Our Mission

Our mission is to enrich children's lives through innovative support, education and enhanced family and provider services.

Our program puts families at the center of a community of support services.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Fourth of July Pom Poms

Red, white and blue pom poms are a safe way to celebrate the 4th! Inexpensive, fast and easy- you still have time.

pom poms for kids, patriotic crafts for kids,

You will need:
red white and blue tissue paper (one sheet of each for each pom pom)

Lay your red white and blue tissue papers on top of each other.
Fold horizontally on the long side.
Cut into roughly 1 inch strips being careful not to cut through the folded end. Leave an inch or two.

Roll the folded end around the dowel all the way until the end.

Tape the tissue paper in place and to the dowel with a generous piece of tape. We used packing tape. It is best to hold the pom pom down at this point to keep the tissue paper strands from sticking to the tape.

Tie and curl some ribbon for an added visual interest.

Have a Happy & Safe 4th!


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

June 2015 Child Care Referral Data

See what kind of child care parents in El Dorado County were looking for in the month of June -based upon data collected when parents contacted us during this time frame.

If total percentages exceed 100% it is because more than one response or category was recorded for some clients. 


Friday, June 26, 2015

Helping Children with Transitions

Imagine yourself engaged in doing something you really enjoy....reading, painting, exercising, watching your favorite show or a really good movie. The phone rings and it's a call that requires you to stop what you are doing and focus on something less engaging....

Transitions happen to everyone, everyday. For children who have yet to develop higher levels of self-regulation as well as communication skills, daily transitions can be particularly troublesome.

Transitions are simply changes.

  • Transitions can be a change from one activity to another in the same setting. 
  • Transitions can be a change from one setting to another. 
  • Transitions can also be on a larger scale such as a life transition, changing child care, starting Kindergarten, moving or changes in family dynamics.

How transitions effect children will vary based upon their temperament as well as their developmental age. Children may also transition well at some times and depending on variable moods and levels of change in their lives, may have more difficulty at other times.

It is normal for young children to have trouble with transitions. Concepts of time are not fully developed in young children as well as levels of self-regulation needed to see the larger picture of why they need to make the change and they often aren't able to express their feelings or perspective clearly so it just looks like a protest. Parents and caregivers must realize navigating transitions is a learning process for children and will improve with time and development.

What you can do now to help with transitions


  • Look ahead at the schedule and reduce any unnecessary transitions. 
  • Incorporate enough time in the schedule for children to fully engage in their preferred activities. 
  • Create daily routines and keep as many as you can to help reduce the stress, frustration and anxiety associated with the unexpected.
  • Consider creating a picture schedule of the day to help increase predictability.  
  • Build time in your schedule in anticipation of the extra time it may take to work through transitions.
  • Give a warning when a transition is approaching. Use simple language along with visual signals such as pictures, signs or gestures. Timers or minute warnings won't be effective for children who don't have a concept of time. 


  • Break into small steps giving only one direction at a time.
  • Show them how to transition by offering them an interesting way to make the change. (When putting away cars, have them speed up a ramp with sound effects or race each other into the box they are stored in.)
  • Offer limited choices in order to give them safe power and help them deal with their sense of loss.
  • Give them a job related to the next step, offering them a way to transition while providing safe power.
  • Give a transition object with a role in the new activity. (Bring along their favorite stuffed animal to help with the shopping list.)
  • Teach them the expectations for routine transitions. 
  • Listen to their protests. Honoring their feelings will give you insight to why they are having trouble as well as help strengthen your connection with your child. 


  • Immediately acknowledge and praise your child specifically for what they did well during the transition.
  • Review the situation in your mind and think about what techniques might work better next time. 


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Firefly or Fairy Jars

fairy jars, glow in the dark activities for kids
Glow in the dark sticks, wands, bracelets and necklaces are a great thing to have on hand during the summer. If you have a little extra time in the evening hours and an empty jar you can make a firefly or fairy jar to enjoy for the evening.

Adult supervision is required for this activity. 

You will need:
glow in the dark sticks, wands, bracelets or necklaces
strong scissors
glass or plastic jars with lids
glue for jar lids (if young children will be handling)

 Begin by breaking up the stick of glass in the glow in the dark item. Kids can help with this part. It is best to break the glass sealed inside the tube into tiny pieces. Once activated, the adult can cut the tube and shake into the jar. Children can then shake in some glitter. Attach the lid. If small children will be using, use a plastic jar instead and be sure to glue on the top. Children can then gently shake or roll the jar to distribute the phosphorescent fluid and glitter. Enjoy the rest of the evening and tell some old fashioned campfire stories or fairy stories.

Notice a large piece of broken glass near the top of the picture.

Ready for sundown!


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Geocaching with Kids

We have been wanting to share this activity on our blog for awhile now but avoided doing so because we really try to focus on free or low-cost activities. However, as smart phones become more common and GPS units are becoming more affordable we thought better of it this summer.

What is geocaching? (GEE-oh-cash-ing)
Geocaching is using latitude and longitude coordinates to find hidden "treasures". The entire process is organized through geocaching.com. Regular membership is free and you create your own user name and upload an avatar. On the geocaching site you can search near where you live or will be travelling and see a list or a map of hidden caches in the area.

This is a list of caches in our rural 96120 zip code area.

How does it work?
When you select one of the cache buttons, you will see the latitude and longitude of the cache as well as a hint and the size of the hidden container. Containers vary from regular (size of an ammo can) to micro (as small as a small prescription bottle). There are two places to log your find. One is a paper log in the cache itself and the other in on the digital cache log at the geocaching site. Be sure to bring a pen to sign the cache log as not all caches will have one. Once you have looked for the cache, you can log your results in your profile. There is "Found it!" as well as "Didn't Find It". There is also a section to write about your experience. This is a great way for kids to practice writing about their experiences. Other geocache users can read the posts when they are looking for a cache they hope to visit.

For geocaching, you can either us a smart phone with a geocaching app ($10) or a GPS unit. You can pick up a basic GPS unit used on ebay for around $25 or a basic new GPS unit for around $100. You will be looking for a hand-held outdoors model (not an auto model). Obviously, if you already have a smart phone, that is the least expensive option. Additionally, the app is easy to use and even has an option of listing caches near your current location. However, in our area and in many rural areas, the app may not work as it relies on a cell signal. So if you plan on caching in more remote areas, a GPS unit will be worth the investment.

Write down the lat/long and hints in a notebook and enter into your GPS unit. If you are using a smart phone with an app you will just need to select the cache and start navigation.

While selecting a cache to search for, keep in mind the skills and ability of the children you will be bringing. The difficulty on how to get to the cache as well as how hard it is to locate when you get there are rated one a scale of 1-5. For younger children and beginners selected those with "1's" to start with. Larger caches will be more exciting for younger children as well since they will be filled with unknown treasure. If you plan on taking something from the cache, be sure to replace it with an item. Be sure to bring snacks, water, etc. to keep everyone happy and comfortable during the search.

Why Geocache?

Geocaching is a great activity to do as a family or in a group.

Geocaching helps children become familiar with navigation and map reading. You can set your GPS unit to the compass mode to help familiarize children with navigating by compass.

Geocaching is a great way to get outdoors and hike, providing a high interest destination or way-point.

Young children love the "loot" they find and can collect their own cache of treasures and it helps them learn about trading.

Caching can also help children learn about environmental preservation if they follow the cache in-trash out rule. This is when you bring a trash bag and collect any litter to and from the cache. Children should also learn the "leave no trace" principle and tread lightly when looking for the cache.

Geocaching is a great way to get to know your own area better. You can even cache while traveling and see more of the area.

One other tip: Caching in rural areas tends to be easier as their are more places to hide larger containers which are often easier to find. Our experience with urban caches is that it takes a really clever eye to find them hidden among the crowd and since caching is supposed to be done furtively, it can be harder to look thoroughly with a great deal of people nearby.

Give geocaching a try this summer! Happy Hunting :)


Monday, June 15, 2015

Parenting 0-5: Better Behavior part 1

Alpine First 5 hosted an 8 week parenting series, using Active Parenting curriculum presented by Carol Ledesma of Choices for Children, for parents of children 0-5 years old. This is the second post in the blog series "Parenting 0-5 years" allowing us to share some of the information presented in the sessions with those unable to attend.

Session 6: Better Behavior part 1

Children need rules. Having rules shows children how to behave. 

Reasons to set rules:
  • Keep children safe
  • Protect other people
  • Help children make choices
  • Rules make parenting easier
It is important to not make too many rules that children can't remember and that the rules are reasonable. 

Simple rules
Safety (keeping your child safe as well as the safety of others related to your child's behavior)
Responsible (caring your your things and those of the family and others)
Respectful (treating others with kindness and respect)

With younger children, begin with safety and work toward responsibility and respectfulness as they grow. When asking children to follow a "rule" state what you are asking them to do, rather than what you want them to stop. "Please close the door quietly." versus "Don't slam the door." Using a calm and respectful voice is important. Keep in mind that your child will need many reminders over their childhood, with less as they grow older. Encourage good behaviors by noticing and commenting when your child is being safe and following the rules. "Thank you for shutting the door quietly."

When-Then Rule
Using this technique may help your child complete an undesirable task. 
When-then allows your child something to look forward to after they complete the task. 
It is different than a bribe in how it is presented. 
"When you put on your coat when can go out and swing." rather than "We can go out and swing if you put on your coat." or "You can't go outside and swing until you put on your coat." The first approach puts the decision and safe power in the child's hands rather than resorting to begging or coercion. 
Tone of voice is especially important. It should be friendly and firm rather than antagonistic.

Stopping a behavior
When you what your child to stop a behavior start by acknowledging and accepting their feelings. Remind them of the rule and then offer another choice that might help meet the need or wish in an acceptable way. 
"I know you want to throw the ball. We throw balls outside. Would you like to go outside and play ball?"
If she continues to throw the ball inside, you may have to gently take the ball and motion toward the door making a visual choice- in contrast to grabbing the ball and putting away. If she still doesn't choose to play outside you can put the ball up with an offer to play outside when she is ready.

More techniques on guiding behavior......

Remember guidance takes time. Be patient with yourself and your child.