Frequently Asked Questions

ADMINISTRATIVE FAQ’S:

How do I know how much to pay?

During enrollment, you will receive an emailed PDF of your contract and the payment schedule for that contract.  After receiving the PDF of this annual invoice, you will not receive any other statements or invoices unless your account falls into arrears or there needs to be an adjustment made.  Any adjustment requests made by you will be subject to the 2-week written notice policy and a contract change charge.

How does my payment get figured?

Once your application is received, the Business Manager will calculate the total number of contracted days and divide evenly by the number of payments that you have selected to make.   Adjustments for vacation weeks, extra care days, over/under payment will be made as needed.

Why am I charged a “slot price”?

One of the most powerful benefits of being registered with Children First is that we provide a safety net. Many families use this aspect of our services (and all families have access to it) – calling us in an emergency, adding care, needing us for snow days, early releases, delayed openings, changes in school calendars,  dropping off much earlier or later than usual, etc.  In order to be that “safety net” – we need to ensure staff availability for these services. It is your insurance that, no matter what changes occur, we will be there to support you and your family if at all possible.

How do I know when to pay?

Your invoice makes clear your payment due dates. Weekly amounts are due the Friday prior to service (i.e., THIS Friday for NEXT week). Monthly amounts are due no later than the first of the month (i.e., September 1st). You are expected to pay your contracted amount at the agreed upon intervals. You will not receive a bill or invoice for these regular, contracted amounts.

Where do I put my payment?

At the Pleasant Street location, please put checks or money orders (no cash accepted) in the Black Box (to the right of the lobby door leading up to the office). At the West Street location, put them in the Payment Envelope (ask staff for location).  They can also be mailed to us at 40 Pleasant St., Granby, MA 01033. Many families set up on-line bill paying or authorize our office to make automatic withdrawals.

What happens if my payment is late?

Payments are always made prior to service.  There is a grace period until Wednesday at 9 AM for weekly payments and until the 3rd of the month for monthly payments.  Any payments received after this time will be assessed a $5.00 late fee for each week the payment is late. Monthly and quarterly contracts will also lose their discount.  Any account that is not kept up to date risks termination of services.

What does it mean if I receive a statement?

You will not receive bills or statements unless your account has fallen into arrears. If you receive a statement, it usually indicates a serious situation which must be corrected immediately.  Accounts not made current may be subject to further action. You may also submit a written request for a statement. Heather Cruz will have one to you within three business days. Please allow the office sufficient time to answer your account requests.

What if I need extra care beyond my contract?

Please inform us in writing, using the green Emergency Care form, if you have a one-time or temporary need for increased care beyond your service contract.  A request to add care on a permanent basis should be submitted on a blue Change of Contract form.  We will notify you as to whether we have the ability to accommodate your request.  If we do, you will be invoiced for the extra care or your contract will be re-figured to reflect the addition. In an emergency, please call one of our phone numbers (24-hour voice mail) to let us know, and we will respond as soon as we get the message.

Where are forms located?

The green Emergency Care (extra Care), blue Contract Change, and pink Vacation Request forms are located in the vestibule at the Pleasant Street location and next to the sign-ins in the West Street cafeteria.

What if I need to drop-off or pick up my child earlier or later than usual?

Since you pay for a slot, you may drop off or pick up at any time during that slot (i.e., Before School, After School, full days, half days) with no extra charge. We simply ask you to inform us so that we may ensure adequate staffing and so that neither we nor your child will worry.  If your need for extra care extends past your slot (e.g., picking up after  noon time for a morning slot), please call us as early as possible to determine whether we are able to meet your need without going over our maximum licensed classroom capacity.  If we are able to meet your need for extended care that day, you will be invoiced the difference between the half day fee and the full day fee. In addition, if an emergency arises and you will be unable to pick up your child by 6:00 pm, call us as soon as possible so that we can make arrangements for staff to be on duty past closing time.  You are expected to pay each of the two staff members (who are required by regulation to be present) $5.00 for every 15 minutes past 6:00 ($5 each for 6:01-6:15; $10 each for 6:16-6:30, cumulatively).   Please be respectful of staff and complete your pick-up prior to our 6 PM closure time.

How do I change or amend my contract?

A contract can be amended with a two-week written notice, using the blue Change of Contract form, for reduction of care, addition of care (subject to availability), or termination of contract.

What if we are going away for a vacation?

Those who have a 12-month contract are currently entitled to four weeks (taken in week segments, NOT as individual days) of unpaid vacation, provided at least two week’s written notice has been provided on the required form.  Those who have a school year contract are entitled to two weeks of unpaid vacation with a minimum of two week’s written notice on the required form.  (Those who start mid-year will have the number of vacation weeks adjusted based on length of contract.) To request a vacation week, please submit a pink Vacation Request form as soon as possible. We will deduct the charge for your vacation weeks provided you have submitted adequate notice and have not gone over the maximum number of weeks to which you are entitled.

What if a week includes a holiday, Professional Development Day, or my child is out sick?

You have purchased a “slot” for your child, which means that you are responsible for payment whether your child attends or not. Additionally, staff are paid for holidays and Professional Development Days and therefore tuition is also due.

What if there is an emergency closure?

Children First works diligently to avoid any undue closures.  There have been rare occasions when we have been forced to close because of power outages or severe weather (i.e., ice storm, blizzard, etc.).  There have also been times we have had to delay opening or close early. It is crucial that every family maintain a back-up plan for these rare occasions. Our state voucher contract mandates that we collect payments for these closure days as well.

What if there is a snow day?

Unless the weather necessitates an emergency closure, snow days do not usually affect the pre-school, which opens as usual unless otherwise notified. When the public schools close for snow days (or for any other emergency), school agers will spend the entire day at the Pleasant Street location.  All those who attend snow day care will be billed the difference between the amount normally billed for that day and the cost of a full day of care.  All those who do not attend our program on snow days will pay only their normal slot charges for that day.

What if the public schools have an early release?

When the school system calls for an early release, the Children First students who normally attend the after school program that day may be dismissed to our staff in the cafeteria.  These students must be picked up within two hours of the early release because we may only be at West Street for that time period.  The older students who normally come to our Pleasant Street location after school that day will be delivered to this location.  If the administrators decide to close the Pleasant Street location early, parents will be called. If the bus company will transport West St. children to our Pleasant St. site, children will be in care as long as it is safe for CF to remain open.

What if the public schools have a delayed opening?

The Before School staff will remain at West Street for the duration of the delay and will escort East Meadow students to their bus at the appropriate time.  All registered school age students are eligible to attend on these mornings.  If children other than those scheduled that morning need to attend, please call the main number (467-2345) to let us know so that we will have adequate staffing to meet the needs of additional students.  As in all services, charges will be invoiced to your account based on the availability of staff and slot NOT based on your program usage. A 7:00 arrival uses the slot the same way a 9:00 arrival does.  The cost for the slot remains the same.

What if I need receipts for work?

Please put this request in writing and Miss Heather will accommodate you within 3 business days.

How do I request a receipt for my taxes?

By early January there will be a sign-up list for people requesting a tax receipt. This will be prepared within two-weeks of the written request.

How can I best communicate with the administrators?

It is best to contact administrators in writing (drop a note in the Black Box) for non-emergency issues.  For financial questions, please allow us adequate time to look up your account when we are not working with children. For more immediate issues, please feel free to call us at the main phone # 467-2345. If we are out of the office, please tell staff that your concern is immediate. They will contact us on our cell-phones and provide us with contact information to get back to you as soon as possible.  You may also e-mail us at any time:

 



PRESCHOOL CLASSROOM FAQ’S:

 

What should I bring for my child’s first day?

On or before your child’s first day, make sure that you have completed the Enrollment Packet (the multi-page document in which you give us emergency contacts, permission to treat, etc.).  Your child may not be left with us without having completed this packet! You will also need to provide proof of your child’s most recent physical (including a Lead Test) and record of immunizations. If your child has a life-threatening allergy or illness, you will also need to have an Individual Health Care Plan and medication administration paperwork signed by your child’s physician.

 

You should bring a season-appropriate change of clothes (or two if you deem necessary): pants, socks, shirt, and underwear.  If in the Birch Room, you must bring a regular-size, fitted crib sheet, and you may bring a small blanket for nap/rest time. You may also bring a small pillow and a “lovie” for your child. Please remember that these items must fit into a small cubby.   In the Maple Room, your child is allowed a small “lovie” during rest time if they need it; if still napping, they also need a crib sheet.

 

Please do not bring toys from home (we have plenty and these items often become the subject of arguments).  We discourage the use of backpacks (hard for kids and staff to access quickly) – and prefer open (resusable shopping type) bags. All bags are discouraged in winter when space is needed for snow gear.

What should I bring every day?

Each day, you should bring morning and afternoon snacks (see guidelines below) a lunch and a cold water bottle.

You should ensure that your child has their nap items (Birch only or Maple if still napping) and their full season-appropriate change of clothes (including those listed below for outdoor play).

You should ensure that they have appropriate footwear: sneakers for the gym, water shoes for water play. NO flip-flops or other backless shoes allowed (for safety reasons). Socks required with open-toed shoes for play in woodchip areas.

You should also make sure that your child has appropriate clothing for outdoor play: Winter/early spring: snow pants, boots, mittens, hat & coat; Late spring/fall: an extra sweater or sweatshirt; and  Summer: a hat, bathing suit, towel, and sunscreen.

What happens if I forget something?

We maintain a small supply of items (clothing, food, blankets, etc.) for this eventuality.  The teachers will notify you if your child needed to borrow something.  We ask that you wash and return the item immediately so as to be available for others.

What are the guidelines for snacks?

We firmly believe in the importance of eating a healthy morning snack. Morning snack must consist of one of the following: fruit, vegetables, dairy, protein (i.e., yogurt, cheese, egg).  Afternoon snacks do not have the same restrictions, but we urge parents to send in only healthy choices! Afternoon snack is often a salty choice (pretzels, cheese crackers) or a small sweet treat (a cookie, a granola bar). Children are very active here and do best with 4-6 different snack choices in their lunchbox (for full-day attendees).  Many parents send juice and/or milk in a drink box. We would like every family to send in a water bottle every day. While we always have water available for the children to drink, children hydrate better with a partially frozen bottle of water sent from home in a personal water bottle.  Please note: soda and candy are not allowed (reserved for rare special occasions). Please inform staff at enrollment if there are any dietary restrictions.

What are the guidelines for lunches?

While we have a kitchen, it is used for the program and cannot accommodate children’s lunches. Parents should simply include an ice-pack in an insulated lunch box – great practice for public school one day! We also have a microwave in each classroom. Many parents send a child-sized portion of last night’s dinner in a microwaveable container for today’s lunch! Please remember: no glass and items should not need preparation or require longer than a few minutes in the microwave.

May I send my child in with peanut butter?

We are a peanut safe facility (not peanut free).  This means children are allowed to bring in peanut butter if following the stated guidelines. Children sent in with peanut butter from the jar are required to have a ribbon (located near sign-in’s) tied on their lunch box which will allow teachers to properly seat, observe, support and clean children eating peanut butter.

Where do my child’s belongings go?

Staff will show you where items go in each classroom: lunchboxes on a designated shelf, change of clothes in your child’s labeled bin; coat on coat hook, shoes, boots, and/or slippers on the shelves beneath the coat hooks, nap items in nap bin or cubby, and potty items (as necessary) in the bathroom on the hooks or in drawer (teacher designated).

What if my child is still potty-training?

No problem! Simply bring in a labeled bag with your child’s pull-ups and hang on a hook or in drawer in the bathroom.  Watch carefully for notes regarding a need for replacement clothes or more pull-ups. Send swim diapers as needed/requested.

What areas should I check each day?

Every day at pickup, make sure you sign out your child [kitchen counter near lobby door], pick-up the lunchbox, and check the child’s mailbox as well as your parent folder for any items to bring home. If your child had a toileting accident, the items will be in a labeled plastic bag on his/her hook.  Every week (or more if needed) nap items should be brought home, washed, and then immediately returned.  There are often sign-ups and/or notices on or around the sign-out book. There may also be an injury or incident report for you to read and sign or other information for you with the teacher on duty.   Please pay attention to these areas daily.  You should also check Lost & Found periodically, which is located in the vestibule on the lower shelf.

How will I know about my child’s day?

We know that it is important to know about your child’s day. Monthly we provide a 4-page newsletter outlining the month’s curriculum and packed with other important information. On the Classroom Parent Board, the staff posts the weekly lesson plans. Daily, you will receive a daily report which tells you how well your child ate, slept and behaved. It will include some details about your child’s day as well as note any items borrowed or any concerns.  Of course, the best way to know more is to talk briefly with staff each day at drop off and at pick-up time as long as staff are not actively engaged with the children.

How do I know when my child will have Show & Tell?

We will post a Show & Tell Calendar on the parent board outside each classroom.  Additionally, staff will note in the Daily Report if your child has Show & Tell the following day.

Birch Room: Birch does not have S&T until after January to allow children to develop their classroom skills. Parents will be provided with detailed information about Show & Tell start date and themes. Items are shown to the class (not shared) and then displayed in the classroom window.

Maple Room: On Show & Tell days, your child should bring an item in a bag so that the other children cannot see it. The children will try to guess what it is. If the item is not meant to be shared, please let us know and we will make sure it gets put away until pick-up time.  Of course, we do not expect to see anything of a violent or inappropriate nature.

What do I need to do if my child will be absent, late or picked up at a different time than usual?

Please call if your child will be absent/ late. Not only do we worry, but often try to hold off on morning activities until you have arrived. If your child will be picked up at different time, call it in to the office or let morning staff  know.  PLEASE NOTE: only those authorized in the Enrollment Packet may pick up your child – and even they may not do so without notification from you (unless pre-arranged in writing that a certain individual can pick-up any time, without notification). It is mandatory to have three separate emergency authorized pick-ups. If we have not yet met an individual (even if it is Dad or Grandma) they will be required to present a photo ID for the safety of the children. Please make sure that they are prepared to do so.

How can I best find out how my child’s day is going?

Sometimes you need to know how your child is doing. Perhaps it’s his/her first day or s/he had a bad night. Whatever it is, feel free to call in and ask!  Most likely an administrator will answer, but she will check in with the classroom teachers to alleviate your concerns or your call may be transferred to the classroom. If we have concerns, we will call you. It’s important for you to have peace of mind! At enrollment, let us know how best to have “casual contact” with you during the day.

How can I best communicate with the teachers?

Naturally, when teachers are supervising and teaching the children, it is not the best time to communicate. However, please plan to arrive by 8:30 AM or take advantage of the end of the day to have some time to chat briefly with staff. For important information, please call in or e-mail the office. To ask developmental questions, to provide feedback or address concerns, please e-mail or place a note in the Black Box.  Many of your questions can be answered most quickly and accurately by checking the policies in our Parent Handbook (sent to each family as a PDF).

How can I best communicate with the administrators?

It is best to contact administrators in writing (drop a note in the Black Box) for non-emergency issues.  For financial questions, please allow us adequate time to look up your account.  For more immediate issues, please feel free to call us at the main phone # 467-2345 (which has 24/7 voice mail). If we are out of the office, please tell staff that your concern is immediate. They will then contact us on our cell-phones and provide us with contact information to get back to you as soon as possible.  You may also e-mail us: Donna Denette – Executive Director at executivedirector@childrenfirstofgranby.org; Heather Cruz – Office Administrator at billing@childrenfirstofgranby.org

What are Fobs?

Fobs are little gray or black security devices.  Those who pick up children regularly at the Pleasant Street location are expected to fill out a Fob Request form and to pay a $10 deposit for each fob ordered.  (Your deposits will be returned when you no longer need your fobs and return them to us.)  Fobs should be swiped over the red light by the inside door.  WAIT – listen for the click, pull the door handle all the way down and then pull the door open.  If you forget your fob, press the blue light on the wall to the left of the door, identify yourself when greeted and you will be buzzed in.

How are birthdays celebrated?

We sing Happy Birthday to each child on his/her special day.  In addition, parents may send in a special snack on that day.  We normally serve such special snacks during afternoon snack time.  If the birthday child attends only in the morning, we will share that child’s birthday treat immediately after lunch.  In addition, we send home special snacks with morning children so they won’t miss out.  We often have children with food allergies; please tell us as early as possible what treat you plan to send in so that the parents of children with food allergies may send in an alternate treat if necessary.

What information do I need from my child’s doctor?

When getting the annual paperwork from your child’s doctor, please make sure that the paperwork includes: updated immunization list, verification of lead screening, date and results of most recent physical; Individual Health Care Plan (if your child has a life-threatening allergy/illness), and signed Med Administration forms (if your child requires any medication to be administered while in attendance).

How do I learn about my child’s social/emotional and academic progress as the year goes on?

CF uses an on-line assessment system called Teaching Strategies-Gold. You may see staff using iPods in the classroom as they record observations and upload directly into your child’s portfolio. You will receive a link to register sent to the e-mail addresses provided at enrollment, to access your child’s information. Please be aware that staff cannot share any information via GOLD until you have registered. Your child will be formally assessed and you will be offered a parent conference twice a year (more often if needed or requested).  We encourage open communication between teachers and parents regarding the progress and development of the children. Please let us know if you have questions, need advice or support, etc., and we may ask you to share strategies that you use at home if your child needs extra support.

 

 

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