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​Child Development Laboratory Procedures Guidelines


The information in this document is to be used as a guideline for establishing operating procedures in Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) child development laboratory classes. All child development laboratory classes should have written policy and procedures adopted by the school district's board of directors and approved by the district's insurance carrier to eliminate liability issues that could occur due to the absence of such a document.


Child development laboratories exist to support child development curricular concepts. Child development curriculum and child development laboratories are to be taught by FCS certified teachers (CSPG #, part 3). Under the supervision of FCS teachers, students enrolled in Child Development classes study, design, and implement age-appropriate learning activities to explore and understand the development of pre-school children. These experiences provide opportunities for high school students to develop skills in behavior management, to identify developmental milestones, and to practice negotiation, cooperation, and leadership through teamwork. These laboratory programs provide educational experiences necessary for teaching and assessing the state and national curriculum standards for child development.

By design, these programs are exempt from licensure by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (Title 55. Public Welfare Federal Regs., Section 3270.4 and 1978 DPW Fed. Regs. Section 259) and the Pennsylvania Department of Education (Act 1988-11, Laws of Pennsylvania, Section 5).

Mission Statement

The mission of a child development laboratory is to provide high school students with the opportunity to observe and interact with preschool children in a model setting that utilizes exemplary practices. In addition, these experiences offer high school students a model from which they can learn and discuss real-life concepts related to early care and education and child development and explore their interest in education careers.


The goal of any child development laboratory should be to enroll a well-rounded, diverse group of children representative of the local population. To affect a high-quality learning environment, diversity of gender, age, race, ethnicity, special needs, and family income is recommended.

Each child enrolled in a child development laboratory must satisfy the following requirements:

  1. A Medical History Form that includes the following information must be provided to and retained by the school:
    • Immunization record;
    • Food or other allergies;
    • Special medical conditions or concerns; and
    • Daily medications taken.
  2. A physician's report of child's physical examination within 12 months of attending the lab school must be on file with the FCS teacher.
  3. Emergency Contact Card must be on file with the FCS teacher, school nurse, and pupil services office, and include the following information:
    • Parent/Guardian Name
    • Address
    • Phone Number
    • Work Hours
    • Work Phone Number
    • Child's Physician
    • Physician Phone Number
    • Health Insurance Carrier and Policy Number
    • Emergency Contact if Parent/Guardian Unavailable
    • Relationship to Parent/Guardian
    • Phone Number of Emergency Contact
      The child's parent/guardian is responsible for updating emergency contact numbers as needed.
  4. Any custody document(s) issued by the court, such as a "no contact order" or "joint custody order," must be on file with the FCS teacher.
  5. A signed parental/guardian consent form stating the parent/guardian accepts the philosophy and procedures of the child development laboratory. This consent also applies to photographing, videotaping, and assessment of children for educational and program planning purposes.

Laboratory Fees and Tax Information

A laboratory fee may be charged to defray costs of materials, supplies, and equipment. This fee qualifies as a childcare tax credit. FCS teachers will provide parents/guardians with a receipt for payments that includes the local school district's tax identification number.

Pick Up and Drop Off Procedures

  • Children must be closely attended upon arrival and departure. Children must hold the hand of a caregiver as they exit a vehicle until they arrive at a protected play space. Children also must hold the hand of a caregiver until seated in the departing vehicle.
  • All children must be properly secured in an age-appropriate car seat in the vehicle upon arrival and departure.
  • Children may only be delivered by and released to the child's parent/guardian or an individual designated in writing by the parent/guardian.
  • In an emergency, a child may be released to an individual upon the oral designation of the parent/guardian, only if the identity of the individual can be verified by FCS staff.

Field Trips

  • Field trips must be arranged with parental/guardian involvement.
  • Field trip participants must be transported according to Pennsylvania Department of Transportation requirements, including necessary safety seats or seat belt restraints.
  • Field trips should only be to locations where adequate supervision can be provided and preschool safety has been taken into consideration.
  • Each child must have a permission form signed by their parent/guardian. These forms, along with emergency cards and a first aid kit, must be always available during the field trip.

High School Student Supervision

  • Only high school students enrolled in the child development courses are permitted to interact with the children in the child development laboratory.
  • These enrolled high school students must receive training and relevant information before being permitted to interact with preschool children.
  • High school students must be carefully supervised by FCS staff during all interactions with preschool children.


High school students must be trained in specific positive guidance and classroom management techniques including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Providing clear and simple limits
  • Maintaining age-appropriate expectations for young children
  • Creating a caring, accepting, and welcoming atmosphere
  • Keeping children productively involved
  • Modeling appropriate behaviors
  • Positively redirecting inappropriate behaviors toward desired outcomes
  • Giving children choices between two acceptable alternatives
  • Encouraging children to work together to solve problems and make cooperative decisions
  • Encouraging children to use their words to solve problems
  • Providing logical and appropriate consequences for children's actions
  • Removing children from a situation until they are calm and able to discuss the problem

FCS teachers must monitor interactions between high school students and preschool children to reinforce appropriate guidance techniques. Corrective intervention shall be employed as needed. An FCS staff person will intervene in any unusual circumstance.


  • A toilet and sink must be accessible to preschool children, high school students, and teachers. Preschool children must be assisted during toileting by the FCS staff.
  • There shall be at least one flush toilet and one washbowl for every 15 children. If the toilet and washbowl facilities are not child size, platforms or steps of proper size shall be provided.
  • Hands must be washed with soap after toileting and before eating.
  • Paper towels are to be used as towels and washcloths and discarded after one use.
  • Tables and food preparation surfaces must be sanitized before and after snack time.
  • Paper cups, plates, and napkins must be used for eating and drinking and discarded after one use.


A child should not attend school if the following symptoms have occurred within the last 24 hours:

  • Temperature over 100 degrees
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Severe coughing
  • Yellowish skin or eyes
  • Pink eye
  • Chicken pox that are not scabbed
  • Head lice, including visible nits
  • Visible impetigo
  • Open or weeping sores
  • Symptoms of any other communicable disease

If a child becomes ill after arriving at school, a parent, guardian, or emergency contact person should be called to pick up the child immediately. The child should be isolated from other children until picked up.

Families must be notified in writing or by telephone when children have been exposed to a communicable disease. Families should immediately notify the FCS teacher if the child becomes ill with a communicable disease.

Accidental Injury

If a child is injured at school, a parent or guardian should be called and first aid should be administered either by the FCS teacher or when available, the school nurse.

If a child needs immediate medical attention, the FCS teacher should call 911 first and then call the parent, guardian, or the child's physician. If the parent/guardian cannot be reached, the FCS teacher should call the emergency contact. The FCS teacher must accompany the child to the hospital, bringing records and parent permission forms.

Child Abuse and Neglect

Lab school staff members are mandated reporters of child abuse and required to report signs of neglect or abuse to the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS).

Signs of potential abuse or neglect can include:

  • Numerous and/or unexplained injuries or bruises;
  • Chronic, pronounced anxiety and expressed feelings of inadequacy;
  • Flinching or an avoidance to being touched;
  • Poor impulse control;
  • Demonstrating abusive behavior or talk;
  • Cruelty to animals or others; and,
  • Fear of parent or caregiver, among others. 

To report a concern, call the DHS ChildLine at 1-800-932-0313. Anyone can make a report to ChildLine. For more information, visit ChildLine.

Public school reporting procedures must be followed, and strict confidentiality must be maintained.

The safety of preschool children is insured through supervision of enrolled high school students by FCS teachers or adult teacher's assistants/aides.

General Safety

A first aid kit must be always readily accessible to FCS staff and, at minimum, contain the following items:

  • Anti-bacterial hand sanitizer
  • Adhesive bandages
  • Sterile gauze pads
  • Tweezers
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Disposable gloves

It is recommended that child development laboratories have easy access to telephone service to facilitate direct contact between parents/guardians and the child development lab.

Bodily fluid cleanup kits containing disposable gloves and sterile gauze in a disposable bag must be readily available in each area where children are always present.

At least one staff member must be able to administer first aid and have the first aid kit readily available.

A school shall make specific and adequate provisions for protecting the health of the students and for safeguarding their physical welfare.

Indoor Safety

  • Play equipment used by children must be clean, in good repair, and free from rough edges, sharp corners, pinch and crush points, splinters and exposed bolts.
  • Play equipment must be age appropriate.
  • Indoor climbing equipment must be used over a protective surface that does not interfere with the stability of the equipment.
  • Protective receptacle covers must be placed in electrical outlets accessible to pre-school children.
  • Cleaning materials and other toxic materials must be kept in a container or area that is locked or inaccessible to children and away from food, food preparation areas, and childcare spaces.
  • There shall be a minimum of 35 square feet of floor space per child in the indoor classrooms, exclusive of offices, sanitary facilities, storage spaces and other auxiliary rooms. Classrooms shall have a minimum height of 8-foot ceilings.

Outdoor Safety

  • Outdoor play space must be protected from unsafe areas or conditions. If unsafe areas or conditions exist, a physical barrier must be employed. Barriers may be permanent or portable but must be in use when children are present.
  • Outdoor space must be safe for large muscle activity, including riding, climbing, jumping, and running.
  • Bike riding must take place in a designated area, separate from other play activities. Bike riders must wear age-appropriate protective helmets.
  • Outdoor play equipment must be age appropriate, clean and in good repair free from rough edges, sharp corners, pinch and crush points, splinter, and exposed bolts.
  • Outdoor climbing equipment must be stable and used over a protective surface of impact-absorbing materials.
  • A water play table or a container used for water play that contains unfiltered water must be emptied and cleaned daily.
  • There shall be a minimum of 60 square feet of accessible space per child in the outdoor activity area, which shall be free of hazards. Outdoor play areas which are adjacent to traffic, steep banks, water or other unsafe areas shall be fenced.
  • If a school playground is adjacent to a public highway, waterway, ditch or other unsafe surrounds shall be fenced or have natural barriers to restrict children from these areas.

Fire, Bomb Threat, or Other Emergency Procedures

In accordance with local district policy, evacuation procedures must be posted in each classroom and followed in the event of real emergency or drill.

A school shall have a written plan for emergency evacuations and shall conduct monthly fire drills. All fire drills must be logged and recorded monthly.

Shelter in Place Procedures

In the event of a chemical, biological, or national emergency, shelter in place guidelines should be followed. In the event of such an emergency, children outdoors would be brought inside the building without delay, closing windows, and locking entry doors to the school for a better seal. FCS teachers would immediately take attendance to be certain all children are present.

For the everyone's safety, the school would be kept in lockdown status. This condition would mean that staff and children would not be permitted to leave the facility until an official all clear message is given. While being separated from a child in an emergency can be extremely unsettling, having parents come to the school to pick up their child could expose themselves, their child, and others in the lab school to hazardous conditions. It is expected that parents cooperate with these guidelines.

Other Items to Consider: