Child Learning Academies

Child Learning Academies

RISD created high-quality child-care programs as one of its staff recruitment and retention tools. The Child Learning Academies serve children of full-time RISD employees starting at 6 weeks old through when the child becomes eligible for Pre-K at age 3. To be eligible, the employee’s child must not have turned 3 years old before Sept. 1. Infants must be at least 6 weeks old to enter the program.
  • Little Eagles CLA: 1231 W. Belt Line Rd. – opened August 2023
  • Little Mustangs CLA: Located at the back of Canyon Creek Elementary, 2100 Copper Ridge Dr.
Registration is on-going for the 2023-24 school year. Employee demand has exceeded current available space, and therefore a lottery system is utilized to award seats. Registration for the 2024-25 school year will take place early in the spring semester and will be communicated in RISD Notes.
RISD recognizes the initial opening of the child learning academies may not meet all employee preferences, requests, or individual situations. The district intends to consider additional locations and capacity for the future, which will allow for additional flexibility and more seats to accommodate more employee families.
Child learning academy little eagles Richardson ISD

Little Eagles CLA

1231 W. Belt Line Rd.
Child learning academy little mustangs Richardson ISD

Little Mustangs CLA

2100 Copper Ridge Dr.

Enrollment FAQs

Children of any RISD full time employees may attend one of the district’s two Child Learning Academies. Third party contracted employees are not eligible for RISD employee benefits. The CLA programs will serve children of full time Richardson ISD employees starting at 6 weeks old, until they are eligible for Pre-K at age 3. To be eligible, employee children must be born and have not turned 3 before September 1. Infants must be 6 weeks old to enter the program.

Children born after Sept. 1 will be eligible for registration (and lottery if necessary) the following year. Children age 3 or older on Sept. 1 are not eligible for the CLA program and are welcome to enroll in RISD’s Pre-K 3 program.

There are currently two CLA locations and each have a finite number of spaces, or “seats” within the different age ranges. If demand among employee families exceeds available seats, a lottery will be held to award seats.

Children are served within the age ranges as follows:

  • Younger infants
  • Older infants
  • Younger toddlers
  • Older toddlers
  • Younger 2s
  • Older 2s

Space availability within these age ranges generally impact what children are awarded seats through a lottery system. Students who are age 3 or over on September 1 are not eligible for the CLA program, and are welcome to enroll in RISD’s Pre-K 3 program

Yes, if space is available. RISD prioritizes CLA staff children when space is available.
One lottery will be conducted for both CLA locations among all eligible employee children who are registered by the registration deadline, and seats will be awarded based on a combination of the lottery outcome, the age of children registered, and available space within each age range served. In an effort to keep families and siblings together, if a family has multiple eligible children registered, and a student is awarded a seat through the lottery, their siblings will also be awarded seats, based on available space within the relevant age range.
The year one lottery will not have weights or priorities. With the program launching at two locations for the 2023-24 school year, and demand expected to exceed available seats, the district believes all full time RISD employee family children of eligible age should have an equal opportunity to utilize the program. It is important to note that in an effort to keep families and siblings together, if a family has multiple eligible children registered, and a child is awarded a seat through the lottery, their siblings will also be awarded seats, based on available space within the relevant age range. Siblings will not be placed over children or families who finish higher in the lottery.

Registration will open on February 1, 2023 at 5 pm for the 2023-24 school year that begins in August. Registration will remain open for two weeks, closing on February 15, 2023 at 5 pm. Children who are registered after February 15th cannot be considered for seats until after initial placements are made among children who were registered by the deadline. If demand for seats exceeds available space, a lottery will be utilized among eligible children registered before the deadline. Initial placement notifications are projected to be made in March, 2023. All registrants will be notified, whether they have been awarded a seat initially or not.

The CLA program will keep all registrations active and utilize a new lottery to fill any vacant seats throughout the school year, based on the same space available parameters.
The CLA program will keep all registrations active and use initial lottery results to determine subsequent placements unless additional employees have registered. If additional employees have registered since a previous lottery, a new lottery will be conducted to fill any vacant seats throughout the school year after sibling requests from currently enrolled families are considered.

The CLA program is a staff recruitment and retention program, and new lotteries are conducted for additional seat openings to allow new RISD teachers and staff a chance to utilize the program.

The priority order to fill seats that open during the program year is as follows:

  1. Siblings of currently enrolled CLA students for whom no space was available after the family was awarded a seat in the initial lottery – based on age and space available for the open seat.
  2. If no additional full time employee families have registered since the initial lottery, the initial lottery results will determine subsequent placements.
  3. If one or more full time employee families have registered since the previous lottery, then a new lottery will be conducted to award subsequent seats. The CLA program is a staff recruitment and retention program, and new lotteries are conducted for additional seat openings to allow new RISD teachers and staff a chance to utilize the program.
Each eligible child is considered in the lottery. In an effort to keep families and siblings together, if a family has multiple eligible children registered, and a child is awarded a seat through the lottery, their siblings will also be awarded seats at that point, based on available space within the relevant age range. Siblings will not be placed over children or families who finish higher in the lottery. The parent will have the choice to enroll only children for whom space is available if they wish.
One lottery will be conducted for both CLA locations, and award seats based on the age of the child and available space. When registering, parents can express a location preference, which will be taken into account if a child (and potential siblings) is awarded a seat through the lottery.
Transferring to a different CLA will not be an option during the school year. However, at the end of the year, parents may request a transfer. Requests will be evaluated based on original lottery placement and space available.
Yes, if your child is awarded a seat they will be guaranteed a seat in the next classroom the following year. Subsequent year lotteries will only apply to children who do not already have a space.
As with other siblings, new eligible siblings of children currently enrolled in an CLA will be awarded a seat based on available space and will not have to be entered into a separate lottery. This only applies if the currently-enrolled child is eligible and enrolled in the program the following year, and the infant is born before September 1.
Yes, but not necessarily at the Pre-K campus of first choice. If demand exceeds available space at a campus, a lottery will be utilized to award seats.
There is no fee to register, which is the process of determining demand within each age range and awarding seats if necessary through a lottery based on available space. There is a one time non refundable enrollment fee of $100 per child due upon seat acceptance.
An annual supply fee will deducted from your January paycheck to help offset the cost of paper goods, health and sanitary materials, art supplies, and classroom supplies. The annual fee is $50 for students in the infant classrooms and $100 for all other enrolled students.
Yes, parents of children who are awarded a seat through the registration process will be required to complete the RISD online enrollment process.
Tuition for each enrolled child will be $350/month in year one, payable through payroll deduction. The tuition rates do not cover the overall cost of offering the CLA programs to employees, with RISD subsidizing operating costs through district funds.
Yes, the CLA programs are an RISD teacher and employee recruitment and retention initiative. A child’s continued CLA enrollment is contingent upon the continued full time RISD employment of at least one parent. Employees who voluntarily depart or are terminated from full time RISD employment forfeit their child(ren)’s seat(s) in the CLA programs. If an employee departs RISD and later returns, previously-enrolled CLA children must be re-registered as new students, and previous lottery placement can no longer apply.
Only if a grandparent is the court appointed/documented guardian of the child.
If a parent chooses to take a maternity leave that extends past 6 weeks of age, the employee may hold the seat for up to an additional 6 weeks for the $350/month fee (prorated if needed).

Daily Operations FAQs

The first CLA location at 1231 W. Belt Line Road Belt Line Rd is expected to open in August 2023. The second CLA location within Canyon Creek Elementary is expected to open in January, 2024 in time for the second semester.
Summer options will be available for 226 contract day employees and 187 contract day employees who are working over the summer, such as in summer school.
Summer (or mass break) attendance is not required for children of 226 employees. Those children are guaranteed a spot for the next school year if they remain of eligible age, and staff will only be charged for the months (or partial months) each child attends a CLA. Summer care options are available only for staff who are working during that time (employees working summer school, 226 day employees and potentially 261 day employees), if space is available. Note that for some families, summer CLA services may be provided at a different site than school-year services based on need.

Both CLA locations will be able to accommodate employee children from 6:45 am to 5:30 pm on school days and non-employee holidays per the RISD calendar.

No. Due to the anticipated demand for the program, and RISD subsidizing the cost to employees, there cannot be part-time enrollment. Enrolled children are expected to attend daily on a regular basis, with normal exceptions (illness, appointments, etc.)
Each location is designed with the same double buzz in/secure vestibule protocol used at RISD schools. As RISD facilities, CLAs will be subject to RISD Safety & Security coverage during operating hours. Each enrolled family will be granted badge access for two adults (one of whom must be a full time RISD employee) during a specified time window for drop off and pick up. Any non-employee receiving an access badge must first be successfully processed through the background check process via RISD Human Resources. If the non-employee does not pass the background check, another person will have to be chosen.

Parents/adults of enrolled children must display their district-issued badge at all times while on CLA property, and all parents/adults will be required to use the same door to enter/exit the facility. An adult dropping off or picking up a child who does not have a district-issued badge will have to be buzzed in, and identification may be required (matching the list of parent-provided emergency contacts) if someone is picking up a child without a badge. A staff member will escort the child to class after arrival and bring the child from the classroom to the lobby for pick up. Doors will remain locked at all times, and can only be unlocked by CLA staff or adults who have a district-issued badge.
There are not any district-sponsored programs of this nature planned at this time.
Yes. Prior to the start of each school year, an evening will be dedicated to an open house/meet the teacher event.
No. CLA staff training will be conducted outside of the hours and days of operation. RISD’s goal is for employee families to be able to count on CLA operations during normal working days during an adopted RISD calendar.

No, parents will be responsible for providing ready to eat meals/lunch, two snacks daily and/or bottles.

Most CLA children will not be of age to receive Special Education services from RISD. We encourage parents to partner with Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) if needed, and CLA staff can then work together to meet a child’s individual needs. If a child turns 3 while in a CLA and meets criteria for special education services at that time, the ARD committee can design an IEP, and then the district will determine how to provide appropriate services in partnership with the CLA program.
Yes. Private accommodations will be available for any mother wishing to pump or breastfeed on site. RISD employees may do so during drop off or pick up windows. Non RISD employee mothers may come and nurse at any point during the operating day.
CLA programs will provide daily parent communication through an app with individual student information, provide a monthly newsletter/calendar, and display a parent information board outside each classroom. The parent information board will consist of lesson plans, snack menus, staff introductions and a monthly calendar of events.
Yes. Evening and/or weekend events will be scheduled several times a year.
Yes, however all security items must meet licensing standards and remain in the child’s personal cubby outside of rest time.

Parent-provided supplies will vary by age of student and can include items such as diapers, diaper cream, sunscreen, bottles with formula/breast milk, baby food and cereal, a well rounded lunch, snacks, water bottle/sippy cup, sleep sack, etc.

Wipes, burp cloths, mealtime bibs, cots, sheets, blankets, gloves, and cleaning supplies.

Surfaces and materials will be sanitized at the end of each day and as needed if an accident occurs. Any materials coming in contact with bodily fluid or soiled will be removed from use and cleaned/sanitized before re-use. Sheets and blankets are washed weekly and/or more frequently if soiled.
CLA sites will be ventilated in compliance with state standards. Additionally, each classroom will have an air purifier unit.

Staffing and Environment FAQs

High quality care is RISD’s priority in the CLA programs, and the district will strive to operate at ratios below what state daycare licensing mandates.
Personnel staffing the CLAs will be RISD employees who have undergone a background check, training, and demonstrate an aptitude for child care and development. CLA staff will be compensated at rates typically exceeding the daycare industry average, and full time staff are eligible for benefits. RISD anticipates the CLA programs will attract very capable and experienced staff.
Each class will move up together at the beginning of every school year. CLA programs are designed to meet and accommodate each child at their developmental level regardless of age, allowing them to progress at their pace. On rare occasions, a child may change classes mid year to best accommodate their needs.
All schedules will include free play and exploration in the classroom, indoor and outdoor gross motor play, music and fingerplays, story times, scheduled naps, and feeding/meals based on individual and classroom needs.
CLA programs will use the Texas Infant, Toddler and Three-Year-Old Guidelines as the foundation for our lessons and activities. Frog Street curriculum will be utilized as a resource in all classes to support those guidelines.
RISD security cameras will be in place in each classroom and throughout each CLA facility. However, cameras will not be accessible to parents during the day and are in place for the safety of both children and staff.
Yes. A canopy is in the design to cover a portion of the playground. CLA staff will follow district guidelines for outdoor activities based on weather, forecasts and individual student needs.
Each teacher will use an iPad in each classroom, and an interactive whiteboard will be available in the indoor play area.
Katy Phinney

Contact Us

For more information about the Child Learning Academies, contact Katy Phinney at or at 469-593-0808.

Child Learning Academy FAQs: