DEL NORTE— After a year of trials and tribulations, Del Norte’s newest daycare will be celebrating their one-year anniversary come July. The Lil’ Tikes Academy has been busy working through the past year to improve, change and add to the already much-needed program and has a full list of things to keep them busy for the coming year.
Academy owner Cindy Owens has welcomed several children from the area and has grown to love each and every one of them as if they were her family. “I have had one child from six weeks old and he just lights up every time his parents drop him off. We are like a family here at Lil’ Tikes,” stated Owens.
The daycare can receive a total of 28 children at any given time, which is the most a facility can take in the immediate area. Owens also stated that the daycare takes children ages six weeks to five and helps parents with transitional periods through the years. “We help support parents with moving children from one stage to the next, whether it is potty training or moving through foods from infancy to toddler,” said Owens. She and her assistant Kathy Banhagel are both trained professionals and treat their job as a fun and interactive choice for parents and children.
“I absolutely love working here. The children are great and it is a wonderful environment to be in,” stated Banhagel. The facility assistant director is a certified teacher and uses her background in education to help increase the learning atmosphere for the children. “I enjoy having Kathy here. She has been a wonderful asset to the academy and I hope to never lose her,” said Owens. The curriculum at the academy aids with basic educational skills for child participants through interactive learning activities.
Owens is currently seeking financial assistance through several daycare-based grants throughout the state. “We have had a lot of positive changes over the last year and there is more to come,” said Owens. One of the main goals for Owens in the near future is to add to the outside play area for the children. The daycare is currently accepting outdoor toy donations for anyone who would like to donate. The facility is also always accepting any other daycare related items such as food, diapers, dishes, decorations or monetary donations.
Recently, the facility constructed separate rooms for each of the age groups that attend, making it much easier to work with each set of children and plan age appropriate activities. Several area organizations, including the Red Hats Society have come to the daycare to partake in activities and help with community awareness.
The academy is a 501(c)(3) organization that also works with the state to accept the Childcare Assistance Program which helps parents pay for daycare expenses. A celebration for their one-year anniversary is in the works, and Owens will be inviting the community to come and join in the fun. “We have been very productive and there will be more changes to come before the year is over,” said Owens. More information will be available soon.