History The Family Place was the brain child of a group of people in the early 1980s that saw a need for extended services for children and their families in the Milton area. The group worked with the community and especially the Children’s Aid Society in creating the plans for a child care centre focusing on infants and toddlers, as well as servicing high risk families who were in need of support with their parenting skills. In 1982, a centre for 10 Infants, 15 Toddlers and 16 Preschoolers, was opened in an empty wing of the Regional Senior’s Home in Milton, now known as Allendale. 10 of the 41 spots were reserved for children of high risk families that might have otherwise been sent to foster homes. While the children gained developmental strengths in the program at the centre, their parents participated in a Parenting Program that involved them in both counselling and actual observing in their child’s classroom. It was a tremendous success and blended with an Intergenerational Program with the seniors, created a program that won the Margaret Fletcher Award in 1983 for outstanding innovation in child care. Over the years, funding sources have changed and the involvement with the Children’s Aid Society has changed. The centre’s Parenting Program became part of the Children’s Assessment and Treatment Centre (CATC), providing community-wide family support. Allendale was redeveloped and the child care centre found a new home in 1991, at Bishop Reding High School in Milton. In 1995, with a desire to expand, The Family Place opened a second centre in Heritage Glen Public School in Oakville. This provided an opportunity to expand our program to older children in a school-based setting where the emphasis would be on creating a virtually seamless day between child care and the school. Again, we have been over-whelmed with our acceptance and learned so much from creative school-age staff and elementary teachers.
Having two centres about 20 kilometres apart, is a challenge for any organization, but we feel we have overcome many hurdles and work very hard to see ourselves as a team in two rather different settings.
The Family Place provides high quality child care in an enriched atmosphere. We welcome all families who would like to share their children with our trained staff. With openness to culture, race, religion and abilities, we ensure that all children and their families are treated with respect and dignity. We believe that children bring their own unique talents to our classrooms as competent, capable and curious individuals. As educators, we provide a positive learning environment which enhances children's experiences and encourages exploration within the world around them. We support positive and responsive interactions with our children, their parents/guardians, our staff and our community partners fostering the engagement of ongoing communication. The staff of The Family Place believes that children benefit when we work hand in hand with families and collaborate with community partners to support their growth and development.
Emergent Curriculum Our programs are current with the Ministry of Education's Child Care Early Years Act. Our staff is trained in the new pedagogy: How Learning Happens, Ontario Early Learning Framework, Think Feel Act and Early Learning for Every Child Today (ELECT,http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/childcare/). Emergent Curriculum is responsive to children's interests by enabling them to engage in meaningful exploration in their surroundings. By taking the child's lead, the staff and children build an interactive space which enhances their imagination and creativity. The teachers engage the children during play, listening, responding and encouraging dialogue to expand their play. We take their cues and enhance the classroom activities, allowing the children to build onto their own knowledge.
The Role of the Teacher Our teachers believe in the importance of reflective practices. They reflect on their experiences with the children to build a continuous learning forum that enhances both the child’s and the educator’s own development. It is our belief that children are competent thinkers and learners. Each child is thought of as an individual, giving them the opportunities to grow and develop at their own pace. Children respond when they are heard and when activities reflect their own interests. We acknowledge that children's actions and ideas are key to their growth. Through the use of open-ended questions and meaningful conversations, we dig deeper into what children are thinking in order to expand their learning opportunities.
Our teachers observe the children throughout their day. The teachers talk with children, listening and expanding on the children’s interests. The teachers then build on these interests by incorporating activities into the classroom and in the playground. The children can move from area to area, freely taking activities with them to enhance and build on their play. The teachers engage in the children’s play, asking questions, encouraging language, inviting other children in to expand the play. They may introduce different activities to broaden the learning moments, gathering in large and small groups. These spontaneous moments are what lead the classroom to different learning moments.
Our educators follow pedagogical documentation, whereby they make daily observations, then use this information to build onto the existing activities, to enhance their learning process. Our educators document this information on their white boards through anecdotes and pictures. The white boards are located in each classroom. Each day, the teachers add to the boards the children’s statements, their work, and pictures of the children engaged in activities. This documentation is not only for teachers to review, and then expand on the learning moments, but for the children to visualize their progress. Parents are encouraged to take a moment each day and look at the progress their child and their peers are making. This can start a conversation about child development.
The interest on the board can last a week, or up to a month, all depending on the interest of the children and how far the classroom wants to go. The teachers take pictures of their boards and file them in a binder for future use. The teachers may look back on some ideas they have used before or review with the children what they have talked about previously with visual cues.
The Supervisors support the classrooms daily by visiting each classroom, listening to the teacher/child interactions and ensuring the interests are being explored and expanded. Each classroom has a designated monthly date and time to meet with the Supervisor to go over any concerns or challenges within the classroom. This enables the teachers to have time to brainstorm without interruption. Strategies are discussed, and the Supervisor follows through during daily visits to the classrooms.
As educators, we reflect on child development theories with co-workers and professionals in our field to support and enhance the growth of each child at The Family Place. Our belief is that children learn through trial and error. Our teachers can best support the child through conversation, positive redirection and follow through. We look at the child’s ability to process information, adapting to the strengths and needs of the child. We support the child's ability to self-regulate by allowing them the time to process their actions, reactions and to move beyond the situation. Our educators participate throughout the process to ensure all parties feel heard and a solution is acceptable to all parties. We believe children are more apt to retain information when they are part of the process, a skill for lifelong learning.
Professional Development The Family Place is a member of the highest level of Halton Region's Quality First, an early learning initiative. We are committed to high quality in our programs and in our teacher/child interactions. The commitment of our long-term staff shows their passion in the child care field. Most of our educators are registered with the College of Early Childhood Educators, while other educators bring a wealth of knowledge in this field. To maintain our high standards, The Family Place requires its educators to update their professional development yearly through workshops, conferences and webinars.
We have many opportunities for professional and personal development through Halton Region. Staff are able to share their experiences during staff meetings, allowing all our educators the ability to enhance their development. We hold monthly staff meetings at each centre and every three months we hold joint staff meetings, where both centres come together to have a professional development evening from a speaker or visit the other’s centre for ideas and dialogue surrounding Emergent Curriculum, Loose Parts and the ELECT documentation. We invite other centres to join in this sharing evening. This allows the building of partnerships, engaging in information sharing and allowing for the enhancement of our profession
Behaviour Guidance Behaviour guidance is a technique of using positive strategies that enhances a sense of belonging and well-being for children in our care. Once a child enters our program, we need to build caring, respectful relationships with them. We need to look at each situation from the child’s perspective. Behaviour guidance is an ongoing process.
Environment - Are there enough activities for all children, is there enough space for the children to freely play and interact with each other. Transitions - Give children notice prior to a transition, work with small groups during transitions which gives children more time with a teacher. Positive Social Interactions – Role model positive interactions with children, families and staff. Self-regulation – Offer children time to absorb their surroundings, acknowledge their feelings, offer fidget toys and quiet areas for children to relax. Look at the child’s emotional state, are their outside sources affecting their emotional state. Look at our own judgements – Are we emotionally open, do we support in the classroom from peers, are we free from judgement, be patient with ourselves.
BEHAIVOUR GUIDANCE IS:
Related to the nature of the behaviour
Appropriate to the developmental level of the child
Used in a positive and consistent manner
Aimed at separating the behaviour from the child (the deed from the doer)
Designed to assist the child in learning appropriate behaviour and self-regulation
Discussed with parents if a difficult situation arises or is ongoing with a child
Approach quickly and calmly to stop hurtful or unsafe behaviour right away,
Acknowledge each child’s feelings,
Gather information from each child involved,
Identify and state the problem to the children,
Brainstorm solutions with the children,
Allow the children to develop a solution and use it, if the child is having difficulty coming up with a solution, give them choices
Follow through, facilitate the interaction with the children if need be
Prohibited Practices THE CHILD CARE EARLY YEARS ACT STATES THAT NO OPERATOR SHALL PERMIT:
Corporal punishment of the child;
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;
Locking the exits of the child care centre 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;
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;
Depriving the child of basic needs including food, drink, shelter, sleep, toilet use, clothing or bedding; or
Inflicting any bodily harm on children including making children eat or drink against their will.
The staff of The Family Place are expected to comply with the program's stated policies and procedures and the requirements of the CCEYA with respect to behaviour management.
Dangerous or Disruptive Behaviours In the case where behaviour is out of control on a consistent and regular basis, the staff, in conjunction with the Supervisor and/or Executive Director, will meet with the parents. With input from both sides, a behaviour plan will be outlined that will identify the areas of concern and map out strategies to be implemented both at home and at the centre. Where the child is in the school-age program, a contract may be signed with the child.
In severe cases where dangerous or disruptive behaviours continue, the child may be asked to leave child care. This decision will be made by the Executive Director, only after a behaviour plan has been given a reasonable try.
Children attending The Family Place in Oakville are expected to adhere to the Code of Student Behaviour adopted at Heritage Glen Public School since the child care centre is located in and participates with the elementary school.
Workplace Violence and Harassment and Sexual Harassment and Violence The Family Place (FP) is committed to providing a safe, healthy and supportive working environment for all by treating our employees and clients with dignity, respect, fairness and sensitivity. FP is also committed to the principles set out in Bill 168, Bill 132 and in the Ontario Human Rights Code that every employee has a right to freedom from violence, sexual violence, harassment and sexual harassment in the workplace. Each employee must equally assume responsibilities in achieving this result. The management of FP will make every reasonable effort to identify potential sources of violence and harassment and to eliminate or minimize these risks through our Workplace Violence and Harassment Prevention Policy and Procedures.
Health and Safety The Family Place meets or exceeds all health and safety requirements of the Ministry of Education and Halton Region. The Family Place promotes health and safety through our policies and procedures, which are approved by our Board of Directors. All staff are required to read and follow all policies and procedures. They are reviewed during the staff's annual evaluations. All policies and procedures can be found on our website.
All staff are trained in Standard First Aid and CPR/AED. Staff recertify in CPR/AED every year, and in Standard First Aid and CPR/AED every three years. Staff, volunteers, and students over 18 must have a recent Police Vulnerable Sector Check (PVSC) prior to employment at The Family Place. All staff presents an original copy of their PVSC prior to working at The Family Place. On the anniversary of this PVSC, all staff will sign a Declaration of Offence each year for four years and on the fifth year; they are required to produce a new PVSC. Staff cannot work or volunteer at The Family Place without a current PVSC.
Nutrition The Family Place realizes that children in child care receive a large portion of their daily nutrition away from home. In order to ensure that your children receive the nutrition they need while at our centres, we follow the recommendations set out in Health Canada’s Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide and Nutrition for Health Term Infants. Food for Tots supplies our children with nutritious hot lunches, approved by a registered dietician. Our floater staff purchases and prepares nutritious snacks daily, ensuring that two food groups are served at each sitting. Children are supervised at all mealtimes for safety and to encourage positive mealtime practices. No foods are to be brought into the centres by parents without prior approval from Supervisors. An ingredient list must be provided.
Some of our children and staff are allergic to certain foods, medicines, insects and latex. When they come in contact with these things, they have a severe allergic reaction. When a family comes to us acknowledging their child is anaphylactic to a certain substance or thing, we take it very seriously.
We meet with the parent, asking them to outline:
the child’s allergens,
if they have had a reaction and if so the symptoms
type of Epi-Pen
This is documented on our Emergency Anaphylaxis Plan form. This form is then posted in the child’s classroom, kitchen, and any serving area. A copy is kept in the emergency contact classroom binder, to ensure this form is with them at all times. All staff, volunteers and students review this form familiarizing themselves with the child, their allergens and symptoms. This form is reviewed by the parents annually, prior to the expiry date of the epi-pen. Staff, students and volunteers must review the form and then sign the back of the form annually. See Anaphylaxis Policy PR27 for Anaphylaxis Emergency Plan form.
Allergies Allergy lists contain the child’s name and food allergy or food restriction. The allergy lists are posted in the kitchen, serving area, all playroom or play areas, and attached to the emergency contact classroom binder, to ensure this form is with them at all times.
Staff are asked to review these allergy lists daily prior to meal time. When groceries are brought into the centre an orange “OK” sticker is adhered to the food to ensure that they have been reviewed for nuts and any other major allergy restrictions within the centre.
Play Play shapes a child’s growth and development. Play is spontaneous, allowing children to lead the play on their own terms, making their own choices. Play allows children to use their imagination and build onto their own knowledge. They build their social skills, learning from their peers, through reasoning and problem solving. Teachers invite the children into play, through gestures and activities. This broadens their knowledge to support their growth and development.
Opportunities for play are found inside and outside the classroom. Our indoor classrooms are set up for free-flowing exploration. Our outdoor areas are set up for children to explore the nature around them. Weather depending, children at our centres have opportunities to engage in outdoor play for two hours per day. This is typically split between the morning and afternoon. This balance allows the children to experience fresh air twice a day. Infants, toddlers and preschoolers require a daily quiet/rest time to be able to rejuvenate and reflect on their experiences during their busy day. Indoor and outdoor areas are arranged to the best of our ability so that all children can move freely and make choices based on their abilities, interests and needs.
Community Members The Family Place believes that being part of our community supports everyone’s well-being and engagement. As both our centres are located in schools, are number one community partners are the teachers, custodians, students and principals at Bishop Reding and Heritage Glen. Both Kelly and Wendy have built a strong connection with the schools over the years, allowing The Family Place to feel a part of their community. Our children observe the older children throughout their comings and goings to and from the school, showing our children the enjoyment of attending school, and their positive interactions on the school grounds. Our children are invited to performances throughout the year, along with the ability to utilize the gyms during inclement weather. This allows our children to get out of the centre and see a different world around them.
We invite community members to showcase their talents while broadening our children’s learning opportunities. The local librarian visited the Milton centre for our Literacy week. She read books to the children and handed out library cards to parents encouraging literacy at home. The Oakville centre invites special guests that showcase exotic animals.
MPP Indira Naidoo-Harris has visited the Milton centre several times, announcing the Provincial government’s financial commitment to child care. Indira’s son use to attend The Family Place in Milton.
Volunteers and Students The Family Place recognizes the value of having parent volunteers, co-op students and students in Early Childhood Educators placements. However, we also recognize the necessity of providing a safe environment for our children.
Volunteers and students are not permitted to have unsupervised access to the children. The volunteers and students will be supervised by a designated employee at all times. They are not permitted to be left alone with any child. Volunteers, students and agency staff who may be working in the classroom, are not to be counted in the adult:child ratios.
Volunteers and students will have an orientation with the Supervisor and their designated staff member prior to their start date. They will go over all the policies and procedures and must sign off that they will abide by them at all times. We believe that if a volunteer or student is interested in becoming a part of The Family Place, they should be immersed in the daily routines of the programs. Volunteers and co-op students are not permitted to partake in any bathroom or diapering routines. ECE students are permitted as this is part of their learning process from their College or University; again they will never be left alone with any child.
Parents We consider ourselves very fortunate to be able to be a part of your family’s lives. We believe that families are the experts on their own children. We look towards a partnership, working together to enhance your child’s growth and development during the most important years in his or her life. To do this, we require daily open communication, as we can best support our little ones if we are apprised of any changes in the household. We encourage all families to communicate with our staff daily regarding their children's health. This allows our staff the ability to support each child’s emotional and physical needs. We believe this partnership supports the whole child.
We connect with families through several planned family events held at the centres throughout the year. The Supervisors share their quarterly Newsletter through email, which gives parents updates of our programming and events within the centre. We post important notices of upcoming events, PD days and community information for parents on the Parent Board, located in the front hallways of both centres. Our website is updated by a volunteer from the Board as pertinent information for both centres is identified.
We have an open-door policy, where parents are encouraged to talk to their classroom teachers and offer feedback to the centre Supervisor and Executive Director. We have a wealth of knowledge in child development along with connections to our local community partners: Heritage Glen Public School, Bishop Reding Catholic Secondary School, Halton Region, THRC, and Quality First. Students who are enrolled in the Early Childhood Educators program at several local colleges do their placements at each centre, enabling them to gain hands-on experience in the field. This benefits the centres by bringing in new ideas, and also allows the centres to assess potential employees.
The policies and procedures that govern our programs can be found on our website. Our times of operation and an outline of our programs are listed in our Parent Handbook, which is also found on our website.
Our staff respects and values input from parents, whom we encourage to be part of the decision-making process for their child. The Family Place supports families by consulting with all professionals who are involved with them and their child. We believe in a team effort to support the entire family.