Annual Diaper Drive Success at CFC (Choices for Children)

The Annual Diaper Drive, founded in 2014, is a seasonal effort of Choices for Children (CFC) in El Dorado County to ensure families in need do not go without diapers. Stacy Smithee, who took lead on organizing the program in 2015, discussed with us in length the processes and resources needed to guarantee success of the program. She along with several other CFC staff work on coordination and bringing awareness to the drive that is necessary each year. It is a group collaboration among the CFC office to plan and execute the program.  

Each drive runs for about two weeks at a time and donations are received in multiple different ways. A large number are received from the Jet Cares Program, which allows nonprofits to receive donations at a lower cost as well as receive free shipping on orders. Donation bins are also on site to collect donations and local libraries will accept donations as well. 

One of the biggest challenges, Stacy emphasizes, is that when it comes to relying on physical donations, is that there is often in a surplus of certain sizing and in a deficit of another, hence they welcome monetary donations as well. CFC aims to have about a year’s supply of diapers on hand as there is always a need year-round. Donations are also received via word of mouth or from past donors who partake in the donation event annually. To ensure there is always a surplus of diapers readily available, CFC applies for grants via community agencies and averages about $1000 monetary donations a year though it is variable. This helps offset any deficit there might be in sizing when it comes to physical donations. 

Networking support plays an integral role in donation factors. CFC will send flyers to smaller agencies about upcoming diaper drives and cards to past donors with the encouragement to donate again each year. Social media and print advertisements are also relied on heavily to spread the word. There are also a large number of past donors who donate to the drive annually and play a large role in the success of the program.  

Even though the Diaper Drive is only a two-week program, donations are accepted throughout the year and open packages of diapers from parents whose children transition from sizes or from childcare providers who accumulate diapers are also accepted.  

Roughly, 30 families a month seek assistance from the program and each family will receive about 30-35 diapers per pack as the assistance is designed to be supplemental. However, CFC realizes there is current need for ongoing help and works to support those families by providing them with community resources with each donation. These resources include, classes, events kids expos etc. CFC works hard to connect with parents and developing a relationship that fosters trust.  

The next diaper drive is anticipated to begin between September 21st and 25th in 2020. Stacy was proud to report that they have not encountered any abuse of the system since it has been in place. 

Insights From the Field – A Program Director with a passion!

Our staff’s passion for teaching lives in each of our centers and for Program Director, Alyssa Scholes, it’s no different. She lives and thrives in serving children and families. Alyssa has over 20 years of experience in child development, from infants to school age in roles ranging from teaching aide to program director.  

In 2013, Alyssa joined the CDC team as a Site Supervisor for Cherry Chase in San Jose, CA. She’s earned many successes along the way, including growing into the Program Director role last year. Currently, Alyssa is responsible for the operations of 6 centers in the Bay Area.  

We sat down with Alyssa earlier this month to ask her a little bit more about her career path and life at CDC.  

How long have you been with CDI? Have you had any other roles/titles with us? 

6 years this year – June 2013. I started at Regnart CDC as a Site Supervisor and quickly transferred over to Cherry Chase. In July 2018, I was promoted to the Program Director position. I currently oversee Regnart, Eaton, Mordock Portal, Faria, Garden Gate, and Cherry Chase centers. 

Tell me about your career and educational background. What roles were you in prior to coming to CDI? 

Growing up, my mom was in Early Childhood Education and in kindergarten, I declared ‘I want to be a Teacher’. I started off at junior college taking 2 child development classes. At the same time, I was also hired as teacher’s aide working with 3-year olds. I stayed and over a few years, became head teacher after finishing my 12 core units. In 1996, I moved to Kiddie Academy as a head teacher and shortly became director. In 2000, my family purchased the program and I ran it for 10 years as the owner and director. In 2010, we sold the business and shortly after, I joined the CDC team as a Site Supervisor.  

What is one memory at CDC that was most impactful to your career? 

For my career, it would have to be my connection with my program director as a site supervisor. She supported my growth, career, and goals. She encouraged me to pursue further classes and education to complete my degree and really helped to support me to become a program director. This support was a change of pace, and the encouragement (to reach my personal goals and dreams) is nothing like I had ever experienced before. 

In addition, I’d have to say the transformation that Cherry Chase CDC went through from when I started to when I was promoted. When I started with CDC, the center was in transition with 56 kids enrolled, and over the course of 2 years we grew enrollment by nearly 150%. In the center’s growth, it was our priority to listen to our families. We also focused on our services, whether it be clubs or homework support, to best support our families. It was important to the staff that we build our community – through events, dinners, collaboration with the school and helping on campus. As a site supervisor, I also focused on building my team, setting them up with resources and supporting them to achieve their goals. At the end of the day, we were all there for the same community.  

What do you enjoy most about being a PD? What’s your biggest challenge? 

What I enjoy most are the communities, partnerships, families, and staff interactions. I enjoy working alongside the communities and districts. Being able to be a part of those communities and make a difference. 

My biggest challenge is time – it’s important for me to be present in each program weekly.  

What does a typical day look like? 

Every day is different. I build out my calendar monthly. In the morning, I check emails and check-in with any necessary needs. During the day, I’m mostly spending time in programs, visiting centers, and working hands-on with staff. I also hold weekly one-on-ones with my site supervisors, as well as work to develop resources and provide support. Additionally, I lead STEM based curriculum training (maker & tinkering, digital photography/videography training, stop motion and Minecraft). STEM is a personal passion of mine.  

Tell me something that you think makes our organization unique. 

There’s not one something that makes us unique. We invest in our people, asking ‘where do you want to go?’, ‘let’s talk about how you can grow’.  

The sheer number of families we can serve due to our size.  

We have an emergent curriculum – where we cater to the interest of our children. We focus on building that ‘whole child’. 

Closures Due to California Power Outages

Due to regional power outages throughout California, some of our centers and offices may be effected. As we learn more, we will continue to post any updates here.

Center and Office Closures: Reopened Centers and Offices:

(Last updated November 4, 2019 at 8:06 a.m.)

Critter Chronicles : A look at the pets of CDC

Are you partial to a laid-back fish? Or maybe a more affectionate bunny. Or is a scaly amphibian more your speed? Visit a few of our CDC sites and you’ll find a veritable menagerie of animals chosen to appeal to different groups of kids in different communities with often very different opinions on all things pet.

Many centers are home to a “class pet.” You’ll recognize the tell-tale cage as you enter the room, or the unobtrusive fish tank in the corner, or the…wait, is that a giant lizard?!

Indeed, Del Norte CDC is home to Rango, who has been part of the Del Norte family for years. He’s one of many lizards that have taken up CDC residence across the state. When kids get to make the choice, it seems they often gravitate toward the scaly and sedate. The same CDC is also home to Freddy the frog, goldfish named after teachers, Abraham, Guille, Sandra, Keri, and Lourdes as well as countless (and thus, nameless) walking sticks. “The children learn by having responsibilities but at the same time they learn empathy toward animals,” points out Site Supervisor Jennifer E.  “We at Del Norte teach the children that every animal, insects, and even, spiders have a purpose in the world. If we see a child who wants to step on a bug outside, teachers engage with the child before the child steps on the bug and asks why they would step on the bug. Teacher and child have a discussion about the bug and where the bug might be traveling and wonder if they are they going home? Do they have a family? Were they visiting other bugs? Once these questions are asked, the child seems to rethink stepping on them but end up having more questions and curiosity about them.”

Del Norte is no exception – each animal at CDC across the state is chosen to be the best match to a specific group of kids. Some prefer something they can cuddle; others prefer something that’s just really cool. Others prefer no animal in the class at all. CDC makes every effort to create a place that reflects the needs of their community, their families and their kids, and the process involved in bringing a pet into the family is no exception.

Sometimes the kids themselves force the issue. At Vista Verde CDC, students Sabrina and Sarah wrote a compelling letter to regional leadership to make the case for a “room three pet” as rooms one and two already had theirs. Sabrina and Sarah pointed out that an “interactive pet” would teach responsibility and improve behavior and create good habits. In the end, they did indeed get a room three pet –Hunter the bearded dragon (continuing the theme that, yes, lizards are always an awesome addition to the family), who joins other center pets like Rosie, a magnificent tarantula and ten-year site veteran.

Bearded dragons are a particularly popular choice for site pets. At Tafoya CDC in Woodland, D.J. and Squiggy are the resident pets. “I have tried a number of other center pets and have come to love reptiles because they are quiet, easy care, minimum smell and still something the children can handle and actively engage with,” says Site Supervisor Tana R.E. “Bearded dragons in particular are very responsive to people, so when the children walk up to their enclosures and talk with them, the Beardies will tilt their heads and look at them etc. Plus, they are just fun!”

In the realm of the “more fluff, fewer scales,” we have Del Mar CDC which just saw the hatching of a nest of incubated chicks. “This long-term project came about because the children are interested in chickens and chicks,” says Site Supervisor Sonia G.R. “They are also interested in animals that get adopted. Our dramatic area is a pet adoption agency. We had the opportunity to borrow an incubator and some eggs, that would eventually go back to the ranch that they had come from. Since we were talking about adoption, we simply explained the eggs would be with us till they hatched, then they would be adopted and stay at their forever home after.” (Del Mar is also home to a collection of sea slugs – hey, they can’t all be adorable!)

Whether they fly, crawl, hop or…whatever it is that sea slugs do exactly, animals are very much a part of many CDCs. They help kids learn responsibility and empathy and provide a connection to another living creature. Not every group of students feel the need for an animal in their midst, but for those who do, there’s a pretty good chance they’ll find one at their local CDC.

End of Summer Camp Carnival at Young Set!

Summer 2019 has officially come to an end, and we wanted to show you some highlights from our last week of Young Set Club Camp. Each week of camp at Young Set Club is based on a theme, and at the end of each camp session, we celebrate with a fun-filled carnival.  

Camp Carnival is an annual tradition over at our Young Set Club location in El Dorado Hills. This year marked the third anniversary of the ‘Candy Land Carnival’. Over the final week of summer camp, campers worked on building and creating carnival games for Carnival Day, the final day of camp, where the entire family is invited to attend.  

The week is filled with fun, with game activities including face paintings, a pinata, candy walks, popcorn booths, lemonade booths, and even an area to create space food, which was from the camp curriculum. This year, campers created space foods like tang, pudding in a bag and used a straw to eat and drink with. Campers also took the opportunity to showcase the archery skills they learned over the summer to their families.  

The annual celebration concluded with a final Young Set Club song rendition with campers and their families. Campers also had the opportunity to win prizes, and pie face their camp counselors!  

Carnival Day fun was not complete without a prize for each camper along with a fortune egg that included inspirational quotes like “Team work makes the dream work”, “Never give up”, “Take chances and be brave”, and much more.   

Here are just a few of the many amazing creations by our campers this year! 

If you’re interested in learning more about our camp programs next year, follow us on Facebook for updates on next year’s programs and early registration.  

Company Merger Announcement

As of July 1, 2019, our company has merged into one nonprofit company, Continuing Development Inc. Click here to learn more about our company merger.

Altamont Ribbon Cutting

We’re proud to announce our expansion in the bay area with our new center, Altamont CDC! A ribbon cutting and open house was held on December 6th, 2018 to celebrate the new location in Mountain House, CA. Altamont CDC is proud to offer preschool programs to the Mountain House community. The center first opened its doors on September 17th, 2018 and has 4 rooms.

Those in attendance included Tracy Chamber of Commerce, the Associate Superintendent Thorsten Harrison, Jodi Delfino–Sr. Program Director, Amy Cabral-Jones– Site Supervisor and teachers along with parents and several staff members from the regional offices.

 

 

Lights on Afterschool

Several of our centers celebrated Lights on Afterschool, an annual event in October that commemorates the importance of afterschool programs in the lives of children, families and communities. Our Quail Valley center in Menifee participated in the event with a series of activities at the center throughout the week for both the children and their families. The children toured CDC families and school staff throughout the program, showing off what they were working on in Fashion, STEM and Gardening Clubs. On Tuesday, families were invited to attend a cultural day in which they played an active role in reading and cooking to celebrate diversity. The center hosted a CDC’s Got Talent Show on Thursday with families based on their month long talent club. They practiced, planned and created using groups to make the needs of the show including backdrop, flyers and refreshments. They performed group dances, magic tricks and singing. Friday concluded the week with a friendship and kindness day.  It was an opportunity to disconnect from tech and electronics. The kids played board games and card games, handed out Kind bars donated by Lights on After School & The Kind Co and completed random acts of kindness.

 

 

 

Robert J. McGarvey Ribbon Cutting

On September 27th, 2018, Robert J. McGarvey CDC hosted its ribbon cutting in celebration of providing the children and families of Robert J. McGarvey Elementary School with before and after school and camp programs since the opening of the school last year. This is our first program in Rancho Cordova.

This event commemorates a milestone for Robert J. McGarvey CDC, which began providing licensed school age service in July 2017 and recently moved into their permanent portable this past June. Those in attendance included members of the Executive Team for Child Development Centers and staff from the local regional office, Rancho Cordova Chamber of Commerce members and staff as well as a variety of business and civic leaders and members in the community.

 

Cardboard Challenge at Knott CDC

The Cardboard Challenge is a yearlong event that celebrates children’s collaborative effort to build projects using cardboard materials. In conjunction, The Global Day of Play takes place on the first Saturday of October each year and encourages families, friends and the community to come out and celebrate children’s creative efforts throughout the year. Families at Knott CDC celebrated the event by building several projects out of cardboard. The children were divided into groups and planned out the projects they would build. Castles and houses were just a few to name of the many amazing pieces.