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St. Thomas Early Learning Centre History
The Early Learning Centre is proud of its long history of success in Elgin County.
The centre was incorporated as the St. Thomas Psychiatric Hospital Daycare Centre on October 18, 1988 and was a work place childcare centre located in the St. Thomas Psychiatric Hospital in Elgin County.
The Board of the Early Learning Centre recognized the need to offer more high quality childcare space to support its community. With this in mind, ELC worked diligently to offer the families of Elgin County a variety of quality choices.
TODAY:
In 2012 The Corporation legally changed its operational name to St. Thomas Early Learning Centre. Currently ELC operates 3 childcare centres in the City of St. Thomas, a community partnered centre in the Town of Aylmer and a modest centre located on the property of Port Burwell Public School. ELC employs over 120 full time/part time staff and contracts an average of 25 home childcare sub-contractors.
A unique program that the Early Learning Centre recognized as a huge community need was for a 24 hour childcare program. The Continuous Care centre supports the community of Elgin and offers 60 licensed child care spaces.
In addition to licensed centre based care, the Early Learning Centre operates Elgin Home Child Care. Under the Ministry of Education, Elgin Home Child Care screens and monitors up to 50 homecare providers in Elgin County.
Early Learning Centre’s C.A.R.E. (Child and Adult Resource Enrichment) is dedicated to providing quality programs and services for families, children and caregivers. Support programs offer equipment lending, Drop in “Stay and Play” programs, parent workshops, Professional learning opportunities and resources. ELC is proud to support its not-for-profit community by sharing its Culture of Contiguous “Mentoring for Success”, Leadership program that was developed in cooperation with Fanshawe Collage and Community Leaders.
St. Thomas Early Learning Centre is grateful to our community for its continued Relationships.

Program Statement
St. Thomas Early Learning Centre brings together established research findings and diverse perspectives of Pedagogy (e.g. Reggio Emilia, Emergent Curriculum, High Scope, and Montessori).
We recognize that families, communities and cultures hold distinct values about how young children should experience and interact with the world around them. We believe every child is competent, capable, curious and rich in potential.
The experiences a child has in their early years sets the foundation for lifelong learning, behaviour and health. Strong relationships and partnerships with families and communities strengthen the ability of the Early Learning Centre to meet the needs of young children.
ELC strongly believes that Primary Care interactions recognize intimate and trusting relationships. These Primary relationships promote social and emotional attachment and healthy bonds.
Our core strategies are to:
A) Promote the health, safety, nutrition and well-being of the children
B Support positive and responsive interactions among the children, parents, child care providers and staff
C) Encourage the children to interact and communicate in a positive way and support their ability to self-regulate
D) Foster the children’s exploration, play and inquiry
E) Provide child-initiated and adult-supported experiences
F) Plan for and create positive learning environments and experiences in which each child’s learning and development will be supported
G) Incorporate indoor and outdoor play, as well as active play, rest and quiet time, into the day, and give consideration to the individual needs of the children receiving child care
H) Foster the engagement of an ongoing communication with parents about the program and their children
I) Involve local community partners and allow those partners to support the children, their families and staff
J) Support staff, home child care providers or others who interact with the children at a child care centre or home child care premises in relation to continuous professional learning
K) Document and review the impact of the strategies set out in clauses (a) to (j) on the children and their families.
*To see the full implementation document please refer to our web site or request a copy.*

Communication
The key to a good relationship between families and the childcare is open communication. We maintain an open door policy and encourage parents to communicate with us any questions or ideas you may have. Parent/Educator conferences are offered in May and November, however parents may request a meeting at any time to discuss their child’s progress.
Please discuss with your educator any event that occurs that may affect your child’s day for example; a birth, death, divorce, frightening experience or remarkable achievement.
We would appreciate notification of your child’s absence due to illness as we track and monitor illness.
HiMama is web based software used by our educators to document children’s daily rituals, developmental milestones and share them with parents and guardians to keep them informed. The amount of reports you receive will vary from day- to-day and age group to age group depending on the busyness and access to the internet. Our first priority is to meet your child’s immediate needs we will do our very best to report your child’s experiences thereafter.
The organization will provide the families and staff with a survey about performance and environment annually and develop plans of action regarding the feedback.
Asking Questions or Expressing Concerns
Early Learning Centre must maintain a good working relationship with all clients and employees of the Company and with the Board of Directors. When a discrepancy occurs Clients and employees are encouraged to resolve the conflict to ensure the quality of service is not jeopardized.
Resolution of Conflict
If clients/staff/ care providers experience concerns, differences of opinion, or conflict amongst themselves, they shall be encouraged to resolve these conflicts in a respectful and professional manner on their own.
If the conflict is unable to be resolved amongst the individuals, and if the resulting conflict threatens to adversely affect the delivery of high quality service at the Centre, staff/clients/ care providers should approach the Centre Director.
The Executive Director may also choose to intervene without invitation to ensure positive working relationships and high quality service within the Centre.

In the case of a staff conflict, at the discretion of the Executive Director the conflict may need to be brought to the Personnel Committee.
Client concern or complaint:
1. All concerns and complaints are expected to be discussed in a respectful manner.
2. A family is encouraged to discuss their concern with their primary care providers.
3. If a family feels that resolution was not achieved with care providers, a client is encouraged to discuss their complaint with the Centre Director at a scheduled meeting.
4. If a family remains unsatisfied, a written complaint may be filed to the Director.
5. A response from this complaint will be given to the family within 5 business days of being made aware of the concern.
6. If the situation is not resolved a client is encouraged to discuss their complaint with the Executive Director at a scheduled meeting.
7. If the situation remains unresolved a formal letter may be submitted to the Executive Director.
8. A written response from this complaint which will include expectations, commitments or suggestions for alternate care.
9. If the family and or Executive Director feels that the relationship between agency and family is not reparable, the Executive Director has the discretion to terminate services and support families to find alternative arrangements.
The Executive Director is available to set up an appointment upon request at executivedirector@earlylearningcentre.ca or a Member of the Board of Directors is available at president@earlylearningcentre.ca to address any questions of a policy nature.
Registration and Orientation
The Early Learning Centre accepts enrollment of children birth to 12 years 11 months.
All parents are encouraged to tour the Centre’s and/or homes before registering. Orientation meetings will be scheduled with the Director/Supervisor of the location to complete paperwork and answer additional questions.
In addition to a complete application, families will be required to submit updated children’s immunizations, medical history, custody arrangements and specific health or dietary needs.
Families and children are encouraged to participate in visiting days before their start date to foster relationship building and become familiar with educators and the environment. A copy of ELC’s sleep policy will be available to parents at time of registration and orientation.

INQUIRY LIST POLICY
The Inquiry List is maintained by a designated Administrative Staff at head office who oversees all communications surrounding intake of children. ELC shall not charge or collect a fee or deposit for the placement of a child on a waiting list for admission to a child care centre or home child care agency. The agency will request a deposit (which is credited to the families final months fees) to confirm enrollment when a child’s start date exceeds two weeks. Where the family withdraws prior to attending, this deposit will not be refunded. The inquiry list will be available and administered in a transparent manner which will be available to prospective parents. This list will maintain the privacy and confidentiality of the children and families on the list.
New Prospective Families
The centre Director will contact the family to set up a tour of their location within one week of the received inquiry information. The Centre Director will then notify the Administrative Staff of the outcome of that tour and any intentions of family enrollment.

Maintenance of Inquiry List

The list is to be updated continually to ensure it remains current. Prospective families will be contacted regularly to ensure the need for services is still present. The inquiry list will be recorded and maintained in accordance to the date the family inquired and the projected start date of the child.
Accepting In
All Centre’s are confirming enrolment six months in advance. Placement priority will go to full time placement, with consideration to existing families and Staff. Any families that refuse the offered position but request to be maintained on the list will remain on the list with the date notified of non-acceptance as the new inquiry date. Any families that withdraw from the program and asks to be placed on the list will be considered new clients and will be listed according to their inquiry and projected start date.
Requests for Immediate care will be considered on an individual basis.
Roles of Parents in the Program
We encourage participation in our program and invite parents/guardians, grandparents and other family members to join us. Trips, shared cultural heritage, recipes, careers or hobbies enhance children’s experiences. We appreciate any contribution to programs and special events. For these special events, parents or other family members will be required to submit a valid Vulnerable Persons Check.

Arrival/Departure & Release of Children
In order to ensure the safety of the children, and to meet our legal requirements, it is very important that children be signed in when entering and signed out when picked up.
All children must be escorted to his/her room. Only authorized persons will be allowed to pick up a child or children. Persons who have not been to the Centre/Home Child Care before will be asked to produce photo identification.
Please notify the Centre/Homecare Provider if a substitute person will be picking up.
Please Respect our Closing hours. Late pick up after the centre is closed is sometimes a cause of concern and families will be charged a late pickup fee. Repeated late pickups could cause a family to receive notice of termination of service.

Field Trips/Excursions

Field trips represent a creative teaching method that takes children out of the familiar classroom environment and allows them to experience new things. Field trips enrich and expand the curriculum, strengthen observation skills by immersing children into sensory activities while expanding their awareness of their own community.
Parent/Guardian signatures will be required on occasions where transportation is provided.
Children’s Belonging’s
To assist in the proper return of children’s belongings, clear labelling of items is strongly encouraged.
In each child’s cubby there is an ELC bag. This bag is the property of ELC but is available for use for storage of your child’s belongings while in our care.
Remember to maintain multiple changes of clothing in your child’s locker that is appropriate for the season. We go outside twice a day. Please ensure that your child has all the clothing necessary to enjoy snow, rain, mud, and sun.
Ministry of Education guidelines state that children’s clothing must not consist of cords and drawstrings. Please remove these items from your child’s clothing as they could cause serious injury to a child. Please ensure your child’s clothing meets these requirements, otherwise, educators will remove strings.
We recognize that children have “special items” such as bottles, blankets etc.. We try our best to keep them safe but items do go missing at times.
We strongly encourage home toys to stay at home. Cubbies are small and get cluttered and often children become sad or frustrated when others want to use their home toys.

Hours of Operation
Centre based day time care is open from 6:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.
ELC offers a 24 hour licensed childcare program. This program accommodates casual care, weekend and overnight care. This Continuous Care Centre will be provided at the Aspen Ave Continuous Care Centre.
All Centre based programs are closed on the following statutory and recognized holidays:
New Year’s Day Family Day
Good Friday Easter Monday
Victoria Day Canada Day
Civic Holiday Labour Day
Thanksgiving Day
12:00 noon on Christmas Eve Christmas Day
Boxing Day
Elgin Home Childcare
Home Child Care is offered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week based on mutually agreed upon times by Caregiver and Parents.
In the event that a caregiver is unavailable, alternate arrangements will be made for families.
Days of Care
Full time care takes priority over any part time or casual care positions.
Part time scheduled days must be submitted to the office six months in advance to ensure available care. Any changes to contracted days must be forwarded to the office with a minimum of 2 weeks’ notice, subject to availability.
Full time care: 5 days per week (over 25 hours/week)
Part time care: Minimum 2 full days per week or 5 half days per week.
Before/After Care: Monday to Friday 5 mornings and/or 5 afternoons.
Casual care: Care is provided on a call in basis. This care is subject to availability and is not a guaranteed space. This includes any families providing schedules less than six months in advance.
Spaces will not be held in the event of a lengthy absenteeism (e.g. summer months, pregnancy leave)

Fees
Prompt payment of childcare fees are required. Fees are due BEFORE the first business day of each month. Fees are collected 52 weeks of the year regardless of family vacation time or illness. A 2.5% monthly charge will be applied to any outstanding balance. Accounts that are outstanding 60 days will be sent to small claims and all interest and court fees will be billed to the outstanding account.
Fees are payable via pre-authorized payment withdrawal from your bank account.
A non- refundable $100 deposit will be collected to confirm enrollment. This deposit will be held and credited to your final month’s bill.
Tax receipts are issued by the end of February each year. There is a $20.00 charge for a replacement tax receipt.
Elgin Home Child Care parents must initial attendance sheets daily and at the end of each month to verify attendance.
Prompt pick up is appreciated. Notification is required if any unexpected delays occur. A late fee of $10.00 will be charged for any part of the first 10 minutes and an additional $2.00 per minute thereafter. Chronic late pickups may result in termination of care.
The Board of Directors annually review the agency fees and a Fee Schedule will be sent as an attachment to this handbook which outlines the current year’s fees.
Withdrawal
Two weeks’ written notice and payment is required upon withdrawal from the Centre/Elgin Home Childcare.
Termination of Services:
The Early Learning Centre reserves the right to terminate childcare services if:
 Policies and procedures are not followed
 Fees are not paid on a regular basis to keep accounts current
 Upon the Discretion of the Board of Directors and/or Executive Director
Anaphylactic Children
An anaphylactic child is one who has a severe life-threatening allergy. They could experience very strong reactions such as rashes, hives, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, swelling of the lips, mouth, tongue and throat, difficulty breathing, and/or loss of consciousness.
 Please assist us by not bringing any food (breakfast, snacks or treats in hands, mouth or pockets) into the Centre.
 Please ensure that your child’s hands and face have been washed with soap and water after eating as even a touch to the skin with a contaminated source could cause a life threatening reaction.
 Please remember to have a spare set of clothing in case your child should spill any food or drink on themselves.

Health Issues
The Elgin St. Thomas Health Unit requires that we follow health and safety guidelines. The following are examples of conditions where children may not be accepted into care, or will be sent home:
 Fever of 38.9c/102F or over (axilla/underarm)
 2 or more episodes of diarrhea within the last 24 hours
 Vomiting
 Undiagnosed skin rash/condition
 Communicable disease
 Discharge from ears or eyes
 Head lice
 Administration, prior to arrival, of fever reducing medication due to fever
Medication Policy
The Early Learning Centre will administer prescription drugs in accordance with the Child Care Early Years Act. The medication must be in the original container, clearly marked with the child’s name, prescription date, name of drug and the instructions for storage and administration.
The Medication will only be administered at 10:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.
The medication must be signed for by a parent or guardian, with written instructions on dosage and times.
The staff/provider will observe the child to ensure there are no reactions to the medication.
Any minor reactions observed will be noted on the child’s medication daily form. If any strong reactions occur, the parent will be contacted immediately and directed to have their child examined by a physician prior to returning to the centre or continuing the medication.
Children that have life threatening conditions and require lifesaving medications, must have their medications with them at all time. A child without their lifesaving medication will not be accepted into care or in the case of afterschool care, a parent will be required to pick the child up immediately.
Fever reducing medications mask symptoms and do not allow caregivers to properly monitor the wellness of your child. If your child requires fever reducing medications to participate in their day, they will not be accepted into care.

Nutrition
The Centre/Home Childcare Provider will provide nutritious meals and snacks, which meet the requirements of the Canada Food Guide and the Child Care Early Years Act (CCEYA).
Parents of infants are required to supply all formula, breast and pasteurized milk, bottles and jarred food for children unable to eat table foods. All liquids and food supplied by the parent must be labeled with the child’s name.
If your child requires a special diet due to allergies, religion or parental choice, you will be asked to supply the food, in the original purchased container to be prepared in the Centre/Home Childcare kitchen. Please consider the nutritional policy when purchasing food items for your child when they are being consumed at the program.
Serious Occurrence
The definition of a serious occurance, in the eyes of the Ministry, is any serious situation that may affect the health, safety and wellbeing of children and staff and is out of the usual scope of daily activity. In spite of all the best precautions, serious occurrences can sometimes take place. If a serious situation occurs, a notification form will be posted at the Centre or Private Home based locations.
The Early learning Centre has Emergency Management Policies & Procedures in place. In the event of an Emergency families will be contacted by phone. If you would like to view the Emergency Management policy, please send an email to information@earlylearningcentre.ca

Prohibited Practices
At No time with respect to a child receiving child care at a child care centre it operates or at a premises where it oversees the provision of childcare. Would allow the use of:
(a) corporal punishment of the child;
(b) physical restraint of the child, such as confining the child to a high chair, car seat, stroller or other device for the purposes of discipline or in lieu of supervision, unless the physical restraint is for the purpose of preventing a child from hurting himself, herself or someone else, and is used only as a last resort and only until the risk of injury is no longer imminent;
(c) locking the exits of the child care centre or home child care premises for the purpose of confining the child, or confining the child in an area or room without adult supervision, unless such confinement occurs during an emergency and is required as part of the licensee’s emergency management policies and procedures;
(d) use of harsh or degrading measures or threats or use of derogatory language directed at or used in the presence of a child that would humiliate, shame or frighten the child or undermine his or her self-respect, dignity or self-worth;
(e) depriving the child of basic needs including food, drink, shelter, sleep, toilet use, clothing or bedding; or
(f) inflicting any bodily harm on children including making children eat or drink against their will.
The Early Learning Centre stresses the importance of children’s emotional development. Children should never be discouraged from expressing their feelings; instead, they should be taught how to express them constructively rather than resort to physical aggression/violence.
Situations should be discussed with children so that they may gain an understanding of the problem. If another child is involved both children should be taken aside and each child should be encouraged to express his/her feelings. Staff can help Infants and Toddlers who are feeling aggressive by giving them the words or hand signs to express what they are feeling.
Behaviours occur and we are committed to helping children and families understand why they are happening and support ways to reduce them.
Specialized Services
The Early Learning Centre promotes the inclusion of all children. We believe children have the right to play and learn in a social environment with their age appropriate peers. Our program promotes the belief that all goals and interventions are established and supported by the child’s parents.
It is important to know that supports may be provided through a number of agencies including CPRI, Madame Vanier Children’s Centre, All Kids Belong –Merry Mount Children’s Services, Thames Valley Children’s Services and Family and Children’s Services.

Supervision of Students and Volunteers
Educators/Home Child Care Providers will at all times (indoors and outdoors) adhere to the staff: child ratios as per Child Care Regulations set out in the CCEYA.
Children will not be supervised by a person under 18 years of age.
Direct unsupervised access (when the adult is alone with a child) is not permitted for persons who are not employees/approved home providers of the Early Learning Centre.
Placement students may not be counted in ratios. Students are not permitted to toilet or change a child without direct supervision by an ELC or Elgin Home Child Care professional.
Volunteers are not permitted to have Direct Unsupervised access with the children.
Awareness of what is happening in the environment requires a systematic development of supervision skills. Your Caregiver will use supervision skills that will include:
 Awareness: Knowledge of children, including knowing each child’s range of skills interest and social interactions.
 Positioning: position yourself to be aware of the entire environment and to see as many children as possible.
 Scanning: regular glancing around the environment to see children’s involvement in play and to foresee any potential risks.
Duty to Report
Every person in Ontario is required under the Child and Family Services Act, to report his or her belief that a child may be or is in need of protection. [C.F.S.A.’s 68(2)] The legislation places additional responsibility to report on individuals who perform professional or official duties with respect to children, listing “an operator or employee of a day nursery,” which encompasses Early Childhood Educators. [“C.F.S.A. s68 (4)] Licenses
The Early Learning Centre/Elgin Home Child Care is licensed under the Ministry of Education and receives annual requirement checks by a Program Advisor.
You are able to access these in depth license checks on the Ministry of Education website at, http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/childcare/
“Committed Partner in Your Child’s Growth”