Parent / Guardian Handbook

We are licensed to operate by the Indiana Division of Family and Social Services. State teacher to child ratios are as follows:

Teacher to child ratios
Age Ratio Age Ratio
Infants 1:4 3 years 1:10
Toddlers 1:5 4 years 1:12
2 years 1:5 5 years 1:15
30-36 months 1:7 6-12 years 1:15

Should there be a time that a classroom has too many children to meet these ratios, a member of our administration team or another staff member will step in to correct the ratio at the earliest moment possible.


Children from the ages of two months through 12 years may be enrolled. The center accepts children who are at the stage of growth and development which enable them to benefit from the program and for whose age level the center is equipped and licensed to provide care.

In accordance with Federal Law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. The center shall not admit or maintain any child whose needs cannot be met, or whose behavior would be dangerous for other children in the center.


Manchester Early Learning Center operates most efficiently when children are present. Thus, it is required that children be enrolled for a four or five day child care plan. If space is available, Drop-In care may be available, but at a higher rate. All necessary enrollment paperwork is required before a family utilizes Drop-In Care. Parents who are bringing their children for Drop-In Care must call the Center beforehand to make sure space is available. The fee is due upon the child arriving at the Center.

Parents need to come to the center to enroll children. An enrollment packet will be provided for each child and parents need to complete the requested information.

All enrolled children are required to have a physical, current immunization record, and a copy of the birth certificate on file. IF these items cannot be obtained prior to enrollment, parents have 30 days after enrollment to complete and submit the health forms before child care will be terminated.


Any family planning to withdraw their child from the Center must do so by notifying the Director in writing. The notice must be given at least two weeks prior to the last scheduled date of attendance. Parents are obligated to continue payment fees to meet this requirement regardless of child’s attendance. All balances will be sent to our attorney and filed with collections after 30 days of the last day the child attends the program.


Each teacher plans a daily program with the approval of the Assistant Director. Activities relate to a weekly theme. Care is taken to plan activities that are developmentally appropriate and follow the guidelines established by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Activities include participation in arts and crafts, music, gross and fine motor skills, children’s literature, math and science. Daily activities include a balance of small group time and free play time in various learning centers of blocks, pretend play, reading, art, sand/water, and manipulatives. Outdoor play occurs each day, weather permitting.

Progress reports will be completed by your child’s teacher in the spring and the fall. Parent-teacher conferences may be requested at these times, or when the parent or teacher deems necessary. Communication between parents and staff occurs daily.

Food Program

MELC is required to serve nourishing, well balanced meals and snacks that meet the state regulations for the Child and Adult Food Program. Breakfast, morning snack, lunch, and afternoon snack are served each day. Menus are located on the parent bulletin board. Meal times are as follows:

Meal times
Time Meal
7:00 – 8:00 am Breakfast
9:30 am Morning snack
11:30 – 12:00 pm Lunch
2:30 pm Afternoon snack
3:45 pm After school snack

If requested, additional servings will be provided for all meals. Children who are on special diets due to allergies or other food reasons must have a physician’s signed order indicating the special needs. Parents will be required to supply any food substitutes.

Treats for birthdays and other occasions are welcome; however, the treats must be store bought.

Parents are also asked not to bring their children into the Center if they are eating or drinking any item. Staff will request your child finish eating outside or request the item to be thrown away.


An effective program cannot be carried out without qualified staff. The director is required to have a minimum of an associates degree in education and experience working with young children. Lead teachers are required to obtain a CDA (Child Development Associate) if an educational degree is not held. Lead teachers without a degree or CDA are mandated by MELC to enroll in classes to begin the CDA process within 6 months of employment. Assistant teachers are required to have a minimum of a high school diploma plus training and/or experience in preschool and child care education. Some may also have a degree. Occasionally, volunteers from Manchester University and the local vocational program assist at the Center.

Each year staff are required to continue their education with 15 hours of workshops, early childhood conferences, in-service training, etc. All staff who work directly with children maintain training in first aid and CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation). 

Applicants are screened carefully during the hiring process. References, education, and previous work experiences are verified. A criminal history check is done through the State Police and drug testing is required as a condition of hiring.

In the event that your child’s teacher is unable to work on a scheduled day, a qualified substitute will fill in for the teacher.


Daily communication with parents is important. Daily news reports are sent home with the children each day. Staff scheduling is organized so that each family has an opportunity to talk with the lead teacher. Newsletters are sent home monthly to inform you of weekly themes and activities, to give general information, and to list upcoming events.

The center asks each family to notify us of any changes that may affect how children feel or act. If you have any questions suggestions, or concerns, please bring them to the director’s attention as soon as possible.

The Assistant Director will be in charge when the Director is absent or not available.

Safe Environment

The use of alcohol, tobacco, and/or illegal substances, as well as firearms, is strictly forbidden on the premises.

Abuse/Neglect Reporting Policy

In accordance with state law and center policies, the staff of the center will report any suspicion of child abuse and/or neglect to the Division of Family and Children.

Illness, Medication, First Aid

If your child becomes ill during the day, has vomiting or diarrhea, or a temperature above 100 degrees fahrenheit, a parent or guardian will be notified to pick up the child. Children must be fever-free, vomiting-free and diarrhea-free for 24 hours before they are permitted back at the Center. If your child is ill in the morning please make other arrangements for care.

Parents will be notified of an outbreak of communicable disease. The center will follow all directives from Dr. Lori Zinnerman, our consulting physician, regarding illnesses. Likewise please notify MELC if your child has a communicable disease.

Medicine can be administered at MELC only if authorized in writing by a parent or guardian. Medication must be brought to the Center in the original container from the pharmacy with the name of the medication, amount to be given, time to give it, and the doctor’s name. If medicine does not contain a pharmacy label or is a type of ointment, cream, etc., it must also be authorized in writing by the child’s physician. Please note the Medication Authorization in the enrollment packet. All nonprescription medicine orders must be renewed annually for children under two years and every two years for children two years of age and older. A staff member will give the medication with your knowledge and document the procedure.

In case of minor injury, MELC staff will administer appropriate first aid and complete an Ouch report. Parents will be contacted immediately if any injury is more serious. If necessary, an ambulance may also be called. It is your child’s benefit to keep us up to date with current phone numbers, emergency numbers, and medical information.

Guidance/Discipline Policy

We expect children to be children and at the same time we expect them to learn appropriate behavior for participation in groups and playing with other children. Children are taught the expectations for behavior and are reminded while they are learning them. Staff assist the children in using their own words and solutions to solve a problem.

If children behave inappropriately several actions can be taken. They may be talked with about their behavior in hopes of learning appropriate behavior. Sometimes, a child may spend a few minutes away from the group to calm down if needed. If a problem continues, the Director may call a conference so that the issue may be discussed with the child, teacher, parent, and Director.

Weapons or war toys which represent violence are not permitted at the Center.

Discharge, Arrival, and Departure Policy

Parents must escort their children into the facility and release them to the appropriate staff member. When children arrive and depart from the center, they need to be signed in and signed out daily by the parent, (or person picking up the child), on the attendance sheets provided. Parents are required to notify staff of any changes in schedule.

Only those persons that the parent has listed on the emergency contact sheet may pick up the children. Proper identification will be needed if they are not recognized by MELC staff. Any changes should be authorized in writing. If the person picking up the child arrives under the influence of alcohol or drugs, we will not release the child. Other arrangements will have to be made to have the child picked up and the police will be contacted immediately.

If a court order exists preventing an individual from having contact with a child, the center is required to comply with the order IF the order is on file within the center.

If a child is not picked up by closing time, every effort will be made to contact the parent as well as those named on the emergency contact list. If we are unable to contact anyone, child protection services may be called. Any child not picked up by 5:30 PM (by MELC clocks) will be charged a fee of $1.00 per minute.

Nap/Rest Time

All children not enrolled in school will take a nap or rest quietly from 12:30 – 2:30 PM. Each child is provided with a sleeping cot, pillow, and blanket. Children sleep on the same cot each day. All linens and cots are sanitized on a weekly basis, and at other times if linens become soiled. Soft, calming music is played during this time. Children who do not sleep are asked to rest quietly for 30 minutes and then given blocks or a quiet activity to enjoy.

Personal Space

Each child is provided with a personal space for their belongings. Baskets are provided for infants and cubbies are provided for all other children. Please be sure to keep at least one complete change of clothing, season appropriate, ion their cubby. Infants, toddlers, and those children being potty trained are asked to have several complete changes of clothing available and supply unopened diapers and wipes.

Please keep in mind that the children are very active throughout the day at the Center. They paint, color with washable markers, play outdoors, etc.; therefore, clothing which is comfortable and appropriate for play is highly recommended. It is also important to send a pair of tennis shoes with your child if they are going to wear flip flops or snow boots. The children run and climb outdoors and they need sturdy shoes for participating in these activities.

Field Trip Policy

To enhance the children’s learning and give them new opportunities for development, the children may take occasional field trips. We must have a permission slip signed by the parent or guardian in order for your child to attend. Parents must also provide a care seat that is appropriate to the age/weight of the child.

Parent Contracts

Upon enrollment and annually thereafter, parents will sign and/or renew their contract for child care and pay a $48.00 tuition fee. Contracts need to be amended when family income or schedules change, thus changing the child care fees. The contract will include a review of parent’s gross monthly income and readjustment of fee payment, if necessary. Parents who are on the Step Ahead/voucher program will follow the guidelines outlined by that program.

Fee/Payment Information

Fees are determined by the documentation of the family weekly gross income. Proof of income must be provided to determine fees. If you choose not to disclose family income, the highest fee will be charged. Financial assistance is available if a family is eligible for the Step Ahead voucher program. (Please note that child care fees include the costs of child care and all meals)

A $48.00 nonrefundable, tuition per child will be applied at the time of enrollment and each year in January with annual enrollment paperwork. This fee will help to cover registration expenses, special events, supplies, etc. This fee also ensures a space in our program.

Payments are required to be made on Fridays prior to each child care week. (You must pay in advance for the next week, not behind for the past week.) If the child care is closed on Friday, then the payment will be due on the last day the center is open the prior week. This is also the case for those families who have days off, take vacation, etc. PAYMENT IS DUE FRIDAY PRIOR TO THE CHILD CARE WEEK. If payment is not made Friday, a $30.00 late fee will be applied on Monday. After two consecutive weeks of late fees, the child may be disqualified and the space awarded to another family waiting for child care.

Each child, with the exclusion of those utilizing Drop-In care, are allowed five free days per year (no fee charged for absence) from the date of enrollment to anniversary date. Free days may be used for illness, vacation or any reason for absence. Parents need to inform the Assistant Director or Executive Director of the days they wish to use the free days. PAYMENTS MUST BE MADE FOR ALL OTHER DAYS BEYOND THE FIVE FREE DAYS. Payment will not be made for daya the center is closed, except for the eight paid holidays.

If a check is returned to Manchester Early Learning Center for non-sufficient funds, the center will charge the individual a $30.00 returned check fee.

Children are required to be picked up by 5:30 PM (by MELC clocks) or a late fee will be assessed at $1.00 per minute.

A year-end statement of child care fees paid during this year will be provided in January of the following year for tax purposes.