Fifteen representatives attended our first Parent Collaboration Committee (PCC), which was held at Southeast Center. Following are the notes from this meeting.
PURPOSE OF THE PCC
History: When ChildRoots opened in 2007 we formed the Parent Collaboration Committee to allow parents to meet with the Partner/Executive Director Christina Unga to better understand the policies, philosophies and overarching vision of our unique school. Each classroom nominated one person to represent each classroom to attend a monthly meeting. Each meeting lasts one hour and covers a range of topics that are relevant to all ChildRoots classrooms and sites.
Future: Ideally the PCC will continue to be offered as part of our objective to better understand parent questions and concerns and as a way to connect our separate locations. Our previous committee dissolved in 2009 after the first year and a half when the majority of the representatives no longer attended the meetings. We will encourage classrooms to appoint a new representative when the initial volunteer is no longer able to attend the meetings to ensure continuity of the PCC.
COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES NEW & OLD
New Phone System: is in the process of being installed. This unified system will allow families to reach the Bookkeeper and all of our locations by calling our main phone number, (503) 235-1151. Direct lines to the respective locations remain intact - you can always simply call your Center/Annex directly. The new system will also show any of our outgoing calls as coming from the ChildRoots caller ID so if there is any reason for us to contact you, you'll know exactly who's calling. To see an overview of how the new system is structured please see here.
Shutterfly: Shutterfly links are now available in the Location Directories section on the lower-left of the website. Teachers alternate posting a weekly journal entry each week. Photos are uploaded every 4-8 days by a Specialist or an Annex Director. We strongly encourage families to use the Message Board to participate in group discussions and day trades.
Newsletter: In an effort to better communicate with families we will be sending out a monthly(ish) newsletter to families. Topics will include generals of why-we-do-what-we-do. This will be sent by email, and it will be in the News for Families page on the website.
Center Specialist and Annex Director Weekly Updates: Some schools are already receiving a weekly update about overall classroom and school happenings and we will be asking all of our Center Specialist and Annex site Directors to begin sending a Friday update for all classrooms. Look for these regular updates very soon.
Emails from Center Directors: Center Directors rarely send emails and if they do it may be in regard to a swift change of staff, or there may be a need to make an unusual announcement of some sort.
New Website: We will be sharing our new logo in the coming weeks and there are many more changes to come. There is a new Family Resources section on the lower-left of the page where we hope to provide all of the documentation that would support your child's stay with us. The password for all of the pages in the Family Resources section is childrootspdx (once you enter the password for each page your computer should remember it for future visits). Current highlights:
News for Families page: this is a collation of all of the news from the Office
Location Directories: contact and billing information for your site; soon to include emergency evacuation off-site locations (password for all of the pages in the Location Directories section is also childrootspdx).
Family Contact Information Form: *Please update contact and emergency info.* We want to make sure we have your most current information as we develop our emergency preparedness systems.
Emergency Broadcast Platform: A fire in a neighboring business of our Southeast Center in December prompted a school-wide evacuation that underscored the importance of emergency communication. We took the lesson and followed the lead of Portland Public Schools. We have enlisted with nationally recognized School Messenger as a platform for emergency notifications. In the coming months we will be integrating a very sophisticated, reliable and mobile-friendly means with which to send alerts and keep you informed in the event of an emergency.
Emergency Plan: We have spent the past four months doing our due diligence so that we can offer everyone in the ChildRoots community - children, families, staff - a plan that is as sensitive, supportive and as informative as possible. The steps we will be taking dovetail with one of our goals for this year, which is to improve communication. We will be ready to share the ChildRoots Emergency Preparedness Handbook in the beginning of March. Emergency provisions have been ordered for every classroom and they should arrive right around that same time. More details to follow.
ANNEX SITES CLOSING
All four of our Annex sites will be closing after the currently enrolled cohorts graduate and/or integrate into existing classrooms at one of our Centers. Although we love the Annex model, the logistics of running these locations have been very challenging. We have decided to focus our future attention on the Center model.
Alberta Annex will close when the current cohort graduates and leaves our school for kindergarten in September 2016.
Grand Annex will close when the current cohort moves into an existing preschool classroom at Fremont Center in September 2017.
Burnside Annex will close when the current cohort moves into an existing preschool classroom at Southeast Center in September 2017.
Ainsworth Annex will close when the current cohort moves into an existing preschool classroom at Fremont Center in September 2017.
The Influence of Wages on Tuition: Given the recent news of the Senate’s plan to raise Oregon’s minimum wage rates to $14.75 per hour, it is our goal to increase teacher wages to the $15.00 per hour by 2019. In order to achieve this increased wage rates for all staff, tuition rates have to increase. We work hard to bring wonderful Teachers into our community and one our biggest struggles is staff retention. High turnover is prevalent in early childhood education and it is fueled by two primary things: emotional burnout and low wages. While our pay scale is in-line with Oregon’s industry average, we want to offer our staff better wages. In order to do this, we need to increase tuition. To see some more information about how tuition and wages are related see here.
Yet to Come Increases: In order to make our final push to increase Teacher wages, there will be a similar increase in rates in September 2017. In January of 2017 we will more accurately determine what the increase will be. We realize that any increase is challenging but we believe that this investment in ChildRoots staff will, in turn, allow us to better nurture and educate your children. For those of you who are interested to see a general accounting of our projected 2016 expenditures and reserves please see here. 65% of monthly tuition goes directly to paying Staff and taxes, which is equivalent to 11 months of a full year's worth of tuition per child. The remaining month's tuition goes toward maintaining our administrative staff, insurance and all Program expenses (events, toys, ateliers, classroom supplies, food, emergency preparedness, etc.)
FOOD AND SNACKS
Fearless Feeding by Jill Castle and Maryann Jacobsen is our “bible” for food nutrition. We use this and the lessons from Ellyn Satter institute to construct our food program and eating practices with children.
Protein: The average protein requirement for a young child is 2 grams of protein per pound of weight. (The average 30-pound child would require 60 grams of protein each day.) Our average lunch contains 15-20 grams of protein. Our average am/pm snack contains between 5-10 grams of protein per offering.
Seconds: All children are allotted ½ cup of each food group for morning snacks and lunch meals. Afternoon snacks have recently been increased to add additional calories and an even larger serving size.
Seasoning: We add a bit of olive oil and some kosher salt to the grains or beans each meal, but we intentionally leave out additional seasonings. Children build more sophisticated and discriminating palates when they are able to truly taste the foods they eat.
Emergent Curriculum is a way of planning curriculum that is based on the children’s interest and passion at a certain point in time. Children thrive and learn best when their interests are captured. Learning occurs naturally. Planning emergent curriculum requires observation, documentation, creative brainstorming, flexibility and patience on the part of the Primary Teacher.
Evidence of projects happening: classroom changes. Once a project really gains traction, the classroom will often make changes to support the interest.
Documentation Boards: These are the square black magnetic boards that are filled with summaries and pictures of the project. We highlight the curriculum with a 'What, So What and Now What' design.
Community Boards: We have begun equipping most Toddler and Preschool classrooms with a large black magnetic board that we call a Community Board. On these you will see:
Art relevant to a project
Written notes and summaries from the Teachers
Word webbing or design thinking
NO BABYSITTING POLICY
We respectfully ask that you refrain from asking any ChildRoots staff to babysit for you. If this becomes known to us it is immediate grounds for termination and potential family expulsion. Please do not put your child's caretaker in this position. For more information as to why there is no tolerance in this regard please see the following articles:
'Hold harmless' option for staff babysitting and employee references
The Problem with Babysitting (also known as "Employee Moonlighting"
Babysitting/Nannying Children Outside of Work
Division of Responsibility (video)