FAQ

  • What are the fees?

Fees vary based on the age of the child, the number of full days of attendance, and the services that the child and family receive. There are three different fee charts for general services i.e., Montclair State University students, Montclair State University employees and community. There is a discount for additional children from a family.

  • What hours are you open?

The Center is open from 7:30 AM through 6:15 PM Monday through Friday. Classrooms on the east side of the building are open from 7:30 to 5:30; those on the west side from 8:15 to 6:15.

  • Do you have openings?

We currently do not have any spaces available, however a wait list is maintained for all age groups. 

  • Who can enroll?

The parents of thirty percent of the children are studying at Montclair State; another thirty percent are employed at the University; forty percent are from the community. Our youngest children are twelve weeks old; the oldest have just missed the kindergarten cut-off date for their school district. Last year families spoke more than twelve different languages and came from fifteen different countries.

  • What services do you offer?

The Ben Samuels Children's Center at Montclair State University provides inclusive early care and learning for approximately 200 children who are between twelve weeks and five years of age. Among its services are child care, early intervention for infants and toddlers, and inclusive special education services for preschoolers. Its forty-five plus professional staff members work closely with faculty members and actively participate in the pre-service development of Montclair State University students by offering guided observations, supervised clinical hours and mentoring.

The Center is a hybrid of child care and education. There are four infant/toddler suites and four preschools. Each classroom has between twenty five and thirty percent of children with identified disabilities.

The facility includes two indoor gyms and wide hallways that are used for indoor bike riding. The large park-like lawn that surrounds the building has four playground equipment areas and plenty of open space.

Among the staff are an interactive storyteller and a music therapist who work with the classroom teaching teams to infuse arts into the classroom curriculum.

Support staff including special educators, speech-language specialists, occupational and physical therapists and assistants, and a school psychologist provide direct service to children/families and consultative support for classroom teams.

The presence of Montclair State University faculty and students further enhances the services provided. For example: Parents who were professional teachers of world languages developed and piloted a world language program which they plan to modify for this year. Dance students will provide a series of creative movement workshops for toddlers.

  • What is the ratio of teachers to children?

Each group of eight infants has one full time early childhood educator and a full time early childhood teaching assistant. This is supplemented by part time teaching assistants who are typically University students. Support staff members are added based upon the specific needs of children with disabilities.

Each group of twelve toddlers has one full time early childhood educator and a full time early childhood teaching assistant. This is supplemented by part time teaching assistants who are typically University students. Support staff members are added based upon the specific needs of children with disabilities.

Each group of eighteen preschoolers has one full time early childhood educator and a full time early childhood teaching assistant. This is supplemented by part time teaching assistants who are typically University students. Support staff members are added based upon the specific needs of children with disabilities.

Additionally there may be University students who are participating as part of their studies.

  • What opportunities are available for Montclair State University students?

Thirty percent of the families who bring their children to The Center are students at the University. Some scholarship support for childcare fees is available through the Student Government and three small endowments in the University Foundation. State subsidy for childcare can be accessed through http://www.state.nj.us/humanservices/dfd/ucca.html

The Center employs over one hundred students as part time teaching assistants in the classrooms, and for office support.

Each year over 500 students are involved with The Center as part of their studies. Many courses require observations of young children; others require specific participation; others an internship.

  • What services are available for preschool children with special needs?

The Ben Samuels Children's Center is approved by the New Jersey Department of Education as a school providing special education services. It has four inclusive pre-school classrooms. Each of these classrooms can accommodate up to 18 children. Up to four children in each class may have an Individual Education Plan (IEP). These classrooms are mixed age for children 3 to 5 years of age and are led by an early childhood teacher and a teaching assistant. A support team provides both direct services to the children with IEP's as well as consultation and support to the classroom team. This support team is made up of a special educator, school psychologist, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, a physical therapist, music therapist and interactive storyteller. Accommodations are made as necessary and additional support is added to the classroom to meet a child's individual needs. The Center works closely with Child Study Team members from the child's school district and with any other professionals who are involved with the child in order to create a complimentary cohesive plan.

Individualized learning goals and instructional strategies are developed for each child by the support team, classroom team and family. The goals are addressed within developmentally appropriate routines and activities that include "Floor Time" and semi-structured activities in the context of the inclusive pre-school day.

"Floor Time" begins by the adult observing the child and then entering the activity by following the child's lead. The child's response closes the circle of communication. The objective is to help a child string together significant numbers of circles of communication that have high affective interaction and help a child reach developmentally appropriate levels of functional emotional development.

In semi-structured segments the adult structures the activity in order to extend and expand learning. The adult remains watchful of "teachable moments" when the child's interest will be given precedence over planned objectives.

The school day also includes various sensory motor activities that address processing abilities and strength necessary for enjoyment and learning. These activities are conducted in the classroom, the gym, and outside.

Interactions within the classroom, in the gym and on the playground are engineered to acknowledge each child's readiness for relationships (i.e., one adult with one child, two adults with two children, one adult with two children and so on up to the possibility of six or more children in a small group sharing interest and enjoying engagement in activities such as story, music, dance, gross motor, crafts, sensory or pretend play).

Related services such as speech and language therapy and occupational therapy are infused or integrated into the learning environments. Therapists work along side the classroom staff to address identified goals while engaging the child in classroom activities. The classroom staff and therapists work together creating and implementing strategies to support the child's development. The classroom staff then uses these strategies throughout the day even when the therapist is not present in the room.

Challenging behaviors are viewed as communication. The staff works together with families to assess the contributing factors which may include but are not limited to medical factors, family stressors, sensory needs, as well as frustration regarding communication challenges. Families and staff members work together to problem solve and develop plans to make necessary accommodations to support each child's needs. Discipline means "teaching" not punishment (Touchpoints, Berry Brazelton, M.D., 1992). The goal for discipline is to encourage the development of internally disciplined individuals who eventually make decisions as independent thinkers regarding their own behavior. Helping a child be in control of his or her own behavior results in higher self-esteem.

Families are welcome to have a tour of The Center to observe the inclusive preschool classrooms in action.

Screening for enrollment typically begins with the Child Study Team Case Manager contacting the School Psychologist for an appointment.

In the event that a child has identified special needs, is attending the Center, but is not attending the Center for implementation of an IEP, the Center responds to the child based on our philosophy and curriculum. Sometimes the child may need additional support for successful participation. In these cases we talk with the family about a Special Buddy. This service might be provided as part of the child's IEP, paid for by the family, or through a small grant in the University Foundation.

  • What services are available for children from birth to three who have special needs?

The Center provides comprehensive early intervention through for families that have children under the age of three who have identified special needs. This is done through The Center's Jeffrey Dworkin Early Intervention Program which is approved by the New Jersey Early Intervention System (NJEIS) of the New Jersey Department of Health and Human Services. Support and services are provided in accordance with an Individual Family Service Plan based on evaluation provided by NJEIS with the participation of the child's family.

Approximately 100 families and their children in western Essex County receive services in their homes or in other community settings where the child and family go. Among these are about thirty children who also receive support and services in The Center's inclusive infant and toddler classrooms. Classrooms are supported by early intervention special educators, speech language specialists, occupational and physical therapists, child development assistants and a nurse.

Individualized learning goals and instructional strategies are developed for each child by the support team, classroom team and family. The goals are addressed within developmentally appropriate routines and activities that include "Floor Time" and semi-structured activities in the context of the inclusive pre-school day.

"Floor Time" begins by the adult observing the child and then entering the activity by following the child's lead. The child's response closes the circle of communication. The objective is to help a child string together significant numbers of circles of communication that have high affective interaction and help a child reach developmentally appropriate levels of functional emotional development.

In semi-structured segments the adult structures the activity in order to extend and expand learning. The adult remains watchful of "teachable moments" when the child's interest will be given precedence over planned objectives.

The day also includes various sensory motor activities that address processing abilities and strength necessary for enjoyment and learning. These activities are conducted in the classroom, the gym, and outside.

Interactions within the classroom, in the gym and on the playground are engineered to acknowledge each child's readiness for relationships (i.e., one adult with one child, two adults with two children, one adult with two children and so on up to the possibility of six or more children in a small group sharing interest and enjoying engagement in activities such as story, music, dance, gross motor, crafts, sensory or pretend play).

Related services such as speech and language therapy and occupational therapy are infused or integrated into the learning environments. Therapists work along side the classroom staff to address identified goals while engaging the child in classroom activities. The classroom staff and therapists work together creating and implementing strategies to support the child's development. The classroom staff then uses these strategies throughout the day even when the therapist is not present in the room.

Challenging behaviors are viewed as communication. The staff works together with families to assess the contributing factors which may include but are not limited to medical factors, family stressors, sensory needs, as well as frustration regarding communication challenges. Families and staff members work together to problem solve and develop plans to make necessary accommodations to support each child's needs. Discipline means "teaching" not punishment (Touchpoints, Berry Brazelton, M.D., 1992). The goal for discipline is to encourage the development of internally disciplined individuals who eventually make decisions as independent thinkers regarding their own behavior. Helping a child be in control of his or her own behavior results in higher self-esteem.

Families are welcome to have a tour of The Center to observe the inclusive preschool classrooms in action.

Screening for enrollment typically begins with the Child Study Team Case Manager contacting the School Psychologist for an appointment.

In the event that a child has identified special needs, is attending the Center, but is not attending the Center for implementation of an IEP, the Center responds to the child based on our philosophy and curriculum. Sometimes the child may need additional support for successful participation. In these cases we talk with the family about a Special Buddy. This service might be provided as part of the child's IEP, paid for by the family, or through a small grant in the University Foundation.

  • What opportunities are available for families?

There is an open door policy which welcomes families into each classroom everyday anytime. Families are encouraged to spend time with their child during both the arrival and departure process. Families influence the classroom curriculum by bringing their interests and customs to share. Throughout the year there are family social events some of which are classroom specific, some that involve a few classrooms and others of which are center wide. Twice a year families are offered conferences with the teaching team to discuss their child's interests, growth and development. Some classrooms have family committees that bring families and teaching team together for reflecting and planning; some have distribution lists for on-line conversations; many have classroom newsletters. Family participation is welcome in classroom and school events e.g. field trips, summer celebration, book fair, search committees for new staff members. The Center also provides some informational and support sessions e.g. an interactive workshop series for parents of children with developmental delays "Using the DIR® Model to Learn About Your Child and Yourself".

The Center's Advisory Committee which is appointed by the Dean of the College of Education and Human Services includes family representatives.

  • What opportunities are available for Montclair State University faculty?

Thirty percent of the families of children enrolled in The Center are working at the University.

Faculty members who are interested in enhancing their course work through Center visitations are encouraged to meet with Center staff to develop experiences at The Center for their students that compliment their courses.

  • How do you apply?

Please call us at (973) 655-7177 to place your name on the wait list.

  • What is your discipline policy?

Challenging behaviors are viewed as communication. The staff works together with families to assess the contributing factors which may include but are not limited to medical factors, family stressors, sensory needs, as well as frustration regarding communication challenges. Families and staff members work together to problem solve and develop plans to make necessary accommodations to support each child's needs. Discipline means "teaching" not punishment (Touchpoints, Berry Brazelton, M.D., 1992). The goal for discipline is to encourage the development of internally disciplined individuals who eventually make decisions as independent thinkers regarding their own behavior. Helping a child be in control of his or her own behavior results in higher self-esteem.