During the days of COVID-19 many of us have seen things change at a rapid pace including what is open and closed. As the rules and guidelines change there are many people that have continued working. With most of her family members being essential workers, Belle Espinoza saw a need for child care. She has been in Riverbank for about a year and has opened up Belle’s Little Angels family child care from her home in Riverbank.
Although her own daycare is new, Espinoza is not new to child care as she has been involved with taking care of children for the last seven years in a few different ways. She has a Bachelor of Liberal Studies and originally wanted to be an elementary school teacher working in the special education field. However for the past several years she has worked as a preschool teacher and most recently inside a home doing child care for the past three years prior to opening her own daycare.
“It (child care) is actually kind of in the family,” expressed Espinoza. “I have been with my husband for 13 years and his mom had a childcare for the last 20 years in Manteca. I have my own daughter, she is going to be two this upcoming February. I wanted to stay home with her and provide a good atmosphere for her to grow up in so I decided that I have worked pretty much my whole career with children either in a childcare facility, a home, or preschool. So I just wanted to do it myself.”
With the idea to offer the community good, safe child care that is fair priced that families can afford and where she can be with her own child, Espinoza decided to get licensed and she opened her daycare in April this year.
Currently Belle’s Little Angels has a total of seven kids and they are open five days a week from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. She offers part time and full time services and also works with county programs for the families that need financial support.
“A lot of families don’t know this but with COVID there is assistance programs for essential workers and some families have been able to utilize that,” added Espinoza. “Even though they make good money because they have been working through the pandemic they have been able to get free child care through the state. The county actually reimburses me. So that is something that I try to put that out there because a lot of families don’t know that they can get assistance through the county.”
Prior to her family moving to Riverbank she did not know much about the community, but did spend some time at Jacob Myers Park when she was a kid. Since living in the City of Action she has really connected with several families and has really enjoyed the community. Her favorite part of owning a daycare is the connections she has made with the families, the kids, and teaching them.
“I really like educating kids,” noted Espinoza. “I love the fact that they come here in this safe environment and that this is also somewhere they can grow. Some of the kids have special needs and special certifications that I can help them excel so they can go onto kindergarten and are prepared and I think that is something important for me. I really love hands on activities and being able to see that light when they find something new or like something.”
Espinoza has a new assistant which has been a huge help with the daycare and allowed her to focus on curriculum and hands on activities. They take all precautions necessary due to COVID-19 wiping everything down, washing hands constantly, disinfecting, taking temperatures, sanitizing, mopping and limiting what the kids can bring in.
“I will do this to the best of my ability and hope that I can do enough to stay open,” remarked Espinoza. “It was a hard adjustment for the kids more than me. This is their new normal. We have learned how to maintain it. It is a lot of work.”
Not sure what the future will hold for all of us with COVID life but the one thing Espinoza knows for sure is that she has a passion for working with children. She plans to continue with the daycare for now and has hopes to expand in the future.
For more information, call 209-471-4778 or visit belleslittleangels on Instagram.