Our policies are developed with families’ and staffers’ well-being as our primary objective. Many of our policies and practices have been developed with the input of our Parent Advisory Group as well as our professional consultants. If you have a question about a policy not outlined here, please review the Family Handbook or speak with your center director.


After Hours Care

Gretchen’s House, Inc. does not legislate, condone, or censure private Child Care that staff may provide to families outside their paid working hours for Gretchen’s House. Gretchen’s House, Inc. takes no responsibility or liability for actions or arrangements made by staff or families of Gretchen’s House, Inc. that are not a part of our contracted services. This care is not a part of the Gretchen’s House, Inc. program, and as such will not be discussed or arranged during working hours. All arrangements for such care are private and will be treated as such.

Gretchen’s House teachers are not permitted to care for children from the centers if we are closed due to inclement weather or dangerous temperatures. The teachers are being paid for this time and are therefore expected to do additional planning and preparation at home. Parents who wish to share child care with other Gretchen’s House parents on these days can put their names on our co-op list and coordinate this care themselves.


Because food and other allergies are a concern for so many families, all Gretchen’s House programs are designated as Allergy Aware. This means that we have policies and procedures in place to provide a safe, healthy environment for children with food and other allergies. If your child has an allergy, please let the center Director know; our staff will work with you to develop an allergy action plan.  In addition to being Allergy Aware, we have a nut-free policy at all of our centers.

*You may download a printable copy of our Food Allergy Policies and Procedures here (reviewed 2022).

Health Policy

Some of these symptoms have changed due to covid-19. We are following recommendations set forth by the State of Michigan and the CDC.

To protect your child, the staff, and the other children, we request that your child not be brought to the center when any of the following occur: The child shows any one of the following symptoms:

  • sluggishness or unusual drowsiness without explanation
  • extreme irritability or inconsolably
  • difficulty with breathing
  • diarrhea
  • blood or mucus in stool
  • vomiting
  • mouth sores or drooling
  • unexplained rash

The child has an oral temperature of 102°F or more.
The child cannot participate comfortably in routine activities.
The child needs more care than the staff can give while they care for the other children.

Teachers will send home a Sick Child Observation form anytime they believe a child may not be feeling well. We provide this information so you can obtain appropriate treatment and/or plan for the possibility of your child needing to stay home. If we send a child home sick (i.e., with any of the above symptoms), the observation form will indicate that the child should not return to the center until he or she is well or being treated by a physician and meets our other criteria for particular illnesses.

We post notices on the parent information boards when children have been exposed to any communicable disease. We will care for a child that has symptoms of a communicable disease until a parent or authorized adult arrives.

After leaving a Center ill, a child must be free of symptoms and fever for 24 hours before returning to the Center. A child may return after being on an antibiotic for 24 hours if they are feeling better. All parents must have emergency plans established to care for ill children.

Click here to download a copy of our Health Policy Purple Page.


Medication will be given only after a Medication Release Form has been filled out and the medication is labeled with your child’s name. We cannot administer the first dose of any medication. Special note: When filling a prescription for your child, ask the pharmacist to divide the medicine into two containers-one for use at home, and the other to be kept at the child care center. No more trips back to the center at night for forgotten medicine!


Our menu changes twice a year.  Once in May, then again in October.  Menus are categorized as Spring/Summer & Fall/Winter.  Before these changes happen, our menus are reviewed by a NAEYC approved dietitian.   A few important aspects the dietitian looks for are:

  • The Gretchen’s House menu provides appropriate and nutritional food
  • Gretchen’s House serves appropriate food portion sizes to the child throughout the day
  • Gretchen’s House limits juice, sugar, sodium and saturated fats
  • Gretchen’s House has policies in place to accommodate special feeding needs
  • Gretchen’s House has policies in place for food brought from home
  • A food Service guideline is provided to all staff to ensure appropriate food service operations

Fall / Winter Menu 2023-24

Many of you may have heard that the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released reports that trace amounts of glyphosate, the chemical found in Roundup, has been found in several popular cereals. Until more information is available, Gretchen’s House centers will not serve the cereals listed as containing these chemicals.

While there is still much to learn about these findings, we feel it is a relatively easy change, and worth the inconvenience. We will share information with you on this and other health topics as they become available.

The article, below, provides a summary of the study:


For more information, visit the Environmental Working Group’s website at https://www.ewg.org/


Heidi McFadden

Executive Director

Insect Repellent

Gretchen’s House will provide and apply insect repellent as needed*, according to the following guidelines:

  • Do not use repellent containing DEET on children who may lick their skin.
  • Do not use repellent containing DEET on children under the age of 2 years.
  • Children 2 years and older may have insect repellent applied sparingly to the back of their necks, legs, and arms. Avoid the hands, so that repellent does not get rubbed in children’s eyes.
  • Our consulting pediatrician has recommended using only those insect repellents with less than 10% DEET.

The following repellents fit that guideline and have been named acceptable by Child Health Associates for use with children older than 2 years of age:

  • Skedaddle lotion 6.5% DEET
  • Skedaddle 4 hour lotion 9.5% DEET
  • Skintastic for Children (by OFF brand) 7.5% DEET

The following insect repellents have been named unacceptable by Child Health Associates:

  • Tick OFF
  • Deep Woods OFF Maximum Strength
  • Muskol Lotion
  • Muskol Cream
  • All 100% DEET solutions

Parents who do not want their child to receive insect repellent should indicate this on the Permission Form in their child’s file.

Parents who wish to have their child use a repellent which does not meet our guidelines must fill out a Medication Release Form.

*Please Note: Our consulting pediatrician recommends that children be bathed prior to bedtime on days when insect repellent has been applied. Staff will post a card on the parent sign-in/sign-out board that indicates if insect repellent has been used on a given day. It is parents’ responsibility to check for this information when they sign their child/ren out at the end of the day.

Inclement Weather

Gretchen’s House has great concern for the health and safety of the parents, staff and children as they travel to and from the centers, particularly in winter. Gretchen’s House will, therefore, either close the centers or have a delayed opening on days that the Ann Arbor Public Schools close for inclement weather or dangerous temperatures, or if there is a power outage or other “disaster” beyond our control.

We use several methods to issue notices:

Text Message, Email Notifications, Social Media Platform

  • All staff and parent phone numbers and emails are automatically entered in our Kaymbu service, and we will use this to send notices of unexpected closings for any reason.
  •  You will also be able to sign up to receive text messages through Kaymbu as well
  • We post a notice on our facebook page.

When the Ann Arbor Public Schools close due to inclement weather, Gretchen’s House will

  • have a delayed opening,
  • open at our usual time or
  • be closed all day.

In the event of an unexpected closing or delay, staff and families will be notified by email and/or text by the Kaymbu service.  In addition, closing information will be posted on the Gretchen’s House Facebook page.

When we have a delayed opening:

  • Lunch will be prepared as usual, though the menu items may differ from the schedule if necessary.
  • Care for School Age children will begin at noon. Kindergarten and School age children wishing to come to Gretchen’s House on an inclement weather day for hours they are not normally in attendance must call the center after 10:00 a.m. to check for availability.
  • All centers will close at the regular closing time of 5:00. Parents are asked to pick up their children at their own regular pick-up time (many children are picked up before 5:00) since those staff who normally leave by 5:00 may still need to leave at their scheduled time to meet other commitments (college classes, second job, etc.).
  • If the weather takes a turn for the worse, the centers may call parents to require an early pick-up.

When the centers are closed all day:

  • Parents will be notified by the Kaymbu system. Please speak to your center Director to receive the information and link on how to sign up for specialized settings.
  • Gretchen’s House teachers are not permitted to care for children from the centers if we are closed due to inclement weather or dangerous temperatures. The teachers are being paid for this time and are therefore expected to do additional planning and preparation at home.
  • Parents who wish to share child care with other Gretchen’s House parents on these days can put their names on our co-op list and coordinate this care themselves.

Inclement Weather — Little Huskies
Little Huskies will close when Michigan Tech is closed. On mornings with inclement weather, please listen to local radio stations that announce school closings. If the Houghton/Keweenaw area schools close for the day, Little Huskies will automatically have a 10:00 a.m. delayed opening. Parents can call our Snow Emergency Hotline (906.487.1010) for updates on closings when inclement weather is expected or on-going.


(updated 2023)

Gretchen’s House will provide sunscreen for all children and will apply sunscreen to children prior to going outside. Parents whose children need a specific brand of sunscreen because of allergies or other medical reasons may provide that sunscreen with a doctor’s note and medication permission form. Special sunscreen must be labeled with the child’s name and used only by that child. Staff will post a notice to this effect in the classroom. The sunscreen that Gretchen’s House supplies will be PABA-free, water resistant, and have an SPF of at least 30. The name of the brand used will be posted in the classrooms.

Staff will follow these procedures:

  • Apply sunscreen during the months of March through October and other times when the sun seems intense.
  • Apply sunscreen in the morning and afternoon and anytime necessary in between, preferably ½ hour prior to exposure.
  • Apply sunscreen liberally, with special attention to cheeks, shoulders, backs of legs and upper arms.
  • Apply sunscreen before and after water play.
  • Do not apply sunscreen to infants under 6 months of age unless specified in writing by a parent.
  • Do not apply sunscreen to toddler’s hands. Place high on foreheads away from eyebrow, since sweat can cause it to get in children’s eyes.
  • We may apply zinc oxide to the ears and nose of infants and older children.
  • School-age children may apply sunscreen to themselves with adult supervision.

The brand that will be used in 2023 will be All Good.   This brand received a 2 on the Environmental Working Group scale for safety of sunscreens.

“EWG provides information on sunscreen products from the published scientific literature, to supplement incomplete data available from companies and the government. The ratings indicate both efficacy and the relative level of concern posed by exposure to the ingredients in this product – not the product itself – compared to other sunscreens. The ratings reflect potential health hazards but do not account for the level of exposure or individual susceptibility, factors which determine actual health risks, if any. ”

You can find more information here.