Pumpkin Patch Early Learning Center - Unorganized, Unreliable, Unsafe
Pumpkin Patch is a child care facility located in Helena, MT that offers care for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. Classes are divided into two separate buildings/units. There is a side for younger children/toddlers and side for older children/preschoolers. As of the day this report was written, there are currently three excellent teachers at Pumpkin Patch, two of these are located in the toddler section and 1 in the preschool section. I should note that the director is not one of these three teachers. This child care facility has high turnover rate for teachers throughout the year our children were enrolled. There were several teachers that quit or were fired for reasons unknown to the parents. The director would send out parent newsletters trashing her former teachers/employees and advising parents to not contact these “disgruntled employees”, which was extremely unprofessional. The director at Pumpkin Patch is unorganized with the business and the children. Record keeping and incident reports are non-existent. As parents we had normal concerns and questions arise which went ignored or viewed as unimportant by the director. Over the course of a year the director would confirm meeting times/dates only to cancel at the last minute for a variety of unimportant reasons. During the times we were able to meet the director would get agitated or offended when bringing up simple questions/concerns. The director will constantly reassure you that Pumpkin Patch is the best child care facility in Helena and that she has 100s of families on a waiting list. She will tell you all about her high credentials including her bachelor's degree and currently working to obtain her master's degree in Montessori. She will tell constantly remind you that she is the founder, owner, and director and that everything in the facility is about her and her alone. Pumpkin Patch program policy/contract is extremely confusing with many grammatical and spelling errors. As parents we had questions regarding the language in the contract which went unanswered. The director will post pictures of your children (regardless of whether you've given consent) to the business Facebook page which is open to the public and not private as she claims. Simple door access to the building was very frustrating as codes to enter the two separate doors were never given after installation and took over a month to obtain after several email requests. The codes to both doors constantly changed for some reason leaving you locked out. As a result we were required to pound on the window or walk around to the outside play area to get the attention of a teacher to allow access to the property to either drop off or pick up our children. Our child was harassed and attacked on several occasions by another child and we were told it was "just part of their development" and "boys will be boys". The facility was recently closed for several days by the local health department due to an outbreak of influenza B. The director advised there would be a refund for the closure, but has failed to make good on her word. Children here were allowed and encouraged to help clean the restroom/toilet area. I witnessed children using and being exposed to excessive amounts of bleach and the dangerous vapors given off by bleach. There was also an incident where the facility was opened at normal time 7:30am and several kids were dropped off by parents without realizing there was not a teacher present on the preschool side of the building. A set of parents stayed and attended to the children until the director showed nearly 20 minutes later without giving an explanation or showing concern that there were several unattended children at the facility without a caregiver present. There was a similar incident with unattended children that was filed by a former parent with the Montana Department of Health and Human Services on 9/23/2015. An investigation was done by the State of Montana and concluded that there were violations of staff ratios and programs issues regarding supervision. Investigators reported that "caregivers did not supervise children at all times. During a field trip on 9/21/2015, 15 children were in the care of 2 caregivers when a child walked away from the group and was found by an adult not associated with the facility. There were 5 other inspections done by Montana DPHHS where multiple violations were recorded including: inside the facility (building/fire requirements), preventative health issues, medication, written records regarding parent information and facility records, child file reviews, caregiver file reviews. You can call DPHHS or visit their website for more information on these violations. The bottom line with Pumpkin Patch and it’s director, if you ask too many questions or have too many concerns she will advise you that you are “not a good fit for Pumpkin Patch” and ultimately terminate your enrollment and then request you pay for an additional 30 days for her “courtesy notice”. I would never recommend this child care facility to anyone looking for quality care in Helena as the director is one of the most selfish, uneducated, unorganized people we’ve come across in the child care industry. Do yourself a favor and look elsewhere! Stay away from Pumpkin Patch Early Learning Center!
- Toddler group
- Poor communication
Reason of review
Poor customer service
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