The Elm Tree Newsletter September 2009
We would like to welcome to all of the families who are new to The Elm Tree. We are excited to get to know you and grateful for the opportunity to provide care for your little ones.
This past Tuesday, September 15th, we held our quarterly Parent Community Night at The Elm Tree. Thanks to the many parents who were able to attend, we know it’s not easy to arrange for childcare but hope it was well worth your effort. These parent meetings are an opportunity to meet and interact with fellow-parents, and it is also a time for parents to contribute input on important decisions that will affect them. This newsletter will serve as a way to inform those who could not attend about some of the things that we discussed.
Afternoon Extended Care
When our hours changed Sept. 1st, several families found it very difficult to pick their children up at 3:30, our new closing time. On a trial basis, we offered aftercare from 3:30-5:30 for M/W/F families. It was an experiment to see how many families would take the extra time slot and to see whether we could cover our costs as well. After examining the budget, it seems that we need a minimum of four children signed up for the extended care time slot in order to
break even on staffing costs. We discussed the possibility that shortening the time from 5:30 to 5:00 may be just what we need to make it more attractive to our families. At the meeting four families committed to the extended care slot on MWF, if it ended at 5pm. So what this means is that we will most likely shorten the extended care period at a new rate, to be announced shortly.
Additionally, we have several families who would like to see extended care offered on Tuesday and Thursday as well. Currently there are two families interested, if we found two more who would take aftercare on Tuesdays and Thursdays, we could offer it five days a week. If any parents are interested in this please speak with Sarah right away.
Our Blog and Daily Report
Many of you may be unaware that we have a blog. We post a write up of our daily activities, emails that are sent to families as well as family-friendly events in the community. You can visit www.TheElmTree.org/blog to see the blog.
At the meeting we also discussed the ownership change. We were not able to close the sale on September 1st as originally hoped. We are still waiting on licensing and funding to come through before the sale can be finalized. In the meantime, Sarah will be the acting director. Since most of the changes that will happen around this transition have already occurred,
it may not seem like a big deal, but we do want everyone to be informed. We will let you know when the sale is finalized. On that note, any families who have not yet signed the new contract please do so, we will continue to honor the old contracts as well as the new contracts in this interim period. We will adjust the date that the new contract goes into effect when that date is known. Thanks for your patience and understanding through these transitions.
Many parents are extra concerned about the flu season this year. We have received a lot of information in the last few months on the influenza strain H1N1 and wonder what that will mean for the children, families and staff members of childcare facilities.
Some families raised questions about the new vaccine that will be coming out next month. While we recommend that parents make their own decisions about what is best for their family, there is also some concern about how quickly this vaccine was produced and how little we know about its side effects.
We will be taking extra precautions here at The Elm Tree to prevent the spread of any type of illness among children and staff members and ask that parents partner with us to keep everyone healthy.
First and foremost, it cannot be emphasized enough how important it is to keep our immune systems strong. Adequate rest; a healthy, nutrient-rich diet; plenty of fluids and exercise can make all the difference
when it comes to warding off the many germs we come into contact with every day.
Additionally, we can prevent the spread of illness by staying home when we do get sick. Although it may seem inconvenient to stay home with your child when they aren’t feeling well, imagine how many fewer illnesses we would see in the childcare setting if all parents did this.
To make sure that only well children come to school each day we are going to begin doing Daily Health Checks. Each child will be greeted and assessed by a staff member when they arrive. We will be checking for signs and symptoms that a child is not feeling well such as fever, rash, drooping eyes, runny nose etc. We will also ask you how their night and morning have gone and if they are having any unusual behavior. Remember most of these illnesses are highly contagious when children are just starting to show symptoms, so that cranky, irritable child may be one who is passing germs on to others.
Parents, please, please, take extra measures to keep your children home when they don’t feel well. It will make all the difference for us this flu season. If employers object, blame the ‘Swine Flu’ precautions. Be prepared to bring your child back home with you if they arrive not feeling well. We will be even more vigilant about it this year. Please read the sick policies in our parent handbook for more information. Additional handouts specific to H1N1 will be given to parents separately.
Family Service Hours
In this past quarter, with so many families transitioning into the program and going through a major transition ourselves, we decided to let the service hour requirement slide. Service hours are typically collected on a clipboard in the hall closet (the one with a mirror on the door). They are then entered into a spreadsheet and added up quarterly. Any hours not fulfilled by the end of a quarter are billed ($25/service hour). Fees parents pay in lieu of working the hours help purchase materials and equipment that directly benefit the children.
At the meeting we discussed whether this is the best method for tallying and billing service hours. Families all seemed in favor of using this method, with the request that they receive monthly updates on their service hour total. If anyone else has other feedback or suggestions, please let us know! A new quarter begins October 1st, but all hours accumulated in this current quarter will roll over to the next one.
A list will be posted in the hall with service hour opportunities and we are always open to the suggestions of parents. If you would like to be involved in the classroom or share a personal interest or cultural tradition with us, we’re all for it! One really great way to get involved is to volunteer for one or more of our family functions. Another opportunity, if anyone were interested, would involve picking up all the blankets used for naptime on Fridays and returning them on Mondays. Anyone who is interested in being our ‘blanket fairy’ let us know.
That brings us to our yard sale, scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, the 26th and 27th of this month. This is our only fund-raiser and all proceeds will go towards purchasing new, energy-efficient windows for The Elm Tree.
A sign-up sheet has been posted, please look it over and sign up for a shift (or two!). Also, plan to attend the set-up on Friday night before the yard sale with potluck style dining and a chance to purchase items before the sale begins on Saturday. We will need as much parent involvement as possible to make this event a success.
Donations may be brought in beginning next week, please price items before bringing them in. A pricing guide for clothing has been distributed to all of you and price stickers are available in the office on the desk for anyone to take.
We are also asking parents to loan us some items for the yard sale, if you have any of these things that you can bring in, we will be sure to label them and return them to you when done: Hangers, Tables (any size), Tarps (any size). Also, if you have been collecting grocery bags, here is a great opportunity to give them a ‘second life’.
Thank you to all the wonderful, involved families that we have here. It is a pleasure to work with you and get to know you. Suggestions, comments and questions are always welcome; so don’t hesitate to let us know what is on your mind!
The Elm Tree Staff