Parent Handbook

A note from our director –

Welcome to The Curious Caterpillar! We are delighted to welcome you into our community.

At The Curious Caterpillar we believe that from infancy children are whole people. They strive for autonomy while desiring relational connections and deserve our respect. We approach each child with respect and trust that they know best about their own preferences, styles and approaches to learning. We provide constant observation and encouragement that allows the child to explore in varied ways. The Curious Caterpillar staff desires to follow the child in their areas of interest to support a deeper understanding of the world around them. Our approach is play based and developmentally appropriate. We use the High Scope curriculum to guide our observation, assessment, and interactions with the children in our care. We use our learning center environment to provide children with invitations to play and opportunities to develop skills.

The information below has been developed to provide parents with information on policies and procedures of The Curious Caterpillar. Please read carefully and contact us to discuss any new ideas, concerns, or questions you may have.

Erin Rhyne

Program Rules & Policies

Enrollment Confirmation

Please note that our program is a Year-round program, but we do have an official start of a new program year each fall. The 2017 - 2018 program year will begin on September 5, 2017. Regardless of when a child enrolls, they are subject to any updates to policies as they occur.

Enrollment contracts will auto-renew before the start of the following program year unless there are any changes to policies or pricing (at the discretion of the Director), in which case parents will sign a new contract.

If there are any changes to pricing, the The Curious Caterpillar team will provide new rates with at least three months' notice.

Admissions Deposit & Enrollment Fee

The director of the program may choose to collect an admissions deposit or an enrollment fee.

Admissions Deposit

If the director has chosen to collect an admissions deposit, I/We agree to pay a non-refundable deposit in the amount of one month’s tuition to ensure our child’s placement in the program.

Please note that the deposit will be credited to your last month in the program, provided you provide at least 30 days notice before end of participation in the program. If you cancel your child’s participation in the program at any time without the required 30 days notice, your deposit will not serve as a tuition credit.

If your family’s care is fully covered by subsidy reimbursements are a fully subsidized family, the deposit will be held and used to cover any monthly tuition fees that are above the agreed upon monthly tuition amount or if you terminate your agreement not in accordance with the cancellation policy in place. At the end of your term, if no monthly tuition needs to be covered and if the contract is terminated in the correct fashion, the deposit will be returned.

Enrollment Fee

If the director has chosen to charge an enrollment fee, I/We agree to pay this non-refundable fee. I/We understand that this will be collected upon enrollment to ensure our child’s placement in the program.

Please note that you must provide at least 30 days notice before end of participation in the program. If you cancel your child’s participation in the program at any time without the required 30 days notice, you will be required to pay tuition for the remaining 30 days after you give notice of end of participation, regardless of whether the child is receiving care.


Private Payment

I/We understand that monthly tuition (any non-subsidy payment) is due on the 24th day of the previous month. Tuition is due each month with no deductions for any absences, holidays, illness, or closures due to inclement weather, power outages, or other situations beyond our control. Tuition is due regardless of a child’s absence from the program for any reason, and is required to hold a child’s space.

If tuition is not paid on the day that it is due, a late fee of $50.00 will be added to the tuition for each day that it is late past the 29th of the month until it is paid in full. When a payment is delinquent for one week or more, care may be suspended until the balance is current and your child’s space will not be reserved.

Tuition payment will take place electronically by Wonderschool, our administrative services provider, and cannot be collected via check or cash.

Currently payments can only be made with a credit card. ACH payments (directly from a bank account) will be added soon. Currently there is no fee associated with credit card payments, however when ACH is available there will be a 3% fee for paying with credit card. We will notify you when ACH payments are available and give you a 60 day grace period to switch over to ACH payments.

If your child's start date does not occur on the first of the month, your first month's tuition will be pro-rated accordingly. If your child's last day does not occur on the last day of the month, your last month's tuition will be pro-rated accordingly.

Subsidy Payments

If enrolling your child is under subsidy payments from the local resource and referral agency then tuition will be paid in accordance with the local resource and referral agency and we require you fill out required paperwork in a timely manner.

If you agree to a private payment amount on top of the subsidy payment by the local resource and referral agency then all private payments will be applied using the “Private Payments” section.


If you withdraw your child from the program, you must give at least 30 days prior to withdrawal in writing via email to and

Meals and Snacks

Our school is vegetarian and nut-free, but we do serve eggs and dairy. If your child has an allergy or specific dietary needs please contact us so that we can do our best to accommodate it. We cannot accommodate all dietary restrictions.

Please note that monthly tuition includes 1 snack per day and Breakfast and Lunch.

Program Schedule

The Curious Caterpillar offers the following enrollment options: 8:30am - 3:00pm, 8:30am - 5:30pm
Drop off occurs in the first 15 minutes of your child's scheduled start time for the day.
Pickup occurs in the last 15 minutes of your child's scheduled end time for the day.

We require that a parent, guardian, or approved caregiver must sign in and sign out for their child at drop off and pickup. Children will be released only to authorized persons whose names are on the emergency sheet. These names may be revised at anytime by the parent in writing. If the authorized person picking up the child is unknown by staff, s/he will be asked to show identification.

Arrival Time

Please do your best to arrive at the correct drop off time each day. If you will arrive later than the drop off window described above, please notify staff.

Late Pickup

I/We understand that the there is a 5 minute grace period for pickup after your child's daily scheduled pickup time. Each minute after that 5 minute grace period will be charged $1.00/minute.

Regularity in Schedule

It is important for children to arrive and leave the program at the regularly scheduled time. Young children need the security of knowing that they will be picked up at the usual time. If you will be changing your hours (i.e. picking your child up earlier than usual), then please notify one of the Teaching Staff.


You may park anywhere around our building that is marked city parking, or you may idle your car in the driveway or the spaces marked with diagonal white lines by placing your four way flashers on for up to 10 minutes during drop off or pick up.

Signing In and Signing Out

A signature is required at the beginning and the end of each day with the time of arrival and departure. This may be done through an electronic application or on paper.

In case of emergency, staff will use sign in sheets to take attendance. Children will be released only to authorized persons whose names are on the emergency sheet. These names may be revised at anytime by the parent in writing. If the authorized person picking up the child is unknown by staff, s/he will be asked to show identification.


Please let your teacher know if your child is going to be absent or arrive 15 minutes or more after their normal arrival time.

If your child will be absent because they are sick with a contagious illness, please let the our staff know so that other families can be alerted to look for symptoms in their children. Please note that in light of our policies and State regulations, we maintain full confidentiality of the identity of child who has illness.

Program Year

Acknowledgement of Placement in the The Curious Caterpillar Program

The Curious Caterpillar reserves the right to assess the appropriateness of the placement of your child in our program in relation to meeting the needs of your child and the other children in the program. If the Director feels that the program cannot meet the needs of a child or a child’s family, the child’s enrollment will be ended. Any deposit or fees paid are non-refundable.

Additionally, The Curious Caterpillar retains the right to terminate enrollment of your child/ren in the program in the event of non-compliance with program policies, rules, and regulations. Any repeated infractions of program policies and rules will result in your child being removed from the program.

The Curious Caterpillar reserves the right to modify any of the conditions of this agreement upon 60 days written notice to the parent(s) or guardians.

Health & Safety


Children do not have to be potty trained to enter The Curious Caterpillar. Using the toilet is a learning process and we honor each child’s individual pace. Children are invited to use the potty multiple times during the day once they begin potty training. When you feel your child is ready to use the potty, please let us know. We do not directly train your child, but will work with you to create a potty training plan for school.


If your child is in diapers, we request that you please supply the school with the following items:

Allergy Prevention

Families are expected to notify the program regarding children’s food or environmental allergies. Parents/guardians of children with diagnosed allergies or asthma are required to provide the program with an individualized health care plan, signed by the child’s physician, detailing the child’s symptoms, reactions, treatments, care, and all necessary medication.

If your child uses a nebulizer, please let us know so we can have you fill out an additional form.

Despite our diligent efforts, it is impossible to eliminate all risk for children with food allergies. Some allergies are so severe that the presence of the allergen in proximity of the child causes a reaction. Similarly, it is impossible to prevent children from sharing food or for an allergen to be brought into the program by a family member or child, despite our best efforts to educate families and raise awareness. Ultimately, parents/guardians will need to decide whether group care is appropriate for their child with allergies in light of the risks that cannot be eliminated.


  1. Children need to be kept home when they have any of the following symptoms: fever, diarrhea, vomiting, conjunctivitis (pink eye) or discharge from eyes, severe coughing, skin rash of unknown diagnosis, difficult or rapid breathing, or nits on hair from head lice. If a symptom of an illness manifests while a child is at the program, the parent or guardian will be contacted immediately and the child will be cared for away from other children while waiting to be picked up by parent/guardian.

  2. Diarrhea: A first excessively loose stool will constitute a call to the parent. New diet may be the cause. After the 2nd loose stool, the child will be sent home until diarrhea subsides and normal stools are produced at home. When a child returns after a bout of diarrhea, it is a provisional return; if the child experiences another bout of diarrhea, he or she must be picked up immediately.

  3. Fever: If a child has an ear temperature of 100.6 degrees or greater, parent will be asked to pick up the child. The child may return when he/she is fever free and after being kept home for at least 24 hours. This means that your child will be out of the program for one full day after being sent home.


Exclusion for vomiting is decided by incident. Two or more episodes will be cause for exclusion. A first vomiting episode may cause exclusion if the teacher determines that the situation for the child is extreme or debilitating.

Eye Discharge

Eyes must be free of mucus or running substance. Children are asked to be kept home for 24 hours after beginning medication. Clogged tear gland conditions must have a written physician’s note.

Skin Rash

If a child has a rash of any kind, the child will be sent home until the rash is gone or until a physician’s note has been received stating that the rash is not contagious. A physician’s certificate of good health is required to return.

Prescription Medications

All prescription medication must be in an original childproof pharmacy container labeled with the child’s name, name of drug, strength, dosage, physician or dentist name, date of original prescription, expiration date and legible instructions for administration and storage.

Chronic Medical Conditions

If your child has a chronic medical condition, which needs “as needed” treatment (e.g. asthma, eczema, seizures due to high fever), we need physician instructions on file at the program.

Children’s Injuries

If your child sustains a minor injury while at the program (e.g., scraped knee), you will receive an Accident/Incident Report outlining the incident and course of action taken by the staff member. Minor wounds, such as cuts, scrapes, or bites, will be washed with liquid soap and cool, running water followed by rinsing. A dry bandage or dressing may be applied as appropriate. You will be contacted immediately if the injury produces any type of swelling, is on the face or head, or needs medical attention.

If a serious medical emergency occurs, the child will be taken to the hospital immediately by ambulance, and a staff member will contact you (or a designated emergency contact if you cannot be reached).

Medicine from Home

Per The Curious Caterpillar policy, California State Law, and as regulated by Community Care Licensing, medicine can be administered to children at The Curious Caterpillar only if:

  1. It is a prescription medicine
  2. It is in an original bottle with Doctor’s signature and dosage labeled, sealed in a plastic bag
  3. We require that you fill out the medicine form (LIC 627) which we can provide to you upon enrollment. We have additional copies for you in our office.

We freely use bandages (i.e. Bandaids) and may use antibacterial soap.

Emergency Routine

Emergency disaster plans are located in the entry area of The Curious Caterpillar. Our policy is to dial 911 in the event of an extreme emergency. Our emergency evacuation sites are in this order:

  1. Juan Batista Park
  2. Merced Branch of the San Francisco Public Library

Philosophy & Curriculum

The Curious Caterpillar aims to provide a safe and nurturing environment akin to a chrysalis where young children can transform into beautiful butterflies ready to spread their wings and fly.

We are a play based preschool guided by many different early childhood philosophies. We believe in a research based approach to early childhood education. We believe that secure attachment to caregivers is central to the success of every child. As a Family Child Care Home with a teacher ratio that never exceeds 3:1 we are able to give each child focused attention, develop deep bonds, and offer the perfect balance between a home and a school. We believe in positive discipline, developmentally appropriate practice, small teacher to student ratios, and educating the whole child. We believe that young children crave and need time outdoors in nature, and we try to provide as many connections to the natural world as we can on a daily basis. We believe that parents are the experts on their child, but that it truly takes a village… and we want to partner with parents to provide what each individual child needs to grow and succeed. We understand that transitions are difficult for young children and we support gentle transitions for children who may be more apprehensive of parent departures. We believe that children who feel safe and cared for will naturally explore their environment and develop the skills they need to become happy, healthy, successful people.​

Our goal is to give your child the tools needed to become successful, kind, and well-rounded people. We focus on social and emotional development above all else. We believe that it is essential that toddlers and preschoolers learn how to express emotions in a healthy way and that social and emotional skills are the most important part of the development of young children.

Conflict Resolution

Our emphasis on problem solving and conflict resolution supports our anti-bias goal, where children come and listen to and respect each other’s hopes, needs, and ideas. Children are gently guided to realize the effects of their actions upon one another. They are taught to be respectful of one another and are encouraged to seek out solutions to problems with each other.

We do not use corporal punishment of any kind nor do we use time-out procedures. Teachers use redirectional approaches, role-modeling, and problem-solving discussions. Children will be gently removed from an area if they are being dangerous with their bodies and cannot stop themselves. The immediate goal and objective of the teacher is to help the child self-regulate and regain control, moving towards conflict-resolution.

Child Abuse Report

It is mandatory for all the staff to report of any suspected child abuse If the staff person suspects that a child has been abused in or out of the in-home facility, they are required by law to report this to Child Protective Services and Community Care Licensing. The person suspecting the abuse is responsible for making that call and should report it to the Director immediately.

Parent Involvement

We ask that parents maintain and uphold the core values of The Curious Caterpillar. Parents are not expected to stay beyond drop off or pick up unless previously arranged beyond the first few weeks during the transition phase. Parents are always welcome in our classroom. Parents will be required to attend one Parent Education session each school year. There will be several options available to meet this requirement and parents are welcome to attend as many as they like. We also invite parents to participate in family events throughout the year.


Our in-home facility is licensed by the state of California. As required by the California State Law and regulated by Community Care Licensing, a file on each child child is kept on the premises of the facility. Parents have access to their child’s file upon request.

Parent-Teacher Communication

We strive to keep you up to date about your child’s activities during the day. These reports include:

Acknowledgement of Receipt

I/We hereby acknowledge that I/We have received and read The Curious Caterpillar’s Parent Handbook in its entirety. I/We hereby agree to follow the program policies and procedures. I/We understand that The Curious Caterpillar reserves the right to modify the Program Rules & Policies and any other information contained in the above documents at the program’s discretion, with 60 days of prior written notice.

This invitation for admission to The Curious Caterpillar expires if this contract is not signed, dated, and received with the appropriate deposit fee (indicated above), no later than three days after invitation of admission to the program.

Your Child’s First Day

The Beginning of the Year/Helping Your Child with Transition

During your child’s first days in our program, we take special time to help your child acclimate and transition into new rhythms and schedules. Parents are encouraged to stay for 10 minutes after drop off. In addition to morning drop-offs, we support families who feel their child may need additional transitional support.

These first days may be sensitive for children. We recognize that every child is different with different needs.

Clothing and Spare Clothing

Please do not send your children to the program in their “good” clothes. Clothes should be free to be stained, dirty or in rare instances even ripped.

Clothing should be wholesome. We do not support violent or inappropriate imagery. Please send your child in safe, comfortable footwear. Flip-flops are not permitted.

First Day Checklist

To ensure the smoothest transition for your child, we ask to please bring the following items the first day of attendance:

School Supplies To ensure the smoothest transition for your child, we ask that you please bring the following items the first day of school. All of these items will stay at school. We will let you know when they need to be replaced/replenished or taken home to be washed. Please replenish all clothing and diapers when your child goes up in size. ++Please label EVERYTHING with your child’s name. ++

Extra clothing:

We will provide the following to you on your first day of school: