Parent Handbook Hearts and Minds

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Parent Handbook

Hearts and Minds

Early Childhood Program

Westwood Church

13056 Atwood Ave

Omaha, NE 68144



Hearts and Minds Parent Handbook

Westwood Church
Welcome to Hearts and Minds Early Childhood Programs! We are very excited to have your family participate in our program! To ensure a successful experience at Hearts and Minds we ask that you carefully read this handbook in its entirety. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Hearts and Mind Director.


Hearts & Minds is designed to provide a well-balanced readiness experience for each child as they grow to each stage of development. Our joy and love for Jesus shines as we provide a program where children can learn, explore and discover their world in a safe and nurturing environment. Our focus is to provide a stimulating early care and education experience, which promotes each child's social/emotional, physical and cognitive development. Our goal is to support children's desire to be life-long learners in a Christ-centered atmosphere.

Christian Approach

We strongly advocate and support the Christian values of sharing, caring and loving. The Christian aspect of our program is visible daily through our simple prayers, songs and Bible stories. Children are instructed that God created them, Jesus loves them, and they are important and unique because a loving God created them. Your little ones will learn about God from what they experience.  We want to be sure that each child knows that he/she is loved, welcomed and appreciated the moment he/she walks through our doors.  Jesus said, “And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.” (Matthew 18:5). 

State Licensing:

We are licensed and monitored by the State of Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services and the Nebraska State Fire Marshall. Inspections occur annually, and licenses are posted in the program area.

Ages Served:

Mom’s Day Out program is available for children ages six weeks to five years.
Preschool/High Five program is for children ages 3-6 years.
Hours of Operation:

Mom’s Day Out is open from 9am to 3pm Monday through Friday for the fall (school year) session. Children can be registered as little as one half-day per week or as much as every session available. Doors open 5 minutes before the session begins. Morning sessions are 9-11:45am and afternoon sessions are 12:15-3pm.
Preschool 3 yr. olds meet Tue/Thurs 9:00- 11:30am or 12:30-3:00pm

Preschool 4 yr. olds meet Mon/Wed/Fri. 9:00- 11:30am or 12:30-3:00pm

High 5 meets Mon/Tues/Wed/Thurs/Fri. 9:00-11:40am or 12:20-3:00pm
In the summer, Mom’s Day Out is open Mon. and Wed. morning sessions only and Tuesday and Thursday morning and/or afternoon session (9am-3pm). It is an eight week program.
Late Pick-Up Fee:

Please be prompt in picking up your children! A five-minute grace period will be given for pick-up time. If your child is not picked up within the five-minute grace period, a one dollar per minute late fee will be charged from pick up time. (i.e. if you arrive at 3:15 pm for 3:00 pm pick up, you will be charged $15.00) The late fee will be added to the next monthly invoice. If you anticipate a late arrival, please call so that we may alleviate your child’s concern. However, you will be charged the late fee.
Tuition Policy:

We will provide monthly invoices for each child and for each program. Tuition will be automatically deducted with an ACH transaction on the 5th of each month, or the following business day. The ACH Authorization agreement must be signed and returned prior to your child attending the program. The full tuition will be due regardless if the child attends. We follow the Millard School calendar. You are not charged for days when Mom’s Day Out has scheduled days off. You will be charged for unscheduled days (i.e. snow days). Preschool tuition is billed the same monthly fee regardless the amount of scheduled or unscheduled days. There will be a $40 administrative charge if funds are not available for the scheduled withdrawal. All monthly tuition must be paid by the 5th of the month to secure your child’s enrollment in the program.

Your child’s invoice contains our Federal Tax ID Number and is also your tax receipt. Please keep your invoices for your tax records.
If you have any questions regarding your invoice, please see Toni Smith, Associate Director.

We require a 30-day notice if you choose to take your child out of the Hearts and Minds programming. This will allow us time to fill your child’s spot. If the required notice is not given, parents will be charged for the 30-day period.

Make-up/Missed Days:

Mom’s Day Out: Parents should notify MDO if a child will not be attending or will be late on a particular day. In order to be eligible for a make-up day, you must contact the MDO Make Up Coordinator by 8:30am the morning that your child will be absent. You are allotted three (3) make-ups per session (summer or fall)
We will make every effort to accommodate missed days; however, makeups are not guaranteed. Please call 402-333-6120 (ext 28) if your child will be absent or email hearts&
If a scheduled make up day is cancelled or missed, it cannot be rescheduled. No make-ups are available for “snow days”.
Preschool: We appreciate knowing if you child will not be in attendance. Please notify the website at or call 402-333-6120.
Schedule Change:

Mom’s Day Out: If you choose to decrease your child’s days of attending, you will be required to give a 30 day notice or pay $25. If you are adding days to your child’s schedule, there is no charge.

Mom’s Day Out: MDO follows the Millard School calendar beginning the Tuesday after Labor Day. You are not charged for the days we are not in session.
Preschool: Preschool follows the Millard School calendar beginning the Tuesday after Labor Day. Preschool is a billed monthly and therefore, you pay for the whole month even if there is a day off.
Enrollment Information:

New registration forms must be filled-out each session (fall and/or summer). There is a $50 one-time registration fee per child, which is nonrefundable. A child is considered enrolled in the program once we have received:

  • A completed enrollment and emergency contact forms.

  • A paid non-refundable enrollment fee.

  • Have provided a complete updated copy of immunization record. *Immunization records must be kept up-to-date and received within 30 days of enrollment. Please refer to your pediatrician/family doctor for a listing of immunizations required for each age.*

Registration begins mid-February. In-house families are placed first (Westwood families who have attended regulary for at least 6 months, current enrolled Hearts and Minds families). Public registration takes place a week after in-house families and is on a first come, first serve basis.

Health Records: Please make sure we have current immunization records on file (including updates). The health department checks these records very closely. Please let us know if your child has any special needs, impairments, or difficulites in order to best meet your child’s education needs.
Waiting List:

Families who wish to be placed on the waiting list must first fill out a registration form and pay a non-refundable registration fee. Once the opening becomes available, families on our waiting list will be contacted according to the date recorded on the registration form.

Teacher Qualifications:

The Teachers of Hearts and Minds must be experienced in early childhood education and receive orientation and training regarding policies and procedures prior to beginning employment. All teachers are required to attend regular staff training sessions and continuing education hours pertaining to the field of Early Childhood Education and classroom management. All Teachers are screened in several ways. Two personal references are checked. Each teacher’s name is submitted to the Douglas County Sheriff and the Central Child Abuse Registry for a record check. The program staffs above the required Nebraska adult/child ratio and staff are CPR and First Aid certified.

Daily Arrival and Pick Up:

You may use the northeast entrance, southeast or southwest entrance when arriving to Hearts and Minds. Please do not park in the circle drive and do not block traffic. Infants and older children should never be left alone in a parked or running vehicle while dropping off siblings. Children must be escorted into the building, signed in, and taken to their classroom for both arrival and pick up. You are required to sign-in your child on arrival and check out your child when you pick up. Checking in and out will happen at our Front Desk located between the nursery and 2 yr. old room.

Upon arrival you must fill out the sign-in sheet and leave a phone number where you can be reached with any special instructions. This will ensure we have accurate attendance records as a requirement for licensing of our program. Please let us know if someone other than a parent will be picking up your child. Children will only be released to the parent/guardian, or other persons who have been authorized on the enrollment emergency contact information form. All visitors/authorized persons must show photo ID prior to release of the child if they are not known to the administrative staff. Each child is required to sign out at the end of the day.

Rest Time:

Mom’s Day Out: MDO will provide a nap/rest time on a daily basis for children who attend all day or for just the afternoon session. Your child does not have to sleep, but will be expected to rest quietly and not disturb other children. Please bring a small blanket, pillow, stuffed animal, or whatever item will help comfort your child.
For those children in the nursery, we will follow the nap schedule you typically do at home so there is consistency in your child’s day. This will be communicated to the teachers.
Healthy Bodies:

We realize we cannot entirely prevent exposure to childhood illnesses. If we all work together by adhering to the guidelines below, we will be able to keep all children healthier. Please keep your child home if he/she has one or more of these symptoms:

  • A fever of 100 degrees or more (in the last 24 hours)

  • Vomiting or diarrhea within the last 24 hours

  • A continuous or severe cough

  • Red or mattering eyes indicating possible infection

  • Drainage from a sore

  • On an antibiotic medication for less than 24 hours for an infection

  • A fresh cold with sneezing, a nose that requires frequent wiping, a thick cloudy type of drainage

The only exceptions to the above will be a written doctor’s note stating the child is not communicable. We will notify you and expect you to pick up your child if he/she exhibits any of the above symptoms.

If your child needs to take any medication during program hours, the parent must complete a medicine permission slip with written permission. Please provide medicine to program staff in the original bottle clearly labeled with the medicine name, dosage and time to be given. Staff will document the dosages and time that the medication was given to the child. Medication will be stored in a place that is inaccessible to children.

If your child receives a serious injury during Hearts and Minds hours, we will call you immediately. You will be given an accident report to sign. It will describe in detail how the accident occurred and what steps were taken afterwards. We have CPR/1st Aid certified employees on staff.

What not to bring:

Due to the variety of ages in the program please take note of the following items and DO NOT send them with your child: money (especially coins), gum, balloons, candy and small toys (even in pockets). Please try to discourage your child from bringing toys from home. If they do bring something to class, please inform them it may be put in your child’s cubby for “safe keeping”. A security item such as a blanket or stuffed animal that is needed for nap/quiet time is welcome. We want your child to feel comfortable and safe.

Snow Day/Bad Weather Closings:

If the Millard schools are closed because of inclement weather, Hearts and Minds will also be closed. We cannot offer make-up days for these days. Also, you will be charged for snow days. If weather conditions develop during the day and we deem it necessary to close, we will notify the parents. In the event of a tornado warning we will go to a safe area of the building as instructed by the Fire Marshall. DO NOT attempt to phone us during a tornado warning, as we will not be in our areas. All staff has been trained on tornado and fire procedures and we will do our best to keep your child safe.

Emergency Procedures:

If an emergency arises, a qualified staff administers first aid care, calls the parent, and if necessary, emergency medical personnel. Staff will accompany the child to the nearest hospital where emergency treatment is administered (or what your registration form advised). The staff will remain with the child until the parent arrives.

In the event neither parent can be reached, the child’s physician will be contacted. It is essential for parents to provide information on where you can be reached, physician name and phone number, and updated emergency contacts. An incident report is kept in the child’s file, and a copy given to the parent within 24 hours of any injury.
Safety and Security: Your child’s safety is a top priority at Hearts and Minds. The doors to our facility remain locked throughout the day. Children must be signed in and out upon arrival and departure. Children may be released only to those persons authorized in writing by the parent/guardian. Identification will be required when someone other than the parent or guardian will be picking up your child.
Child Abuse and Neglect Procedure:

All staff are mandated reporters of child abuse and neglect. They are required by law to report suspected abuse and neglect.

Child/Parent Separation Anxiety:

We realize separating from Mom/Dad can be difficult. Separation can be stressful for both the parent and the child, especially in the early days. Please help us to make this time less stressful by adhering to the following guidelines:

  • Please do not attempt to sneak out without saying goodbye to your child.

  • Bring your child to the door, reassure them you will return later, hug/kiss them.

  • As difficult as it may be, make your good-bye short and sweet, even if your child is crying. The longer you prolong your good-byes, the more upset children will become.

  • Teachers are trained to handle these difficult, but normal occurrences. The teacher will comfort your child, guide them into an activity or hold them until they quiet down. Ninety percent of the time, your child will have stopped crying before you get out of the parking lot of the facility.

  • Do not linger around after you have said goodbye, this can confuse your child and prolong crying.

Behavior Management and Discipline:

All teachers at Hearts and Minds manage behavior in their classrooms in a non-punitive, age appropriate manner. All staff receive ongoing training in the areas of discipline and behavior management. They are trained in the process of positive discipline, which instructs children as to what they should do rather than telling them what not to do. For example "We walk inside the building" rather than "No running".

Toddlers will begin to learn self-control by observing the natural consequences of their behavior. Teachers will quickly intervene if a problem does occur and redirect the child to a more appropriate activity. Language is utilized to help Toddlers begin to identify their feelings and learn to deal with them in a socially acceptable manner.

Preschoolers will be encouraged to learn problem-solving skills and become self- correcting. They will be given the opportunity to choose alternatives that will enable them to participate in a socially acceptable manner without reinforcing their negative behavior. For example, if a child is having difficulty sitting quietly during a story, he/she will be asked to do a puzzle or draw a picture until they feel they are ready to rejoin the group. Teachers will assist in pointing out logical consequences to both positive and negative behavior.

Teachers will use positive enforcement while supervising children, encouraging them to cooperate and continue using appropriate behaviors. Children will be redirected to an alternate activity if their behavior continues to be inappropriate. An example is when a child is doing something that could hurt others, themselves, or destroying property and choosing not to use problem-solving techniques. Teachers will continue to be an active listener and support the child with conflict resolution. Parents will be notified of the behavior management strategies used and receive an incident report. Individual behavior management plans may be implemented. If a child's behavior is unmanageable within a group setting, parents will be consulted and an individual behavior plan implemented.

No child shall be subject to physical corporal punishment, humiliated, frightened, verbally abused, or denied food, rest or bathroom facilities. Children will never be disciplined for toileting accidents, sleep habits, or food consumption. Any violation of this discipline policy should be reported to the Director immediately. All staff employed Hearts and Minds are selected with the greatest of care. All staff meet the Nebraska State Office of Children and Family Services qualifications.

Parent grievances, questions, concerns:

At Hearts and Minds we know the best program will only get better if there is open communication between the staff and parents. We encourage you to ask questions and share your ideas and concerns with us. We welcome your input and are committed to making your child’s time with us an enjoyable and enriching experience. Please feel free to discuss any concerns you have with your child’s teacher or the Director.

It may not be possible for you to have a long conversation with your child’s teacher at drop off or pick up times as the teachers are responsible for supervising all of the children in their care. If you have a special concern, you can always reach the Director to arrange a time.

Hearts and Minds reserves the right to discontinue service to a family if financial commitments are not met or if it becomes apparent that the program is not equipped to meet the psychological or developmental needs of the child. However, the Director will make every effort to resolve any problems prior to termination. There will be continual communication between parent and teacher/Director before making the decision. We believe in helping the child correct the behavior and help him/her succeed. We will make every attempt reasonable to help resolve the issue before termination. Ample notification will be given to find alternative care.

Children may be suspended or terminated from the Hearts and Minds program for reasons listed below:

  1. Your child has medical or behavioral needs that cannot be adequately met by our program. Or, your child requires supervision that is beyond the abilities of our staff and program ratios. For example, a child who continually places themselves, other children, or staff at risk of physical harm.

  2. Non-compliance with Hearts and Minds policies and procedures listed in the Program handbook (repeated late payments, paying with insufficient funds, consistent not picking up your child after designated pick-up times, constant friction or disagreement over care).

  1. Provider may terminate at will.

Verbal expression of concerns, written evaluation of issues, and parent conferences will precede suspension.

Potty Training:

Mom’s Day Out: Let us know when you start working with your child to potty train. Please send extra clothes in case of accidents. Talk with your child’s teacher to establish a plan for your child’s training. We will do our best to remain consistent with what you are doing at home. We ask that you bring extra sets of underwear and clothes each day your child is in training.
Preschool: It is a requirement that your child is potty trained in order to attend preschool. Please communicate with the teachers if this is a concern.

The playground is an extention of the classroom. Weather permitting, we will be outside. Please have your children bring a coat, sweatshirt, mittens, hat, for whatever type of weather. In general, durable clothing that can withstand the energetic activity of young children is the best bet.

We ask that you leave a complete set of extra clothing, including socks, at all times. Sometimes the playground equipment is wet or they splash in a puddle. Also, if a child is newly toilet trained, it is helpful to keep an extra set of underwear/clothing on hand. We expect to do a good deal of painting and some messy projects, so we suggest clothing that can wash easily. This way your chld can enjoy the program thoroughly.
PLEASE LABEL ALL CLOTHING WITH YOUR CHILD’S NAME. We are not responsible for lost or damaged articles.

Mom’s Day Out: We provide a healthy snack during both the morning and afternoon session. Please inform us if your child has any dietary restrictions. Chocolate or candy items will be served rarely on special occasions. If your child will be attending MDO the entire day, or will be attending preschool after or before MDO, you will need to provide a lunch for them (we will provide milk to drink). A cooler is available for lunches. Because we are a licensed facility, the Department of Social Services has advised us that all children should have a balanced lunch, which would include foods from all four-food groups. However, we respect your judgment as to what foods you know your child will eat. We do encourage the children to save dessert for last.
Preschool: We provide a healthy snack during both the morning and afternoon session. Please inform us if your child has any dietary restrictions. Chocolate or candy items will be served rarely on special occasions.

Mom’s Day Out: We love to celebrate birthdays and will strive to make this day special in your child’s life. You are welcome to bring a special snack for your child to share if you desire. We suggest cookies or fruit snacks (nothing with peanuts or peanut oil, please). The Director can give you the enrollment number for the day your child attends.
Preschool: Your child is invited to share a birthday treat on his/her birthday or another date on your choice (half birthday). A sign up calendar is available in your classroom or you may talk to the teacher about scheduling a date to celebrate yoru child’s birthday. Please remember we cannot serve treats with peanuts or peanut butter.

At Hearts and Minds we know the best program will only get better if there is open communication between the staff and parents. We encourage you to ask questions and share your ideas and concerns with us. We welcome your input and are committed to making your child’s time with us an enjoyable and enriching experience.

Our information boards share highlights of what we did that day. These are located by each room. Parent website and emails are another way we keep you informed of upcoming events or information. Please check the boards, Parent website and your emails regularly.

We welcome any donations of unscented baby wipes, tissues and healthy boxed snacks.

Deb Schuiteman

Hearts and Minds Director

402-333-6120 (ext 28)


Jenn Van Cleve

Associate Director of Curriculum/Ministry Care

402-333-6120 (ext. 23)


Toni Smith

Associate Director of Caregiving/Tuition

402-333-6120 (ext. 30)


Front Desk Manager

402-333-6120 (ext. 29)

email: hearts&

Westwood Church (owner of Hearts and Minds)

Scott Christiansen (licensee of Hearts and Minds)

13056 Atwood Ave

Omaha, NE 68144


Scott Christiansen, Senior Pastor

Michelle Goodrich, Director of Children’s Ministries

Quinn Tirrel, Associate Paster for High School and Adult Ministries

Todd Laird, Director of Worship Arts

Kara and Aaron Willems, Directors of Middle School Ministries

Connie Wismer, Office Manager

State of Nebraska Offices


Questions or concerns regarding State regulations


Child Abuse Hotline


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