The enrollment process is completed by each of the child care center's administrative staff. LifeWork Strategies (LWS) is contracted by the NIH to be the Wait List Administrator and to ensure accurate information is provided to the centers. Openings at the child care centers occur throughout the year when the children “age out” of a program, leave the center for another program or school, move out of the area, etc.
When there is an opening at one of the centers, the center's administrative staff must first determine if there is another child in the center who needs that space. The number and ages of children in each classroom is determined by the Maryland State Department of Education and the National Association for the Education of Young Children .
- If a three-year-old child leaves the program, there may be a child in a two-year-old room who needs to transition to the older age group. Therefore, when a three-year-old leaves, there could be a space in a three-year-old classroom or in a two-year-old classroom.
Once it is determined where the space in the center exists, the center's administrative staff will determine the age or birth date range for the child who will be assuming that space. The center's administrative staff will then request a list from the Wait List Administrator of children who meet that age range requirement.
Using the waiting list of appropriately-aged children, the center's administrative staff would first check to see if there are any eligible siblings of currently enrolled children waiting for that space. If there are none, the center's administrative staff would call the first person on the waiting list based on date of application and the desired enrollment date.
- Sibling Status
NIH employees who have a child currently enrolled in the same center get "sibling priority" for their other children.
- The Age of the Child
The first family on the waiting list whose child meets the age requirement will be called. Even if a child is first on the waiting list, if they are 14 months old and the opening is for children 9-12 months old, they will not be called.
- Desired Enrollment Date (the earliest date you need care)
Anyone whose desired enrollment date is significantly in the future (more than two months) will purposely be skipped. The Waiting List Administrator encourages employees to review desired date of enrollment on a regular basis. This avoids parents declining spaces unnecessarily.
- Position on Waiting List
The first child on the waiting list who meets the age requirement for that space will get the first offer.
The amount of time between the center calling the parent and the actual opening varies anywhere from an immediate opening to 3 months.
- A parent leaving the center is required to give a 1 month's notice in writing. The first person on the waiting list would have approximately 1 month before the space opens. If, however, the first person does not accept the space, the people further down on the waiting list would have less than 1 month. If many people are called, the timeframe could be very short.
When the center's administrative staff contacts a parent about a space, the parent has 2 business days to respond to the initial phone call or email regarding this space. As long as the response is within the 2 business days, the parent will then schedule a tour of the center if they have not already. This visit is usually scheduled within 2 days. A decision accepting or declining the space is expected the morning after the tour of the center.
- If the center's administrative staff calls on a Thursday at 2:30 p.m., the parent has until Monday at 2:30 p.m. to return the call. If the parent tours the center on Tuesday at 10:00 a.m., the center's administrative staff will expect a decision by Wednesday morning.
The center's administrative staff will not call for a current space in the center if the desired enrollment date is significantly in the future (more than two months).
It is extremely important to keep an accurate desired enrollment date.
If the first parent declines, the center's administrative staff would call the second person on the waiting list based on date of application and the desired enrollment date, then the third person on the list, then the fourth, etc.
The center's administrative staff then reports all of the information regarding calls made, enrollments, and declines to the Wait List Administrator for data entry.
There is a one (1) decline policy for the wait list.
- When parents/guardians are offered a space from any of the three (3) child care centers and they decline, the child’s wait list profile will be given a new registration date with the date of the decline for all centers listed on the child's wait list profile..
- Failure to respond to an offer within two (2) business days will be considered a decline, and the child’s wait list profile will be given a new registration date with the date of the decline.
It is imperative for parents to keep the desired enrollment date accurate to avoid enrollment offers at inopportune times that will result in declining frequently. Parents can do this by contacting the Waiting List Administrator at 1-800-777-1720.