FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why Is Early Childhood Education Important?
The benefits of high-quality early childhood education are irrefutable. Early childhood education results in successful students, responsible adults, and stronger communities. Visit First Light to learn more on early childhood education’s measurable effect on test scores, classroom productivity, tax-dollar savings, high school graduation, crime, special education placement, teen pregnancy, and unemployment.
When can I sign up?
Right now! Take the following steps right here on our website:
Review the Family Handbook.
Review the tuition and fees schedule.
Download and complete the fillable Application Form. Fax, email or mail your signed form to our center. A First Light staff member will then contact you to collect the $75 fee and provide you with access to the complete Enrollment Packet to complete prior to your child's first day.
What forms of payment do you accept?
Acceptable payment methods include Automated Clearing House (ACH) and credit cards. First Light does not accept cash or checks. Tuition and fees are paid in advance of service through Tuition Express.
Do you accept subsidies?
Yes, if you are eligible to receive a Department of Family Services Child Care subsidy, please contact our center to enroll your child(ren).
What Is TANF?
The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program is housed under the Wyoming Department of Education. First Light Children’s Center is the only TANF Preschool grant recipient in Sheridan. Starting this fall, over $150,000 is available to help provide preschool for local underserved children who are at risk due to family income that falls at or below 185% of the federal poverty level.
Do I Qualify For TANF?
Children must be 3 years old by September 15th to be eligible for the reduced TANF tuition rates at First Light Children’s Center. A staff member can help determine your eligibility for the TANF rates through a simple and confidential analysis over the phone or in person. An income eligibility table is also available here. TANF students will be accepted on a first-come first-serve basis. Apply today as positions are limited!
Can I apply for financial aid?
Yes, First Light Children's Center offers partial financial aid, as funds are available, to families whose children have been accepted and can demonstrate need for financial assistance, but do not qualify to receive state funds. Priority will be given to students registered in a full time programs. Visit the Financial Aid page to apply today.
How do your hourly rates compare with other centers in Sheridan?
First Light is taking a revolutionary approach to early education in our community and we have not found a comparable program. All students over the age of 6 months receive 5.0 instructional hours each day in our full-time programs. Daycare/childcare is only provided for newborns and during our extended care programs in the early AM and late PM timeslots.
While this caliber of education does come at a cost, you may be surprised at just how well our rates compare. Excluding food, the cost per hour of education and care in our center ranges from $3.50 to $4.64 for Full Day and Extended Care programs. The average hourly rate for childcare in Sheridan County is $3.39.
How flexible are First Light programs?
First Light offers full-day, half-day, full-time, part-time, Morning Glory, and after-school enrichment programs for children ages 6 weeks to 10 years, making our offerings highly flexible to meet the unique needs of your family.
Why do I have to pay for days/hours my child is not in the center?
First Light Children's Center is a "pay for the slot" facility and requires payment in advance of service.
Why can't I pack my child's meals to save money?
Participation in our meal program ensures the nutritional intake of our students and provides opportunities to learn and practice healthy eating patterns that should be followed throughout adulthood. Our menus are created by the collaborative efforts of a chef and PhD food scientist. Investing in your child's health by forming good eating habits at an early age will pay dividends for the rest of his/her life.
What does NAEYC accreditation mean?
First Light is dedicated to bringing your family the highest professional standards in early care and education and is working toward National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) accreditation. NAEYC is dedicated to improving the well-being of all young children, with particular focus on the quality of educational and developmental services for all children from birth through age 8. NAEYC accreditation is the industry's most respected rating and demands that programs demonstrate consistent quality and meet high standards. Parents looking for a high-quality program for their young child are encouraged to search for an NAEYC-Accredited program. Currently there is only one NAEYC accredited program in Sheridan. Achieving accreditation takes at least three years and requires a significant investment from First Light to meet the rigorous standards set forth by NAEYC, which are above and beyond those of the State of Wyoming in many cases.
Why does First Light have a Family Resource Coordinator (FRC)?
First Light's vision is a community of healthy families. The FRC position is integral to us accomplishing this vision. We understand that issues a child faces outside our center may impede his/her ability to become Kindergarten-ready. The FRC is therefore positioned to direct a child and his/her family to the community resources available to help remove any barriers to success in school and life.
What does non-denominational values-based mean?
First Light believes all children are unique and valuable. Operating with love, respect, dignity, compassion, grace, integrity, honesty and humanity is essential to the success of First Light Children's Center. Our staff's conduct and behaviors will model these values to children at our center. Our goal is to provide a safe place where children can learn and grow physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually and socially at their own pace. The development of strong self-worth and character building are also major goals. Children will be taught to respect each other, adults and property.
Do children go outside every day?
The First Light playground is considered an extension of the classroom. In addition to running, jumping and climbing, teachers plan nature walks, picnics and other learning opportunities. Weather permitting, children play outside every day!
What security measures are taken when releasing children?
First Light has a computerized sign-in / sign-out log and password procedures. A child may be released to an alternate caregiver who is on the approved list provided by parents and presents picture identification.
What is the philosophy on discipline?
Discipline, defined as "training to act in accordance with rules," is not to be confused with punishment. We do not use punishment. Discipline is used as an opportunity to redirect and teach more appropriate behaviors. We never strike children, handle them roughly, or shout, nor do we use "time out" as a punishment. Our program has a specific policy regarding discipline. All employees are trained on our problem-solving approach to discipline.
Are teachers allowed to play with the children?
Absolutely! It is critical to children's social development to see adults play. This serves a dual role - letting children know that people of all ages can and do play and helping them grow as players through their modeling new roles and possibilities. However, it is still important to maintain the teacher role and perspective by setting boundaries.
When do you expect children to be toilet trained?
Children < 3 years old enrolled in our full day programs are not required to be toilet trained. In each room detailed instructions for changing diapers will be posted and followed by all adults in the program. A specific plan of toilet training will be worked out with the parents when it is time for a child to transition out of diapers. This will be posted discreetly out of sight inside a cabinet door and followed consistently by everyone working in that area. Toilet training is a prerequisite for admission into the Morning Glory program for all ages.
What do you do when a child has an "accident?"
Children > 3 years old enrolled in our full day programs are expected to be toilet trained and their classrooms are not set up with changing tables. However, it is very typical of preschool children, especially the younger ones, to have "accidents" or regress a little due to stress, excitement, being too busy to notice or stop, or other situations that may accompany being in group care. It is very important that the child not be punished or shamed for this. It shall be handled carefully and tactfully to avoid embarrassment for the child.
What is your position on Kindergarten readiness?
Kindergarten readiness is a top priority for all our staff. First Light has committed the resources necessary to work with the local school districts to design programs that will ensure we reach our goal of 100% Kindergarten readiness in our graduates. All children will be provided the opportunities they need to learn and grow academically and developmentally so they will be prepared to enter Kindergarten and life. First Light will quantify and report their ability to meet this important center goal.
Will my infant be interacted with or just left in a crib or bouncy chair?
Infants will be cared for in such a way that parents feel confident each time they leave the building. In addition to meeting the physical needs of the very young children, First Light caregivers will behave as responsive professionals, concerned about all aspects of a child's development. By using the clearly defined practices of the HighScope® Infant-Toddler Curriculum©, caregivers develop close, supportive relationships with the children in their care. Caregivers will support children's natural desire to be active learners by consciously considering their social and emotional, physical, cognitive and sociolinguistic needs. Learning and development are to be anchored by long-term, trusting relationships with caregivers who support the children as they play. Therefore, caregivers will be interacting with infants utilizing every opportunity to nurture and teach new skills. Cribs will be used for napping.
What will I see children doing during the day?
Children and teachers engage together in learning activities throughout the day. Children work and play individually and in groups – accessing materials, investigating their interests, and exploring and testing out ideas. Children contribute to the classroom community in multiple ways, including caring for materials, participating in routines, and supporting and caring for one another.
Do the children just play all day?
Our teachers carefully plan the environment and daily activities so that children are offered rich experiences and multiple opportunities for discovery, interaction, and growth. Teachers offer engaging and meaningful learning activities as part of every routine during the day. Our full day programs offer 5.0 instructional hours daily to students ages 6 months and up. Morning Glory students receive 3.0 instructional hours each day they are in the center.
How do you share information about children's learning with parents?
Our teachers meet formally with parents each semester to discuss their child's learning and to celebrate his or her progress at school. Parents will receive a written report of their child's progress, will have the opportunity to review their child's portfolio, and will work with the teacher to create learning goals specific to their child. In addition to the formal conferences, teachers will share important information with parents through blogs, newsletters, and e-mails throughout the year. Parents are encouraged to view portfolios or discuss their child's progress or any concerns they may have at any time.
What if my child does not nap well at First Light?
Children need some quiet rest during the day. If children cannot sleep during the scheduled nap time, rest or a quiet activity may be offered.
Who administers medication?
Only staff trained in medication administration will administer medications as outlined in the Wyoming state regulations.