Lydia Valenti
The Redmond Spokesman

Whoopsy Daisy Child Care: 1350 NW Canal Blvd., 541-548-3049, whoopsydaisychildcare.com

Whoopsy Daisy might be the most unusual daycare in Redmond.

Located upstairs in elder care facility Country Side Living Memory Care, the kids, primarily ages 3 to 6, get to interact with “grandpals,” who live onsite and participants in Thelma’s Place, a daytime program providing home caregivers of the elderly with respite hours.

All three programs are under the same roof, an intergenerational design by founder Erik Berkey, who also runs a similar group of organizations in Canby.

Shana Franco is the director of Whoopsy Daisy — which like Thelma’s Place is a nonprofit organization. The daycare and preschool opened two years ago, offering “not only ABCs and 123s, but also teaching the kids morals, values, and compassion,” Franco said.

Franco explained that young childhood is the perfect time to introduce kids to the idea that others, including the elderly, might be different — having difficulty speaking or remembering, needing a wheelchair or other assistance — but have a lot to offer in terms of friendship and life experience.

The daycare has a designated space, but the children and teachers go downstairs for an hour each morning to spend time with the residents of Country Side Living.

They begin each visit with the Pledge of Allegiance and then have a visiting time for the children and grandpals, followed by activities directed by daycare staff and caregivers.

There are 35 residents and 10 participants in Thelma’s Place, and all have memory problems of varying severity. They encouraged to participate in a variety of activities, including the time with Whoopsy Daisy, music therapy and interacting with the onsite therapy dog.

“There are a lot of options,” Franco said.

Music is especially important, Franco said. The residents may not be able to tell you about their breakfast, but when listening to music from their youth they can tell you where they were the first time they heard a particular song.

The children learn and sing classic songs like “How Much is that Doggy in the Window” or “London Bridge is Falling Down” with their grandpals. They also celebrate birthdays together, have craft days, go on occasional outings and twice a week share a meal together.

Rita, one of the residents of Country Side Living and a former foster parent, said the time with the kids is the highlight of her day.

“I get up and dance with them,” she said.

Healthy touch is something encouraged — with plenty of staff supervision. Whoopsy Daisy, which currently has 18 kids enrolled, could operate with only two teachers — a one to 10 ratio of teachers to children — but has four teachers instead. Caregivers from Country Side Living are also present, helping ensure a friendly and beneficial exchange between young and old.

The cost for full-time childcare — 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday — is $650 per month, with lower rates for part-time enrollment. Franco would like to develop community-funded scholarships for families who do not qualify for DHS childcare assistance, but have a difficult time paying the full tuition, as well as community funded scholarships for Thelma’s Place respite care, which costs $80 per day. Some tuition assistance comes from Country Side Living and some from a program that allows the teachers at the daycare to set aside a portion of their paycheck for assisting families with a temporary need.

— Reporter: 541-548-2185, lvalenti@redmondspokesman.com

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