Parent Handbook

SAINT MARK’S ARK POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

ADMISSION

Saint Mark’s Ark admits children of any race, color, national or ethnic origin to all rights, privileges, programs and activities generally accorded to children at Saint Mark’s Ark.

Children from eight weeks to five years of age are cared for at the Ark.
The following items must be completed and turned in to the office before your child can be left with us:
1. Parent/Child conference with either the director or assistant director.
2. Complete all forms in the enrollment packet.
3. Health certificates completed.
4. Copy of custody and visitation order returned (where applicable)
5. Items on “needs” list sent to the center
6. Registration fee (non-refundable) paid
7. First weeks tuition paid.

FINANCIAL
Saint Mark’s Ark is a non-profit organization and operates on funds provided by fees paid by the parents of the children who attend our center. All fees are used to provide salaries, food, supplies and equipment. Therefore, all fees must be paid in advance, on time, 52 weeks per year. Please note: In the event of an emergency beyond our control (whether natural or mechanical), St. Mark’s Ark will not refund tuition . Also, in the event of an emergency and Duval County Schools close, then St. Mark’s Ark will also close. Please listen to the television or radio for updates.
A. A registration fee is due upon enrollment and renewable each August.
B. Registration fees are used for insurance, administrative costs, replacement of broken equipment and purchasing of new equipment.
C. Tuition fees are paid in advance on Monday. Late charges will be posted if payment has not been received by the close of business Tuesday. A $25.00 fee will be charged for all late payments. If a payment has not been received in our office by Friday then your child will not be allowed to return on Monday until the payment plus late fee has been paid.
D. Checks should be made out to “Saint Mark’s Ark” and left in the designated place for tuition checks. Please do not leave checks with the teachers, in diaper bags or cubbies.
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PAYMENT
A. Payments should never be made in cash!! Saint Mark’s Ark will not keep cash on the premises. If unable to pay by check, money orders are acceptable.
B. A charge of $25.00 will be added to any account not paid prior to close of business on Tuesday or the first day of attendance.
C. Tuition must be kept current. Service will be denied if an account goes unpaid for two weeks. The child will not be allowed to attend St. Mark’s until the full amount has been paid.
D. There are no reductions in tuition for holidays, vacations, emergency situations beyond our control, sickness or occasional absences. Fees are constant and must be paid regardless of whether your child is in attendance.
E. A charge will be added to your account of $25.00 if a check is returned. After having two returned checks, payment must be made by either money order or cashier’s check.
F. A late pick up fee will be charged when children are left after closing time. You will be billed for the late pick up. Payment is expected the day after receiving late pick up notice.
G. Parents will be asked to withdraw their child after 3 late pick ups during a three month period.
H. In order to provide a consistent high quality program, we must receive full tuition from every child enrolled at St. Mark’s Ark. Therefore, discounts for a second or third child from the same family are not given.

WITHDRAWAL
A. IF IT BECOMES NECESSARY TO WITHDRAW YOUR CHILD FROM ST. MARK’S ARK, A WRITTEN (2) WEEK NOTICE IS REQUIRED SO THAT A VACANCY CAN BE FILLED. IF THE WRITTEN NOTICE IS NOT GIVEN , TWO WEEKS TUITION WILL BE DUE.
B. Any child who must be absent for an extended time must be withdrawn and then re-enrolled at a later date if space is available. Registration fee will need to be paid again.
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HOLIDAYS
A. Saint Mark’s Ark will close for the following holidays.
New years’ Day, Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day, Good Friday, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Friday after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve.
B. There is no reduction in tuition for these holidays. These are paid
Holiday’s for the staff. If the holiday falls on a Saturday, we will be closed on Friday. If the holiday falls on a Sunday, we will be closed on a Monday.
ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE
A. All traffic should enter and exit the child care center from London Road.
B. Please park in a designated parking space. Please hold your child’s hand crossing the parking lot.
C. Children should be signed in upon arrival and left with a staff member.
D. Upon departure, please sign your child out and let staff know that you are leaving.
E. Do not park in front of the glass doors to the San Marco Room. This creates a blind spot for cars arriving and departing.
F. Please remember the speed limit in the parking lot is 15 m.p.h.
Release of children
A. Children will only be released to those persons designated on the enrollment application. Any changes must be cleared with the custodial parent in the event of a divorce.
B. Picture identification will be required of anyone picking up a child.
C. In case of sole custody by a parent or guardian, a legal document stating such must be on file in our office.
Parent approval must be given for any person picking up a child. Parent approval must be written on the sign in sheet on the day the person is picking up. In the event that an emergency arises parents may call and give information that someone on the pick up list is picking up their child that day. Parents will be required to give their drivers license number over the phone so that we can verify that it is indeed the parent giving permission. Picture identification is required.

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ILLNESS/HEALTH
A. Health certificates (forms 680 and 3040) are required to show that all standard immunizations are current and the child is in good health.
The certificates must be on file in our office within 30 days of enrollment. You may get these forms from your doctor or health dept.
B A Health check is made each morning by the Staff and the Director or
Asst. Director is notified if a child is thought to be ill.
C. A child must be kept home when he/she has had a fever within the last
24 hours, vomiting, diarrhea, wheezing, constant coughing, yellow or green nasal discharge or symptoms of a communicable disease.
D. Parents will be notified when children become ill at the center. Children must be picked up immediately (within one hour). We do not have staff on hand to care for sick children. If children remain at the center past the one-hour time frame, parents are subject to a $1.00 per minute charge.
E. Sick children who are sent home from the center may return after 24 hours if symptoms have not returned. Children sent home with a rash or something we feel could be contagious must have a note from the doctor stating child is not contagious. Our fax number is 425-3516.
F. A child must be well enough to participate in indoor and outdoor activities to be in attendance at the center. We do not have staff on hand to care for children who can’t participate in all activities.
G. Parents are to notify the director immediately if the child has a communicable disease.
MEDICATION
A. A Children and Family Service medication form must be completed by a parent for each medicine brought to the center. These forms are in each of the classrooms.
B. All medications (both prescribed and over the counter) must be either ordered or prescribed by your child’s doctor. Either a note or fax from the doctor must accompany all medicine. The note must include the date, the time medicine is to be given, and amount of medicine prescribed or ordered. Information should also include the length of time medicine will be given. All medication must be in the original container indicating the child’s name, type of medication, date prescribed and the amount of medicine.
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C. Medication is given at mid-day (one dose per day.) Parents are to give the first dose of the day. Arrangements may be made with the director or assistant director if an additional dose is required.
D. Please send any medicine and a medicine spoon in a zip lock bag. Label the bag. The completed medication form must be placed inside the bag and given to a staff person for proper storage. Please do not put medicine in a cubby or place it on a shelf. Medicine must be handed to a staff person.

EMERGENCY MEDICAL TREATMENT

A. Parents will be contacted if a serious injury occurs. If parents cannot be reached, we will call the person you indicated on your enrollment from.
B. A notarized emergency authorization form will permit us to seek emergency treatment. Each child enrolled must have this form on file in our office before they can attend the center.
C. In the event of emergency, treatment is required and you cannot be reached, the Director or Asst. Director will stay with your child until you arrive.
FOOD

A. Children may not be brought to the center eating food or with food to finish eating upon arrival. Breakfast, lunch and snacks are included in the price of your tuition. (Except on Wednesdays, when each child needs to bring a picnic lunch from home). Menus are posted in the classrooms and parent board.

TOYS/PERSONAL ITEMS

A. Children may not bring toys and other personal items (except items used at nap time) from home unless the teacher has requested an item for “show and tell”. Saint Mark’s Ark will not be responsible for items brought from home.

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NAP/REST
A. Florida law requires all children to have an afternoon nap/rest period.
Nap/rest time is from 12:00-2:00 for younger children and from
1:00-3:00 for older children.
B. St. Mark’s Ark will provide a 2 inch vinyl mat for your child to rest on.
We also sell a knapsack that goes on top of the vinyl mat if you are interested in purchasing one. Otherwise, a sheet or small blanket should be brought to the center for your child to cover up with.
C. A favorite toy, blanket, etc. may be brought to the center for your child’s use at nap time.
D. Blankets and mats must be taken home on Friday to be washed and returned on Monday.

FIELD TRIP/TRANSPORTATION

A. Children in our three and four year old classes participate in field trips.
B. Parents or guardian will be notified in advance of any trip.
C. Written permission by parents or guardian must be given for children to participate in field trips. Alternate child care arrangements will have to be made if permission is not granted for a child to go on a field trip.
D. A licensed, insured school bus will be rented for field trips. A properly licensed driver will be provided by the school bus rental company, (D. D. Willliams.)
E. Parents or guardians will be responsible for any fees pertaining to field trips. These fees must be paid in advance of the trip by check.
CLOTHING
A. Children should be dressed in washable, comfortable play clothes. Dress them to participate in messy activities such as paint, paste, sand, water, etc.
B. Children should wear clothes that they can manage. (no belts, straps, or zippers.)
C. A complete set of clothing (including socks) for emergencies must be left at the Center.
D. Tennis shoes or a similar type shoe must be worn for your child’s safety.

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E. Soiled clothing will be left in your child’s cubby. Please take the soiled clothing home and send in a fresh set of emergency clothing the next day.
F. Sandals, flip flops, (shoes without backs) or boots with hard toes and heels are not to be worn to the center. Children may not attend barefooted.
G. We cannot replace lost articles.
H. We will have a lost and found basket in the San Marco Room. If your child has lost an item, please check this basket to see if it has been turned in.
PARTIES-BIRTHDAYS AND SEASONAL
A. Saint Mark’s Ark believes Birthdays are special. However, we want
Birthday’s to be kept very simple. (no elaborate parties, please)
B. Saint Mark’s suggests that cupcakes, punch and party favors would be
More appropriate. PIZZA PARTIES AND OTHER ELABORATE
PARTIES ARE NOT ALLOWED, SIMPLY BECAUSE EVERY
PARENT MAY NOT BE ABLE TO AFFORD AN ELABORATE
PARTY. All children’s parties must be treated in the same manner.
C. If you wish to have a Pizza Party for your child, please arrange to have a private party after school hours. Invitations may be handed out, however every child in the classroom must be invited if invitations are given out at school.
D. Children’s parties will be held during either lunch or snack time. Parents are invited to attend. Please let your child’s teacher know in advance.
E. A sign up sheet will be posted for the seasonal parties. Parents will be asked to volunteer to furnish a party food.

STAFF BIRTHDAYS
Staff birthdays are celebrated in the same manner as children’s birthdays. No elaborate parties! All staff birthdays are celebrated exactly the same. We do not show favoritism. (We do not want to hurt any of our staff member’s feelings.) Saint Mark’s Ark celebrates by ordering flowers and a birthday cake for the staff person from the Ark. Please do not bring presents, solicit donations from other parents, etc. for your child’s teacher. If you wish to send a card to your child’s teacher, we are sure she would appreciate the thought. Please do not send presents or money or plan to have an elaborate party for your child’s teacher. All staff will be treated in the same manner.
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PARENT CONFERENCE/DAILY PROGRESS SHEETS

A. We encourage parents and teachers to stay in close touch with each other on a daily basis. Please remember your child’s teacher is responsible for all the children in her group. Therefore, she will be unable to speak with you privately while she is supervising her group of children in her class.
B. Parent conferences will be scheduled if you need to speak with your child’s teacher privately. Call our office and let either the Director or Asst. Director know that you wish to schedule a conference. Conferences are scheduled during nap time.
C. If you need to speak to your child’s teacher on the phone she will be happy to call you back when she has a break. Please leave a message with the Director or Asst. Director that you need to speak to the teacher. She will call you as soon as possible
D. Children 12 months through age 2 will have a daily progress sheet sent home. These will either be in your child’s cubby or handed to you by the staff.
E. All classes will have a daily letter posted on the bulletin board in their room. The letter will give you information about your child’s day.

DISCIPLINE

A. Florida Law requires parents or guardians to be notified in writing of the disciplinary practices used at St. Mark’s Ark. Parents will be given our discipline policy and asked to sign a statement verifying they have received the statement.
B. Children are disciplined with positive reinforcement at St. Mark’s Ark.
C. The use of physical punishment, severe, humiliating or frightening discipline, discipline associated with food, rest, or toileting shall not be permitted at Saint Mark’s Ark.
D. A conference between parents or guardians, teacher and director will be called if a child fails to respond to our methods of discipline.
E. Parents or guardians will be asked to withdraw their child from our center if their child fails to make a satisfactory adjustment to our program. One week’s notice will be given.

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CURRICULUM/PROGRAM

A. The program at Saint Mark’s Ark is designed to promote growth in all areas of development-social, emotional, physical, spiritual and intellectual. Learning Centers, weekly themes, and lesson plans provide a wide range of “hands on” educational experiences for the children of our center. The activities are geared to the age and ability level of each child and helps promote a positive self-image.
B. Daily activities will include experiences in these learning centers: blocks, manipulatives, dramatic play, art, music, science/nature, library-time, group-time, cooking experiences, outside play, snack, special trips, and community visitors are all part of our program.
C. At St. Mark’s Ark, we will provide an atmosphere that will nurture spiritual growth. Every effort will be made to provide the kind of warm, loving, environment in which children can most easily meet God. While no specific denomination doctrine will be taught, children will be introduced to basic Christian concepts, Bible stories and the notion that God is present in our daily lives. Religious activities will include such things as weekly chapel services, Grace at meals, Bible stories and songs, learning about the spiritual meaning of holidays and activities that help children see God in the world around them.
D. Each class will post a daily schedule and weekly activities.
E. Pre-school classes begin at 9:00 a.m. in the morning. Therefore, children should arrive at the center no later than 8:45 a.m.! This will give them time to visit the restroom before the activity begins. Late arrivals disrupt the classes. This causes the children to miss out on activities important to their progress and development. Please arrive by 8:45 a.m.!

FIRE DRILLS

A. Drills are held once a month to acquaint children with evacuation procedures.
B. Saint Mark’s Ark is equipped with an alarm system and fire extinguishers.

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PARENT/STAFF COMMUNICATION

A. We want you to be informed!
B. Please locate and check daily the parent’s board in the San Marco Room for important messages.
C. Check your child’s cubby or diaper bag every day for notices, art work, field trip notices, receipts, etc.
D. Read carefully all notices and bulletins sent home.
E. A calendar of activities and a letter from your child’s teacher will be sent home monthly. Also, a food menu will be sent home the beginning of each month.
F. You are encouraged to bring all questions, concerns and suggestions to the attention of the Director or Asst. Director.

CUBBIES

A. All children will be assigned a cubby for their belongings.
B. Please place all items except medicine and coats in the cubby as you arrive at the center.
C. You should find all of your child’s belongings in the cubby when you return. If missing an item please check the lost and found in the San Marco Room.

PHYSICAL/SEXUAL ABUSE/NEGLECT

FLORIDA LAW REQURES OUR STAFF TO REPORT ANY SUSPICION OF PHYSICAL ABUSE, SEXUAL ABUSE OR NEGLECT TO THE PROPER AUTHORITIES.

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PARENT VISITATION/INVOLVEMENT

We have an open door policy at Saint Mark’s Ark. Parents are encouraged to visit often and to spend as much time at the center as their schedules will allow.

You are welcome to serve as classroom volunteers, to attend field trips and parties, to serve as room parents, to share your job for community helpers week, hobbies, or talents with the children.

A parent involvement form is included in our enrollment packet. Completing the form and returning it will give you the opportunity to tell us how you wish to be involved. We do encourage you to attend at least one field trip per year.

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