Parent Handbook - Updated July 2020

All policies contained within this Parent Handbook and under the Programs tab are secondary to the COVID protocols listed on the Home page.


Dear Families:

Welcome to Heartland Child Development! We are pleased you have chosen to enroll your child ... we are state licensed, QRS rated and non-profit.

Our directors bring well over 50 years combined experience in the field of child development.  Our decision to establish Heartland is the reflection of our dedication to children, families and professional staff.

We are professional and experienced … yet we want you and your child to feel at home here … and your experience with us a rewarding one.  If at any time you have concerns, suggestions, ideas, or just want to stop in and visit … please do so!  Don’t hesitate … that’s what we are here for.  Again, welcome to the Heartland.


Merilee Mescher, CDA, NAC
Director - Administration     
Tonya Jensen, CDA , NAC
Director - Curriculum


To provide an environment that enhances the well being, development and advancement of both children and professional staff.


Nothing is more important than an experienced, educated, well-trained staff dedicated to the field of child development.  Our directors have a vast amount of experience.  Our staff is carefully selected with regards to training, education, commitment to children and experience.

All of our staff meet the state guidelines of continuing education, CPR, first aid, State of Iowa Essentials training in mandatory reporting of child abuse, universal precautions, etc. All staff have been finger printed and have had a criminal history background check.  Additionally, we strive to hire only those who already have their degree, national credentials, paraeducator's license or are in the process of achieving it to teach.  We may hire interns/assistants/substitutes to work with our regular, full-time faculty.  Interns are typically students who are planning a career in a related field and are working to gain experience.

Because Heartland’s mission statement includes the development and enhancement of both children and staff  … we believe by hiring quality faculty and providing them with continuing education, above and beyond what the state requires, better than average pay in the field, and benefits we will, in turn, have better programming for your child.

Heartland regularly awards scholarships to fund adults entering/continuing their studies in child development/early childhood education.


Heartland Child Development is dedicated to providing quality child development programs to children through the following:  prek/preschool  (year round), toddlers (year round), nursery (year round) and school age summer day camp (June – August).

To Register:  January is reserved for current familes to re-enroll.  February begins open entrollment for the public.  Enrollment packets and registration fee must be submitted prior to actual attendance  …  including physicals and immunization record (submitted on Iowa Department of Public Health form).  Packets are available by contacting Heartland at (712) 256-1877 or via our website:  Space is limited in all programs.

Children must be personally signed in and out each day.  Children may only be signed out by authorized individuals. If there are individuals who have restricted contact with your child and may NOT pick up, copies of legal documents must be provided, i.e. restraining orders, custody papers.


Parents, grandparents, special family or friends are welcome to visit / participate / interact with your own child during regular hours of operation.   You are welcome to have lunch with your child, attend a field trip with your child, volunteer for administrative / fund raising duties, etc.  One on one interactions with enrolled children, excluding your own child, is prohibited without a background check.

We request parents make drop off and pick up procedures brief – approximately 5 minutes maximum.  Lingering at drop off can increase tension for your child.  Lingering at pick up can be disruptive to classroom procedures and your own child’s behavior.

Field Trips

Various field trips will be conducted in all programs.  Information will be provided as trips are scheduled/confirmed.  A general field trip permission slip is provided in the enrollment packet.  Forms of transportation:  walking, school bus, public transportation.

We welcome parents / grandparents / special family friends on field trips.  Please know during the field trip, your responsibility is restricted to just your child.  You will not be accountable for any other child(ren).  During the field trip, and until you surrender your child to a Heartland staff member at the duration of the field trip, you will be accountable for your child's safety and behavior.


Christmas programs will be held prior to winter break.  Info will be provided in the December newsletter.

Graduation ceremony will be held in mid-May for students going on to kindergarten in the fall.  Info will be provided in the May newsletter.

Remittance and Late Fees

Payments are to be placed in payment box on scheduled due date (Important: refer to specific program information for details regarding the program your child is enrolled in. This information is listed under "Programs" on this website.)  Payments not made by that due date are subject to late fees of $15 per week.  Outstanding balances over 14 days are subject to dismissal from the program and collection in small claims court.

An automatic $15 late fee will be charged for any child picked up after 5:30.  An additional $1 per minute will begin accumulating at 5:40 p.m.  Late fee will be due with next tuition payment. See more detailed late pick up information under Drop Off and Pick Up.

Within the resources of Heartland Child Development, financial assistance is available to qualifying applicants.  Financial assistance is a 5% - 35% discount and is based on household size, household income and need for care.


A child can not attend Heartland when they have any communicable illness.  This is for the protection of your child, other children and staff.  Fever, discolored nasal discharge, undiagnosed/contagious rashes, lice, vomiting, severe diarrhea, etc. are illnesses that should be dealt with at home for the comfort of your child.  Children must be fever free without medication for 24 hours to return.  Health Department guidelines are used to determine appropriate attendance for specific illnesses.  Children are observed upon arrival and throughout the day for illness.

Should your child become ill during the course of the day, the parent/designated emergency contact person (if parent is not available) will be contacted for immediate pick up.

If your child is going to be late or absent for any reason, we appreciate contact via phone or the communication app by 10:30 a.m. It is helpful to us in our planning for the day.

Nap Blankets/Mat Coverings

Nap time blankets, mats and coverings are to be provided by families (with the exception of Nursery).

If you choose a vinyl-type mat for nap, it must be covered with a cloth material (i.e. pillow case).  Nap time blankets and mat coverings are scheduled to be taken home on your child’s last day of attendance each week to be laundered.  Please be sure to return all materials on the first day of attendance the following week.

If applicable, please be sure to place the cloth covering back on your child’s vinyl mat so that it is ready for nap time after laundering.  This is a task that is too difficult for children to accomplish on their own and it is time prohibitive for teachers to replace cover for each individual child.


All individuals participate at their own risk.

Should an accident occur while participating in Heartland programming, a report will be completed. Parents are required to sign the report at pick up. Parents will receive a copy and one will be kept on file. Parents are responsible for any care sought and the cost.

Participants agree to indemnify and hold harmless Heartland Child Development, their officers, Board members and employees, and defend against all claims brought or actions filed, for any and all claims, suits, actions, debts, damages, costs, charges and expenses - including court costs and attorney's fees - and against all liability, losses and damages an any nature whatsoever, including but not limited to property damage and personal injury, including death resulting at any time there from, arising from any alleged acts of negligence, either active or passive, of the participant or any person acting on his/her behalf arising from the activities which are subject to the signed Enrollment Information packet and information contained in this Handbook.

Dismissal Policy

Heartland strives to provide the best care and learning environment for all enrolled children. We do, however, realize that as a private school we may not have all the resources necessary to best address extraordinary learning needs / specialized services. The administration may determine, after open communication and with the family, that faculty may require additional assistance through outside services and / or determine that Heartland is not the program in which the best interest(s) of the child can be served, therefore, the child may be dismissed from programming.

Heartland also strives to keep parents well informed regarding the activities, behaviors, education, etc. offered to enrolled children. In the event that parents have questions or concerns regarding specific programs or activities, they should discuss their questions and concerns with their child’s teacher and / or the administration. If a parent is seriously dissatisfied with an aspect of the school's programs or activities, they may wish to exercise their option of choosing another school for their child or children with a two-week paid notice. If serious dissatisfaction results in continued agitation on the part of parents, the administration will assess the impact of such agitation, and after discussion of the matter with the said parents, Heartland may exercise the school's prerogative to have a family withdraw their child from enrollment.

Children may also be discharged if tuition is outstanding over 14 days. Balances are still due regardless of dismissal and are subject to collection by small claims court.

Heartland will not tolerate discrimination of any kind against it's families. Displaying intolerance towards another family will result in dismissal from the program.

Toys from Home

Other than child's special naptime buddy or show & tell, children should not bring toys from home.

Lost and Found

Please check your child’s designated space each day to make sure no belongings are left behind.  Neither Heartland Child Development nor its staff is responsible for missing items.  Unclaimed items will be donated to charity at the end of the program.

Contacts and Standards

Should you have questions or concerns, please contact us at any time here at Heartland Child Development.  We will be pleased to visit with you … your input is valuable to our future planning. General parent information, calendars, newsletters are posted on the bulletin board near the sign in/out table, as well as on Heartland's website:  You can also email us at:

We pride ourselves in strictly adhering to current State of Iowa guidelines for centers.  Should you need further information on these regulations, a copy of the standards is available upon request from a director or contacts the Department of Human Services, 417 East Kanesville Boulevard, Council Bluffs, IA.

Biting/Hitting/Pinching/Physical Behavior Policies

It is very common for children birth to five years to “communicate” physically … which may include but not be limited to biting, hitting, kicking, pinching, etc. Understanding these developmental stages and the needs of children can prevent such behaviors.

Teachers’ first priority is to be proactive in providing caring relationships and educationally supportive environments that prevent challenging behaviors. These supportive environments include schedules, activities, routines, lesson plans and transitions to positively support individual children and the classroom population.

Additionally, teachers will make every effort to anticipate when a physical behavior may occur. Teachers may practice observing and recording behaviors/signs when a child might be on the verge of biting/hitting/etc.

When/if a physical behavior issued occurs, the following steps will be implemented:

If a classroom has ongoing physical behavior issues, Heartland will conduct an informal observation to determine that an appropriate, supportive environment is being provided by teachers. If the environment is determined to be appropriate, individual student behavior will be assessed. Assistance from outside supports may be requested for staff and/or children.

Non-Profit Status

Heartland Child Development is a nonprofit 501 (3) (c) organization as designated by the I.R.S. and accepts monatary and in-kind donations.  Tax receipts will be provided.


Policies and procedures listed previously are subject to change at anytime with two weeks written notice.


See "Programs" tabs for closing information specific to your child's class, i.e. holidays, inclement weather, conferences, etc.

As a reminder, full tuition is due regardless of attendance/closings unless otherwise noted in the "Programs" section.

Tax Statements

Tax statements are available only upon request. Families must contact Heartland to receive a statement and they are available January through April each year. Families may also track payments on their own payments using cancelled checks or hand-written cash receipts provided by Heartland. Heartland’s federal tax identification number is 81-0548086.


Photos taken by Heartland Child Development are sometimes published on Heartland’s website or Facebook page. Heartland does NOT identify students by name. Permission will not be secured for these publications. If photos are submitted to the newspaper or are taken by newspaper staff for publication with identification, permission will secured by parent/guardian prior to publication.


Heartland Child Development encourages families and friends to “LIKE” Heartland’s Facebook page.  Please know our faculty is prohibited from becoming “friends” with currently enrolled families / parents unless that relationship existed prior to enrollment.


- Please be advised:  A sex offender who has been convicted of a sex offense against a minor (even if the sex offender is a parent, guardian, or custodian) who is required to register with the Iowa sex offender registry (Iowa Code 692A):   shall not operate, manage, be employed by, or act as a contractor or volunteer at a child care center; shall not be on the property of the child care center without written permission of the center director, except for the time reasonably necessary to transport the offender’s own minor child or ward to and from the center;the center director is not obligated to provide written permission and must consult with their DHS licensing consultant first; if written permission is granted, it shall include the conditions under which the sex offender may be present including: precise location in center where offender may be present, the reason for offender’s presence at the facility, duration of the offender’s presence, description of how the center staff will supervise the sex offender to ensure offender is not alone with a child, and the written permission shall be signed and dated by the director and offender and kept on file for review by the center licensing consultant.

Student Numbers / Classrooms

Heartland Child Development is licensed by the State of Iowa Department of Human Services for 90 children on the premises at one time 0 - 12 years old. Heartland classrooms include:

Nursery: State maximum teacher to child ratio 1:4
  Average age 6 weeks - 12 months
  Typically 6 infants
Toddler: State maximum teacher to child ratio 1:4
  Average age 12 - 24 months
  Typically 8 toddlers
Beginning Preschool:  State maximum teacher to child ratio 1:6
  Average age 24 - 36 months
  Typically 12 students
Preschool: State maximum teacher to child ratio 1:8
  Average age 3 - 4 years
  Typically 16 students
Pre Kindergarten: State maximum teacher to child ratio 1:12
  Average age 4 - 5 years
  Typically 22 students
Summer Kindergarten / School Age: State maximum teacher to child ratio 1:15
  Average age 5 - 12 years
  Typically 22 - 25 students

Parent Handbook Availability

Parent Handbook is available online at or in printed form upon request.

If special assistance is required to interpret the Parent Handbook (reading assistance, translations, internet access, etc.)  please contact Heartland Child Development.

Emergency Protocol

Heartland Child Development has specific procedures for a variety of emergency scenarios including (not limited to):  tornado, fire, intruders, building evacuations, etc.

Typically, a posting is placed on the entrance doors directing families in the event of emergency.

If the building is evacuated for fire (and weather permitting) faculty and children will evacuate to the parking lot southeast of our school building (church / funeral home parking lot on the corner of South 7th Street and First Avenue).  If extended evacuation / inclement weather precludes outside holding, Heartland will shelter in place at St. John’s Lutheran Church (one block south of our school at the corner of South 7th Street and Willow Avenue).

What Should My Child Wear to School?

Please send your child to school in comfortable play clothes and shoes.  Please do not send them in items you are concerned about damage or stains.  Children are here to play and experience their environment.  If they are concerned about their clothing / parents getting upset, they may be limiting themselves from potential exploration.

Please send them in clothing appropriate for an entire day.  It is easy to take off / add a jacket or sweater to adapt to weather conditions, but teachers do not have time dress / re-dress children in new outfits throughout the day.

Please do not send children with bows, jewelry, etc. that you are concerned about getting lost.

Please allow the teachers to guide, nurture and educate … not monitor clothing and shoes which limits valuable classroom time.

Drop Off and Pick Up

Children must be signed in and out each day.  Your child will have his / her own personal sign in sheet in the entryway.  Children may only be picked up those individuals you have previously authorized in his / her paperwork.  (Photo identification may be required if faculty does not recognize the individual picking up.)

Please only share the security code with those individuals who pick up on a regular basis.  Otherwise, those arriving only occasionally to pick up can ring the bell and a faculty member will greet them at the door.

We request parents make drop off and pick up procedures brief – approximately 5 minutes maximum.  Lingering at drop off can increase tension for your child.  Lingering at pick up can be disruptive to classroom procedures and your own child’s behavior.

Heartland closes at 5:30 p.m. Please arrive by AT LEAST 5:25 to allow time to visit with faculty, gather your child’s belongings and exit by 5:30. Please respect that faculty members have school / family activities / professional meetings / other jobs that they need to attend to. An automatic $15 late fee will be charged for any child picked up after 5:30. An additional $1 per minute will begin accumulating at 5:40 p.m. Late fee will be due with next tuition payment. The late fee will be strictly enforced. This is a penalty fee … not a service. Families who pick up consistently late (3 or more times in a program period) will be asked to withdraw from Heartland.

Parent Orientation

We offer a Parent Orientation each year just prior to school starting.  Date is noted on the Registration Form and a confirmation letter with date is sent out mid-summer.  This helps acclimate new and returning families to Heartland policies and procedures.

Individual tours / appointments are available prior to registration.  Please contact Heartland via email at or at (712) 256-1877 to schedule a personal visit.


Heartland participates in the federal child/adult care food program.  It is designed to provide improved nutrition for all praticipants and to promote lifelong healthy eating and physical activity habits.  In order to implement this program, guidelines require an income eligibility application form.  The form is included with the enrollment packet.  All information collected is confidential and used solely for the purpose of the food program.

All Programs (excluding Nursery):