March is finally here, and with it comes the highly-anticipated opening of Happy Campers’ new facility. At exactly 7 a.m. on the morning of March 1, Director Heather Chisholm opened the doors to children of staff and residents alike at their new location on Carlmont campus.
The wait was over as soon as the children walked through the doors. However, in order to open on time, Happy Campers had to complete a tedious, three-tiered approval process.
“First, we have to approve the facility and Community Care Licensing which is part of the California Department of Social Services,” Chisholm said. “[The department workers] basically come out and look for play areas, developmentally appropriate surroundings, safety, and they want our cleaning policies. They also check our staff fingerprinting, qualifications, background, that sort of thing.”
Following a thorough search of the daycare and its employees, the process is still not complete until they obtained a business license. Even after the opening day, the facility awaits a play yard in the back.
As of now, the only staff members are Chisholm, assistant director Gina Spaulding, and teacher Daisy Barron. More staff will be hired in accordance with enrollment, as there must be at least one person for every four babies and every six toddlers.
Happy Campers is not only devoted to watching children but teaching them as well.
“We, as the staff, focus on brain development. We are building their pre-reading skills, but mainly we are working on behavior such as teaching them to play with others and to control their emotions and impulses,” Chisholm said. “We also do a lot of pre-screening in these age groups, so we look for learning disabilities, developmental delays, and things of that nature.”
In order to provide developmentally appropriate learning material, the staff must cover education for those 3 months old up to 3 years old. They must also have enough toys and activities to entertain the kids from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Although only five children currently attend the daycare, they are already off to a great start.
Monique Rizkalla, a teacher at Woodside High School, sends her daughter, Lena, to the daycare. After hearing about a “reduced-priced daycare housed within the district,” she and her husband, Christopher Beetley-Hagler who is a teacher at Redwood High School, were quick to enroll.
“We heard amazing things about Happy Campers and were happy to have Lena at such a reputable program. We were also pleased the district was addressing a need for so many staff members,” Rizkalla said.
Through the daycare, the staff hopes to meet the needs of the parents as well as the children.
“That’s one of the goals: keep the families happy, hope they trust us and are happy with what we can give,” staff member Barron said.
According to Rizkalla, they have done just that.
“[The staff] are so friendly. They answered all my questions and made me feel completely comfortable leaving Lena with them,” Rizkalla said. “I am pregnant now, and hope to send my second baby there as well.”