Why is my first contact with Cuddles Academy online and by text?
Over the last 18 years Cuddles Academy Childcare has grown to be a program that is highly regarded and sought out at a level that has exceeded even my own expectations. Our program receives multiple calls and emails per day from families inquiring about care and of course each family's situation and needs are unique, bringing individual questions. I strive to build a personal connection with every family enrolled in our program, and try my best to extend that personalized experience to everyone that reaches out looking for care.
Because there are only so many hours in a day and my priority & focus is on the children in care, I am unable to have a personal call discussing our program with each inquiring family. For this reason I have expanded this website to give a very detailed overview of our program. This is also why I respond to your inquiries through text as a way to start our personalized conversation more quickly rather than delaying until a time that I am able to have a full discussion by phone.
When a space becomes available that may fit your families needs I will call you asap so that we can discuss all aspects of care and build a individualized connection as we begin working together to help guide your little one through many of life's first experiences.
How many children are cared for at Cuddles Academy Childcare?
Cuddles Academy is licensed as a small childcare which allows me to care for up to 8 children at a time. I instead choose to keep the group size smaller and care for 6 children at a time. Provider to child ratio: 1:6
What do I need to bring on the first day of care?
When starting Cuddles Academy Childcare, you will receive a list of items you need to supply for your child. Depending on your child's age and needs this list typically includes: change of clothes, diapers, wipes, diaper cream, clean bottles, and formula/breast milk. Check out Cuddles Academy Welcome Information for more information about items that will help with the transition.
Cuddles Academy provides meals (breakfast, lunch, and snack), and all other materials needed throughout our day.
My child cries when I leave in the morning...How can I support him/her?
Transitions can be confusing for a little one. Children are still learning the concept of time (how long will you be gone?) and object permanence (where do you go when I can't see you?).
I've found that consistency is the number one key in helping a child with any transition.
1) Decide how you want to say goodbye. Here are some examples: choose ahead of time how many kisses you are going to say goodbye with, or have a set pattern (kiss on the forehead, one on each cheek, on lips, hug...and bye bye!), or use the goodbye time to plan something special that you're going to do together after daycare.
2) Be consistent in how long your goodbye lasts - do not linger or return after saying goodbye. If you don't leave (or you come back) when your child cries this teaches them "if I cry then you'll stay." This will lead to more cries to get you to stay, and will be confusing to your child when you cannot stay any longer and leave regardless of crying. In the reverse scenario, if you continue to walk away confident that I am here supporting your child, your confidence will be something your child picks up on. Over time your child will stop crying in the morning and adopt the same confidence in my support and in knowing they'll see you after our day with friends.
Additionally, many children do not yet have the vocabulary to fully express just how much they love you, and that they will miss you. We will both have opportunities to talk with your little one about “that feeling right here” (their heart). Transitions are a great opportunity for us to explain and guide your little one through experiencing emotions.
Do you Potty Train?
Yes, I do assist families with their potty training. There are different methods and theories that are equally successful when introducing a child to the toilet. This is why the decision of when and how to teach your child to use the toilet is yours to make. I will, of course, share what I have found works well and we will work together to find the timing and method that works best for your family.
Before transitioning to underwear children need to be able to: undress & dress themselves with minimal help, get themselves up and down from the toilet, and consistently push pee out. The transition to underwear must be discussed and agreed upon prior to bringing your child to care in underwear.
Here is some information to get started: Using the Toilet at Cuddles Academy
It is important to note that we do not use pull-ups in our childcare. When used as diapers, they do not contain the mess as well and are harder to change. When used for learning to use the toilet, they add confusion by giving a child the choice of using the pull-up or the toilet.
My child has a food allergy. Are you able to accommodate a change in diet?
Your child will need a doctors note for most food substitutions. With the doctors information on file, we will provide an appropriate substitution (example, if your child is allergic to eggs, we will subsitute a different protein such as chicken or cheese.) This is regulated by the USDA food program that oversees our child care, so we will be turning in the documentation and confirming with them through the process.
If you do not have a doctor's verification of an allergy or medical need, please refer to the question below “Our family chooses to follow a specific diet.”
Our family chooses to follow a specific diet. Can I bring food for my child's meals?
You have the choice of either bringing your child's food, or having your child eat the meal we provide. This is a choice for all of our meal service - we are unable to accommodate changes to individual items in our meals. If you choose to provide your own food, the meals will need to be ready to eat (we can re-heat the food, but we can not cook the meal.) We will also discuss how meals will be transported to and from Cuddles Academy to insure proper storage. Your child will be served at the same time as the other children and the food will be pre-plated in portions appropriate for your child’s age. (The children eating our meal will pass around the food items learning to serve themselves.)
It's my child's birthday! (or other special occasion) Can I bring treats to share with the group?
Yes, with the following limitations:
1) All food served to the children is prepared meeting food safety standards (I have received training and obtained CA Food Handlers Card). To consistently meet this standard, any food brought by families to share with the group must be store bought (this can include purchased bakery items).
2) It is very important to please speak with me first so that we can discuss any allergies or limitations that children in care may have.
Please make sure to speak with me before bringing food. This will avoid disapointment if I am unable to serve the item to the children in care. Also, there are other great options for celebrating with friends such as: treat bags, stickers, and coloring pages.
Where can I get help paying for childcare?
There are subsidy programs set up to help families pay for childcare costs. Information and links to these programs are listed on our Resources page.
Check with your employer to see if they offer a Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA). These accounts allow you to use pretax dollars for qualified childcare expenses. Note that using this account may change the amount of dependent care tax credit you will be eligible for at the end of the year, and has other stipulations to learn about before deciding if it's right for your family.
What are some steps I can take to verify that a childcare program is good?
For a list of best practices, click on our Resources page and scroll to the bottom. This breaks down the different things to consider such as safety, curriculum, and environment to help you asses if the child care program will meet your needs.
Here are some additional suggestions for evaluating both childcare centers and childcare homes:
1) You are able to look up a facility's licensing reports through the California State Licensing website https://secure.dss.ca.gov/CareFacilitySearch/. Here you can see if any complaints have been filed against the facility, and read the full reports from inspections. You are able to search by the “Facility Name,” but the easiest way to search will be using the licensing number or “Facility Number.” Legally all childcare's are required to list their licensing number on any advertizements/websites, but if you cannot locate it they should be able to easily provide it to you.
2) If a childcare chooses to have other certifications and affiliations this may be seen as a sign that they are serious about their responsibilities and that they see themselves as professionals. (Note that this is not a requirement, simply a suggestion of signs that may help you feel comfortable in your choice.) Does the facility have other certifications beyond the required state licensing? Are they affiliated with other child development organizations?
3) Most importantly, pay attention to your instincts. When I first opened Cuddles Academy Childcare, I only had one state inspection, no additional certifications, and was affiliated with only one other organization. ;) We all have to start somewhere. Years later, I asked my very first childcare parent why they chose me. “I could tell your heart was in the right place, that you were being sincere.” Examples of what to look for: How comfortable does the provider seem when discussing the childcare? Is the environment clean and safe? If so, does it appear that this is the natural state, or that it was cleaned for your appointment?
4) One final note: Check in with your provider throughout your time in care and pay attention to any changes that your notice during drop off and pick up. In both childcare homes and centers, the childcare environment and care can be effected by business or personal stress that workers may have.