Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is Discovery Gardens licensed?
A: Yes. We are a state licensed facility. Our state certifier comes to visit unannounced as well as scheduled visits multiply times a year. We also have inspections from the sanitation department and the Fire Marshal.
Q: What is your policy regarding sick kids?
A: Sick children are not kept in care. We have a sick policy posted on the parent board and it is also in the parent handbook. Discovery Gardens understands that a child’s illness may be an inconvenience by causing patents/guardians to miss school or work, which is why we recommend having back-up care. We want to be able to work together to keep all children and staff healthy!
Q: Do I have to pay for the days when my child is absent due to illness or vacation?
A: Tuition is charged on a month-to-month basis. Discovery Gardens has taken in account for all holidays and school closures. That is one reason why our tuition is lower than the majority of other comparable programs.If your family decides to go on vacation or your child is sick, tuition is the same.
Q: What types of meals and snacks do you serve?
A: Discovery Gardens provides a three-week rotating menu schedule. You can find our meal schedule posted in each classroom on parent board. If your child needs specific dietary accommodations due to allergies or family beliefs, please let us know so that we can work with your family to meet your child’s needs.
Q: Do you charge extra if I am late picking up my child?
A: Yes. The rate for a late pick-up is $3.oo per minute for the first 15 minutes. After that, a flat rate of $75.00 (equivalent to an extra full day of care) is assessed for each child remaining in care past the contracted time.
However, we do take in account that sometimes traffic and certain emergencies may occur.
Communication is our number one policy, so please call us immediately if these circumstances occur – if we can work something out, we will. Please remember that we work nine-hour days, and that our staff members have families too. If they are kept past our normal business hours, then overtime must be paid.
Q: Can I observe or visit my child whenever I’d like?
A: Absolutely. We have an open door policy for all of our families. We encourage parent involvement as much as possible. Families are more than welcome to stop by early in the day or on a lunch break, etc. If visiting becomes a situation where you are coming by more frequently and staying for longer periods of time, you may have to apply for and pass a background check.
Q: If my child attends part-time, do I need a set schedule?
A: Yes. We contract per day and not per hour. For example, if your child is scheduled to attend on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, then your child should be in care on these days. We do not substitute contracted days in exchange for drop-in days if a different day of the week is needed.
Q: What is the caregiver to child ratio?
A: The minimum state requirements regarding caregiver to child ratios are:
- Infant 1:4
- Toddler 1:5
- Pre-school 1:10
- School-age 1:15
Discovery Gardens not only meets, but also exceeds these requirements.
Q: Does Discovery Gardens offer drop-in care?
A: Yes. Discovery Gardens does offer drop-in care, though it is important to note that in order for us to maintain proper child/teacher ratios, drop-in availability will vary based on the number of children attending the desired location on the day drop-in care is needed. The fee for drop-in care is due when the drop-in date is scheduled, and ensures that a space is reserved for your child on the day care is needed. The drop-in care fee is non-refundable and non-transferable.
Q: How do you care for infants?
A: Our qualified and experienced teachers work one-on-one with your infant to meet their individual needs and schedule. We keep records of what they do during the day as far as eating, drinking, napping, and diaper changes, and we give you an individualized report at the end of each day.
As every baby is different, regular and open communication between parents and teachers is exceedingly important. Discovery Gardens will work diligently with you to make sure that we are doing everything possible to support you and your baby. We support breastfeeding mothers, and will not feed your baby any foods that you have not introduced first. Discovery Gardens knows that it is difficult to be away from your baby, and makes sure to take lots of pictures so that families can be included in all parts of their baby’s day.
Q: Is there an educational curriculum?
A: Yes! All age groups at Discovery Gardens starting from infancy through school age have a creative curriculum. Discovery Gardens focuses on each individual child’s developmental, emotional and social skills. We conduct an Ages & Stages Questionnaire (ASQ)assessments before the child starts as a part of the enrollment process and an developmental appropriate assessment in the core development domains every six months, and provide these assessments to you to ensure you know how your child is developing in our care.
Our curriculum includes, but is not limited to, school readiness, community based education, after school homework help, and child development.
Q: Are immunizations required?
A: Immunizations are required and must be kept up to date, unless your family is exempted for religious reasons from this requirement.
Q: Can anyone pick up my child?
A: Only the people that you specifically list on your family’s authorized pick-up list are authorized to pick up your child. If an emergency situation arises and someone else who has not been pre-authorized needs to pick up your child, Discovery Gardens must have written consent via a note, or email. Valid photo ID must be presented at the time of pick-up by anyone that is not recognized by Discovery Gardens’ staff.
Q: What are the hours of operation?
A: Discovery Gardens is open Monday through Friday, 7:00 am to 5:30 pm.
Q: How do you keep parents aware of what is going on at the center?
A: We are in constant communication with our parents whether it is via face-to-face conversations, viaemail, via-text message, monthly newsletters, or quality assurance surveys regarding our staff, programs, and facilities. We have Parent Board at each of our locations, with upcoming events, reminders, and closure dates. Teachers hold parent conferences once a year, and daily progress notes are sent home for our infants. Parents are also encouraged to speak with teachers and directors whenever they have questions or concerns. Discovery Gardens also has comment/suggestion boxes at each facility, so families may communicate anonymously if they wish.
Q: What is your inclement weather policy?
A: Discovery Gardens follows the Portland Public School inclement weather schedule. If PPS closes for the day or schedules a late start, Discovery Gardens does the same. In case of inclement weather, please watch the local news or visit the PPS website for information regarding closures and late starts. Discovery Gardens will also provide information via our website calendar, Facebook, followed by a phone call directly to each family.
Q: Do all caregivers have to pass a background check?
A: Yes. All staff at Discovery Gardens are required to pass a background check. This includes teachers, teacher-aids, volunteers, and administrative staff.
Q: Is there a nap routine?
A: All children under the age of 6 are required by the state of Oregon to have a rest period of at least 30 minutes. We will do our best to meet the individual needs of your child. If your child does not take naps, then we will provide quiet activities for them to participate in. Your child will never experience any negative treatment because they do not take a nap. Infants at Discovery Gardens follow their own flexible, individualized schedule. Please contact us for more information regarding infant nap routines.
Q: Do the children have learning activities that take place outside of Discovery Gardens’ facilities?
A: Yes. We have regularly scheduled educational field trips and outdoor activities.
Q: Are the teachers required to do any continued education or training classes?
A: Yes. All of our staff is required to have a background in Early Childhood Education. Discovery Gardens’ staff members each participate in ongoing trainings throughout the year, and surpass state requirements in this area. All of our staff members are also enrolled in the Oregon Registry.
Q: Do you have high turnover in staffing or child enrollment?
A: No. Discovery Gardens was founded in June of 2004. Our program has always maintained high enrollment with very little turnover of children or staff. Discovery Gardens looks to hire only teachers who are seeking long-term careers and have a true passion for working with children. Creating bonds with families is very important to us.
Q: What should I bring to school with my child?
A: Depending on the age of your child, these items may vary. We do have a detailed list posted on the parent bulletin board at each facility, and have included this list in the parent handbook as well. Some of the most common items include diapers, wipes, appropriate clothing for forecasted weather, a change of clothes, and personal comfort items.
Q: What qualifications do you require for your employees?
A: Before employment all potential applicants complete a working interview, so that we can see how they interact with our children, families, and staff. Upon employment each staff member undergoes a 30-day training regimen at our facility. During this time, they learn our various programs & philosophies as well as learning the individuality of each child. Each employee must have a completed background check, CPR up to date, Food Handlers certificate, First Aid & Child Abuse/Neglect prevention certificates. Each year Discovery Gardens staff are required to attend numerous trainings/workshops to stay up to date with enhancing a childs development.
Q: Does my child have to be toilet trained?
A: Discovery Gardens work with children who are ready for “potty” training. Families must supply training pants, extra change of clothing, etc. It is critical for success in the potty training process that parents provide positive support and work with their child(ren) on the potty training process at home as well.
All children not yet attending school will be assisted to the bathroom by staff. Staff will maintain child to staff ratio by bringing groups of children to use the bathroom facilities if necessary. All children and staff will wash their hands after using the bathroom and in between diaper changes. Bathrooms and diaper changing tables are sanitized after being used.
Q: What is QRIS?
A: A Quality Rating & Improvement System that the state uses to assess, improve, and communicate the level of quality care in Early Care & Education and an after school setting.
Q: What is ASQ?
A: Ages & Stages Questionnaire is a screening and monitoring program to help keep track of your child’s development during the first 5 years of your child’s life. The ASQ assessment takes place during the enrollment process and occurs every 6 month. The questionnaire includes questions about your child’s communication, gross motor, fine motor, problem solving, and personal skills. With this questionnaire it helps us identify any concerns that may be occurring and to help provide some activities designed to encourage your child.
Q: Who qualifies for the Grant?
- Child attends program located within Portland city limits
- Family resides within Portland city limits
- Annual income for the family is less than 200% of Federal Poverty Level
- Family must be receiving/have applied for child care subsidy through the State of Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) before they will be considered for the Community Childcare Initiative.
- Families with income up to 185% of federal poverty guidelines are eligible for ERDC and with the additional support of CCI funds will pay no more than 10% of their income for child care
- Families with income 186-200% of federal poverty guidelines are eligible for ERDC and with the support of CCI funds will pay no more than 15% of their income for child care (families must still apply for ERDC to ensure that they are not eligible for ERDC)
- Preference for financial resources will go to children ages 0-3 years, families with multiple children, and families with children who have special needs.
Q: What is the difference between the Columbia Knolls location and the Kenton & Lombard?
A: Our Columbia Knoll location is a separate business from the Lombard and Kenton locations. This means that the childcares have the same owner but operate differently. For an example, the end of the tax year statements are coming from two separate businesses. If you attend Columbia Knoll and one of our other locations at the end of the year you will receive two separate childcare statements. The policies are almost the same and the high standards and mission is across the board the same, however Columbia Knoll works as an Early Head Start and has some areas of practice that are different to meet the Early Head Start and federal guidelines. Part of that is the qualification process of enrollment, please note that not all children at Columbia Knoll are a part of the Early Head Start program, however all children out there receive the same care. We would love to explain more in detail. Please inquire in person with any further questions.