Frequently Asked Questions

All families of newly enrolled children receive the Palo Alto College Ray Ellison Family Center (REFC) Parent Handbook to acquaint families with the policies and procedures of the center. Some procedures are specific to Palo Alto College, while others are mandated by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (TDFPS) and National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Most questions are answered or addressed in the handbook.

However, to assist in finding some answers quickly, we have developed these answers to Frequently Asked Questions. If more information is required, please call to speak with the REFC Coordinator or Administrative Assistant Specialist.


How are staff qualified and trained?
At the REFC, we strive to have one (1) Child Development Specialist and one (1) Assistant Child Development Specialist in each classroom. Child Development Specialists (CDS) have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Assistant Child Development Specialists (ACDS) have at least their Child Development Associate Certificate. All CDS and ACDS have a current first aid and CPR certification. All Work study students who are with the children have received an eight-hour basic training class as mandated by TDFPS. 

How does staff stay current in appropriate practice with children?
Each staff member completes a minimum of 30 hours per year of professional development training covering a wide variety of topics such as child growth and development, guidance and discipline, and emergency preparedness.


How often will I be billed?
Billing is done on a weekly basis and must be paid in advance of services being provided.

Where do I pay my bill?
Bills must be paid at the Palo Alto College business office or online at the Virtual Business Office. One copy must be returned to the REFC for the account to be properly credited.

Do I pay for days my child is absent due to illness?
Yes, per the parent handbook.

Do I pay for holidays?
There are no discounts for days missed due to illness, absences, vacation, or the REFC being closed for holidays, teacher in-service days, work days, or emergencies.

Will the REFC accept payment from a subsidizing agency, such as CCDS?
Yes. Please see the front desk about arranging the paper work for subsidies.


Do I have to be a Palo Alto College student to be eligible?
No, but students have priority when openings occur.

Do I have to re-register each semester to keep my child's place?
A registration fee per child of $40 is due upon enrollment each semester (Fall, Spring, and Summer as a whole), and $10 for Maymester. The re-registration fees are non-refundable.

If I don't attend summer school can I still have a space held for the upcoming fall semester?
Yes, you must pay a $40 non-refundable enrollment fee each semester.

Do I pay a registration fee each semester?
Yes, you must pay a $40 non-refundable enrollment fee for each semester ($20 for each summer session).

Arrival and Departure

When does my child need to be at school?
At the REFC, we strive to implement a program developed around daily routines that support children’s interest and ability to engage in varies learning activities. Therefore, we encourage parents to bring in their children between 7:30 – 8:30 a.m. This allows children to fully participate in daily activities, daily schedule, and morning breakfast which is served at 8:45 a.m.

What happens if I am late picking up my child?
The REFC closes promptly at 5:30 p.m. Late fee policies are strictly enforced. If a parent is consistently tardy or late for pickup, he/she may be asked to find alternate care for the child. Please ensure that you have a back-up plan to ensure your child is picked up before closing. Please see your handbook for our policies.


What time is breakfast?
Breakfast is served at 8:45 a.m.

If I bring my child late for a meal time, will you still provide the meal?
If you call ahead of time and ask for a plate to be saved, you may feed your child outside the classroom. You may also take your child to the cafeteria in the Student Center before signing them in.

May I bring birthday snacks for my child?
The REFC is happy to celebrate the birthday of each child in age-appropriate and healthy ways; we highly encouraged to offer healthy treats. No gifts will be allowed for exchange. Invitations for birthday parties may be distributed ONLY if all children in the class are invited. The teacher will distribute through the children’s cubbies in their classrooms.

How will I know what my child eats during the day?
The monthly menu is posted inside all the classroom. A daily report from your child's teachers for a detailed account of your child's day will be provided to you.

Children’s Activities

Does the REFC have a curriculum?
Yes, the REFC utilizes the Creative Curriculum which emphasizes developmentally appropriate play experiences. For more specific information on our curriculum please refer to our handbook or ask your child's teacher.

How will I know what my child does during the day?
Please refer to the daily schedule and lesson plans posted in the classrooms. The teachers will also be pleased to speak with you about the activities that are planned. You may request Daily Reports from your child's teachers for a detailed account of your child's teacher.

Will my child play outside during the winter?
Yes. Licensing requires that children have an outdoor time daily. Please bring jacket, mittens, gloves, and other weather-appropriate accessories so that your child can enjoy the healthy outdoors.

Health Concerns

May my child come to school when he/she is ill?
No. Home is the best place for children when they are contagious or recuperating. Your handbook lists contagious illnesses that require children's absence. All children myst be free of fever, symptoms, and medication for 24 hours before returning.

How often does my child need a physical?
Physicals are required once a year after enrollment.

What happens if my child is ill or hurt while at the REFC?
Minor injuries are tended to by the teachers and an incident report is completed to document the event. You will receive a copy of this report at pick up time. For more serious injuries we will use your emergency information to contact you so you can be with your child. See emergency procedures in your handbook.

Parent & Family

May I come visit my child at the REFC?
Yes! Approved family members are always welcome to visit the classrooms at any time. All visitors to the REFC will need to be approved and receive access to the classrooms by REFC administration.

In what ways can I be involved in my child's program?
We encourage you to come and visit your child and participate in the activities of the day. Speak with your child's teacher for special upcoming events or let them know about your special talents and interests.

Does the REFC have parenting books or resources I can borrow?
Yes, we have a lending library with books that can be checked out. We also have a wealth of handouts to share with you concerning your child's development. Let us know what information you need and we can help you find it.

How do I request a parent conference?
We provide parent conferences twice a year and upon request. Feel free to ask your child's teacher if you would like to schedule one.

If I have a concern about services my child is receiving what can I do?
Please feel free to speak with the REFC coordinator with any questions you may have.

Should I notify the center if there are questions surrounding custody issues?
Unless otherwise notified in your child's enrollment packet, we assume both parents have legal custody and both have full rights to leave our center with their child. We can only enforce custody matters if we have copies of the court orders on file.

Holidays & School Vacations

Is the REFC open during semester breaks?
No, the REFC is open only when classes are in session. Please visit calendar main page for closures and important dates.

Does the REFC celebrate holidays?
Yes. At the REFC, our goal is to provide consistent, meaningful learning experiences for all children. Please share with the center staff celebrations that are important to your family. We respect wide range of cultural, religious and ethnic background of all families. Every effort will be made to respectfully honor your family’s culture and traditions.


What will the REFC personnel do if my child acts inappropriately?
We use positive guidance techniques that help to promote self- discipline and acceptable behavior. Please refer to the handbook for more details.

Will the center tell me if my child is having any problems?
If we are not able to correct them in a reasonable time, yes, we will ask for your input and assistance. In such instances, the teachers and/ or the REFC coordinator will likely request a parent- teacher conference.

Should I punish my child at home if he/she acts inappropriately at the REFC?
No! It is best if the teachers deal with the REFC behaviors and parents handle the home behaviors. We would like to share strategies with each other for dealing with inappropriate behavior so we can all be as consistent as possible for your child.

Withdrawal & Dismissal Procedures

How much notice should I give before withdrawing my child?
We require a two week notice before withdrawing your child. Please stop by the front desk to complete the necessary paperwork.

Can the REFC dismiss my child?
Yes but this is very, very rare. Please refer to your parent handbook under discipline guidelines.

Contact Information

Ray Ellison Family Center (REFC)



Hours of Operation:
7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.