.
- For the 1st hour past closing time. The fee for the first time late is $1.00 per minute.
- After the 1st hour or the second time late is $3.00 per minute and any time late after that in a 30 calendar day period, the rate will be $3.00 per minute.
- If late five times in any five-week period the family faces removal from the center..
- The clock at Explore Academy is the time used to determine the late payment. Late fees are due at pick up.
- After the 30 minutes, if we have not heard from you or we have not been able to reach you or your emergency contacts,we will inform the police
- A note of this will be kept in your child’s file
- We keep you informed of classroom and Center activities through infant daily reports, the daily activities poster in the entryway, Facebook posts, and newsletters. Please know that you are welcome to visit the Center at any time.
- Since we serve such a large variety of families, some attending very sporadically, we do not conduct scheduled parent/teacher conferences. Parent/teachers meetings are available at your request.
- Please remember that drop-off and pick-up times are very busy periods in terms of transitions and adjustments. These periods are not always the best times to discuss your child’s progress or growth beyond a daily synopsis, especially if he or she is standing with you. The best way to schedule a meeting about your child’s challenges, progress or questions is by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Please call, if you have any questions. We need and welcome your input.
- Confidentiality Policy -The only information teachers will share with parents, is information concerning his or her child. Conversations about other children, other parents, co-workers, and supervisors are unprofessional, a violation of Dino Drop-In policy, and in some instances illegal.
We request that children bring at least one complete, labeled change of clothing in their bag at drop off. Please pack clothes that are appropriate for the seasons. If it is going to be a cold and chilly day, make sure they have a jacket. We don’t want your child to have to miss out on outside play at our centers with outdoor areas.
Dino Drop-In requests that your child use disposable diapers while in our care. Please pack an adequate supply of diapers for the length of your stay. If you do not have adequate diapers your child will be changed using out backup supply and your account will be charged $1 per diaper.
We ask that you advise us when you in the process of toilet training with your child and the techniques you are using at home so we can duplicate the reminders or scheduled bathroom visits while you child is in our care.
The Center provides sheets and blankets for both cots and cribs. If your child has a favorite sleep toy or any other security item, they are welcome to bring them to Dino Drop-In. Other toys from home are strongly discourages as they often get lost or are hard to share with other children. Please label all items brought to school including bottles, pacifiers, lunch bags, bags, coats, shoes, etc.
Meals are provided by parents with children being encouraged, not forced to eat. We encourage children to taste each item provided. Dino Lunch and Dinner are available for children without lunch or dinner from home at 11:30 and 5:30 for $3.50. If your child does not have a meal during meal time one will be provided and your account will be charged. During snack time, Dino Drop-In provides snacks to students at 9:30am, 2:30pm, & 4:30pm, free of charge.
A child must be fever free for 24 hours without the use of a fever-suppressant before returning to the Center. Please do NOT administer a fever-suppressant and bring your child to the Center. This is unfair not only to your child but also to the other children and teachers. Listed below are criteria for EXCLUDING ill or infected children from the Center.
- FEVER, defined by the child’s age as follows: Infants younger than 4 months 100F 4-24 month olds 101F older than 24 months 102F
- SIGNS OF POSSIBLE SEVERE ILLNESS including unusual lethargy, irritability, persistent crying, difficulty breathing.
- UNCONTROLLED DIARRHEA 3 or more times in 24 hours. Must stay home for 24 hours after last incidence.
- VOMITING Two or more times in the previous 24 hours. Must stay home for 24 hours after last incidence.
- MOUTH SORES, with drooling unless the child’s physician has determined the illness not to be a communicable disease.
- RASH, with fever or behavior change until a physician has determined the illness not be a communicable disease.
- PINK EYE Defined as pink or red conjunctiva with white or yellow eye discharge, often with matted eyelids after sleep, including a child with eye pain or redness of the eyelids or skin surrounding the eye.
- LICE, until 24 hours after treatment was begun.
- IMPETIGO, until 24 hours after treatment was begun.
- STREPTOCOCCAL PHARYNGITIS, until 24 hours after treatment has been initiated and until the child has been fever-free for 24 hours. 10
- PINWORM, until 24 hours after treatment was begun.
- RINGWORM, until 24 hours after treatment was begun
- CHICKEN POX, until 6 days after onset of rash or until all lesions have dried and crusted.
- RUBELLA, until 7 days after the rash appears.
- TEMPORARY HEALTH PRECAUTIONS may be put in place and followed during times of increased risk.
If your child becomes ill while at the Center, you will be called to pick-up your child as soon as possible. You will be notified should your child be exposed to a contagious disease. Please notify the Center should your child become ill so that we may notify other parents of a contagious disease. According to NAEYC’s Healthy Young Children Manual, “children should be excluded if their illness prevents the child from participating comfortably in the program’s activities.” As you review the policy above, please keep this guideline in mind.
Children must be picked up within one hour of notification of the parent/guardian. After this one hour window, the late pick up fee schedule will be enforced.
As children mature and try to gain self-control, they may lose control. At such times, children may be redirected to another activity. Sometimes talking about what has happened eases the tension. A child may occasionally need to sit quietly in order to calm down and regain self-control. Children are never spanked, humiliated, or embarrassed. If the behavior is persistent, teachers will examine the environment and the events which surround the behavior. Through observation and discussion, teachers will decide the most appropriate way of dealing with the situation. Parents will also be asked to share their ways of dealing with difficult situations to find a solution that fits each individual child.
Any intentional behavior that results in an incident report for another child will result in an incident report for the child exhibiting the dangerous behavior. If a child persists in dangerous behavior that negatively affect the well being of the class learning environment parents will be contacted and immediate pick up will be required. Persistent dangerous behavior reports will result in a disciplinary meeting with the parents and suspension from our center for a time to be determined by the teacher involved.
Children must be picked up within one hour of notification of the parent/guardian. After this one hour window, the late pick up fee schedule will be enforced.
When a child is bitten, it is a traumatic situation for both children and both sets of parents. Yet, biting is not unusual behavior for pre-verbal children. They may become frustrated because they cannot say “Move”, “I was playing with that”, or “You are too close”. Because they cannot speak, some children will bite. When a child is bitten, the area is cleaned and ice may be applied. They are held and consoled until they are ready to rejoin the group. The biter is told that biting is not allowed and that it hurts. The best way to stop biting is to encourage language development and using words .
Incident Report Forms
If your child is involved in a mishap that requires any type of attention or first aid, and the lead teacher does not feel that you need to be called, you will be notified with an incident report. You will be advised of what happened, where it happened, and what action was taken. We will need your signature and then you will take a copy if desired and we keep a copy.
Should an accident require emergency medical treatment, the child will be taken by ambulance to the closest Emergency Room. The parents will be contacted immediately to meet the staff member and the child at the Emergency Room. If neither parent can be reached, we will call the emergency contact person designated on the child’s profile
When you sign into our software at drop off you are authorizing us to implement the plan described above.
All incidents will be reviewed by staff for repetitive behaviors and action will be take if a child proves to be harmful to other children while attending Dino Drop-In. Dino Drop-In does save video for 5 days with the nest cam and management will review if requested. Clip recordings will not be provided to individual parents to protect the privacy of all children. Clips can be reviewed with management at Dino Drop-In.
Infant Intake & Daily Report Forms
Teachers will take detailed notes on the desired care protocol for children under 18 months; nap times, prefered eating schedules/items, and general demeanor will be noted to provide continuity of care by all teachers over the course of the day. Teachers will keep daily records concerning your infant’s activities and behaviors during the day. Special needs will also be noted on the forms.
Parents can learn about activities your child did throughout the day by reading the daily activity poster in the entryway. This may help serve to initiate conversation and questions about your child’s day at home.
At drop off, we ask that you share information concerning any event or happening that may affect your child’s behavior during the day. Were they up late? Is a parent ill or at home? Is your child teething? Please feel free to share anything you think may help our teachers best care for your child that day.
Thank you for allowing us to care for your child. We love playing, learning and having fun every day! Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Jessica@DinoDropIn.com with any questions or ideas.
Jessica Dehn and all of the Dino Teams