Tree House is 2018 Business of the Year

Photo by Crystal Apilado

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The Tree House Children’s Center is more than a typical day care facility. Tree House staff can be found assisting and helping out with child care and providing enrichment opportunities for Winters children and families not only within their facility, but also out within the community. Ten years ago Janet Andersen and Cheryl Moore, Tree House co-owners and administrators, saw a need for childcare in Winters for after school as well as for more preschool options. Moore said the idea was sparked while the two were at a Rotary event and she jokingly said they should purchase the empty church building to open a childcare center. Yet, a few months later the duo found themselves going through the motions of turning it into a reality. “It was a leap of faith. There was such a need in this community,” said Andersen. They worked furiously over the summer and officially opened the Tree House in August 2009 and they haven’t slowed down yet. Tree House offers childcare for before and after school to families with children pre-K aged (starting at age 2) through third grade. They also recently opened The Clubhouse, a full-day, full-time preschool program, in December 2017. Moore said their mission is to work with each individual child to access their needs and meet a goal of where they need to be before going into their next stage of life. Andersen said Tree House has a strong philosophy of meeting the social and emotional needs of the children and providing them with the keys to success. “Our goal is to provide care for children and meeting their individual needs,” said Moore. “We don’t have a one size fits all program.” Moore said their focus on play is different from what other views may be. They work not just to provide a fun and safe experience, but also to make sure the children in their program are benefiting from their time with them. We’re a play-based program with a focus on teaching the social and emotional skills within that play and having staff there to support them so they have a successful experience with that play,” said Andersen. This includes the older school-age children who come to them after their school day is over. Moore said their after school program is quite unique because the program has been designed to allow school age students to get their energy out through art and physical play and then provide time for them to work on their homework and engage in social and cooperative play. “We try to base it on how childhood play used to be,” said Moore. In addition, the after school program engages with the community through fun walking trips to Winters businesses. Moore said one of the fun things they do is create passports for the school age children to get stamped at different downtown locations. “It  helps to create a community connections with the school-age children,” said Andersen. “It was designed on providing enrichment for them not just providing day care.” Andersen said they have a lot of families enroll with them so their children can have the enrichment opportunities as well as receive support as they develop their social and emotional skills all in one place. “Child development has never changed through the years. The development of a child is still the same, society has changed,” said Moore. “We’re going back to those basics of the stage of where that child is at. We meet you there and help you get to the next stage.” Tree House is located across the street from Waggoner Elementary School and they have worked to create a partnership with them. They communicate with Principal Greg Moffitt to help make things work for the students who attend both Waggoner and Tree House. “We work hard to support Waggoner providing childcare when needed for different things,” said Andersen. She said they also work with them on procedural things so they know they can count on Tree House. Tree House was able to create the Boost program through a grant with First 5 Yolo. For the first three years the Boost program allowed Tree House to provide other preschool programs who chose to participate to receive training on how to teach social and emotional skills and provide their staff with a common language on how to meet those skills. This included training with Waggoner staff so the same vocabulary could expand beyond Tree House and become a community commonality. Moore said after the three years passed the participating teachers were trained and no longer needed the training so they have brought the program down a new path to help provide training beyond Yolo County. “Along that journey we’ve started to present at different conferences,” said Moore. So far they have traveled as far as Texas to train other early childhood educators. In 2019 they already have plans to present at the CAEYC annual state conference and at the NAEYC conference. The nomination letter to the Winters Chamber of Commerce for Tree House noted they not only do a lot for families enrolled at Tree House but also for other families in the community which makes them stand out. Moore said they have a lot of compassion and a great adoration for the Winters community. Andersen said she chose Tree House as her career path because she wanted to be a part of the community and work with the children who live here. Sponsoring families at Christmas and offering services like childcare during the City Park build are some of extra things they do to serve Winters. “There’s things that we do that we don’t realize is different,” said Moore. “It’s things we just do at our program….The reason we went into business is to serve Winters families and it comes very naturally for us that we don’t even see it.” Moore said another thing that helps Tree House stand out is their dedication to their families whether past, present or future. “Once you’re part of our family you’re always part of it,” said Moore. “When parents need something that isn’t part of our regular program we try to work with the families.” “We work to meet the individual needs of our staff and our families and support where they’re at,” Andersen added. One of those things includes a revamp of their parent education program. It is currently in the process of evolving for 2019. Moore and Andersen also work with other preschool and childcare programs in Winters to collaborate on projects including, for the past two years, Wheel Day and organizing preschool student artwork on display in downtown businesses in celebration of the Week of the Young Child. They have also formed a connection with other directors in the city through a Director’s Forum they helped facilitate two years ago. While they do not regularly meeting anymore Winters preschool program directors are able to connect and network with everyone about anything related to early childhood education. Tree House is currently looking to hire and train part-time and full-time staff for both programs. “A lot of our staff work at both places,” Andersen said. “All the programs are intertwined with curriculum and staff are shared.” Tree House is a well-known entity in Winters. Not just for their preschool and day care programs, but for their presence in the community and the connections they’ve made with their families. “The greatest thing about Winters is you can say ‘Tree House’ and everyone knows us,” said Moore. Andersen said the relationship created with families and students in their program is special. “We get to be such a great part of the community,” said Andersen. “Childcare isn’t necessarily like that in other communities.” Both Andersen and Moore revel in time spent with their students as well as in having past students stop in to say, “Hi.” Moore said the positive feelings from helping their students and families makes even the hardest days better. Andersen said watching the growth and joy in the children touches her heart. “We are committed to our Tree House families and our community,” said Andersen. The Tree House will be recognized as the 2018 Business of the Year at the annual Toast to Winters event on Saturday, Jan. 19 at 5:30 p.m.  at the Winters Community Center. Tickets are $65 per person and available now at the Winters Chamber of Commerce office at 201 First St. For more information, call the Winters Chamber at 530-795-2329 or email]]>

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