INSIDE LOOK: Loads of Smiles
917 Beville Rd., South Daytona FL • 5 Utility Drive, Palm Coast FL
By Tiffany Yancey // Photos by Kelsey Walters
Q: What exactly is Loads of Smiles?
A: Loads of Smiles is a day care for medically complex children. We are licensed as a Prescribed Pediatric Extended Care (PPEC) center. We are licensed for 40 children, age range from birth to 21 years old. Loads of Smiles is run by nurses – RNs, LPNs and CNAs. While children are attending Loads of Smiles, if qualified, they may receive physical, occupational and speech therapy as well as hospital homebound schooling.
Q: What inspired you to open this amazing facility and when did you first open your doors?
A: My son, Zachary, inspired me to open Loads of Smiles. Zachary was born in 1998 with cystic fibrosis. When Zach was 8 years old, he received an amazing gift of a double lung transplant; two years later Zachary passed away with rejection of the lungs. He is my inspiration and hero. Because of Zach, I wanted to do something for his legacy and I wanted to help other families and children with medical needs. Loads of Smiles is an amazing center and you go home each night feeling you have made a difference in the lives of others.
Q: What exactly do you mean when you say “medically complex children?”
A: Medically complex children would be a child with a medical condition that would require a nursing need. We have a wide range of different medical conditions that children have. Some of the conditions range from severe asthma, seizure disorder, cerebral palsy and a wide range of genetic disorders.
Q: Where are you located?
A: We have two locations – one in South Daytona and the second location is in Palm Coast. We do not plan on moving or adding any additional centers. The reason we opened Loads of Smiles is to help families in need. This is a family business. I am a working owner and my sister, Sandy, is the working administrator. We are very involved and know all our families, children and staff. We don’t want to grow too large where we lose touch with that. I believe that’s what makes us better than any other center around. If you grow too large you lose touch.
Q: What sets you apart from other companies providing care for children in need?
A: When you walk into Loads of Smiles you get a comfy feeling; all the staff are happy and running around. Each day the child, regardless of age, completes a craft to take home. We also provide water days, spa days, storytellers, petting zoos, cooking days and a whole range of other amazing activities to our children. We do have a Facebook page if you would like to see all the amazing things we do. At Loads of Smiles we also offer physical, occupational and speech therapy as well as hospital homebound schooling if the child qualifies. Medicaid pays 100 percent of the stay at Loads of Smiles as well as transportation to and from the center.
Q: What are some of the specific services you offer?
A: Some of the other services that we offer would be medical care that’s provided by Registered Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses and Certified Nursing Assistants through the state of Florida. We provide developmental stimulation, fine and gross motor skills. We also work with families and physicians to provide appropriate individualized plans of care for our team of professionals to follow as well as medication management and medication administration as ordered by the physician. We also offer school, holiday and summer break services.
Q: How long are students usually in your care for?
A: Students can be in our care from the ages of birth to 21. When children are admitted to Loads of Smiles, we have to complete a Plan of Care with a team of professionals which includes the child’s physician. Every six months that plan of care is reviewed and the child is re-assessed. In order to continue services at Loads of Smiles the child needs to continue to receive nursing care. It varies on how long the child is in attendance here at Loads of Smiles, it all depends on their nursing needs. Some children have been with us for years and will be with us until they are 21 and others may only need us for a six-month period.
Q: Some of your rooms have themes. Can you tell us about the Tide Room (pictured above) and why it is so special to you?
A: Since the center was inspired by Zachary Belz, even the name, Loads of Smiles, has a special significance. When Zachary was a small child, he was often soothed by the vibrations of the family washing machine. He came to associate that comfort with the bottle of Tide laundry detergent that was always present, even carrying an empty bottle around with him. We contacted Proctor and Gamble about the connection and the company responded and kept in touch with the family, even creating a special Tide bottle for Zachary with his picture on the label. Our Tide Room here at Loads of Smiles is our playroom where we hold lots of special events and activities. The room even has an indoor playground for the children.
Q: Transportation is something parents with medically complex children can have difficulty with. Do you provide this service to your students?
A: Loads of Smiles does provide transportation to our children. We currently have six buses that pick up children throughout Volusia and Flagler County. We work very closely with Med One Shuttle. There is always an escort from Loads of Smiles on the buses.
Q: Each year you choose a different animal the children get to help raise. What did you choose this year and why is this so import to the therapy process?
A: It is well known and scientifically proven that interactions with pets has significant benefits. This year we chose ducks to raise. We started with duck eggs from a nest located right on our property. The children were able to observe the whole process. It was absolutely amazing watching the children interact with the ducks.
Q: Are you accepting any applications for new students? If yes, what is the best way to get more information and sign up?
A: We are always accepting applications for new students. The best way to contact us is directly by phone or e-mail us at LoadsOfSmiles@att.net. We also have a Facebook page as well as a website. We are open from 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. for tours of our center.
Q: Do you ever accept volunteers? If yes, how can someone get more information?
A: Yes, we do accept volunteers. Each volunteer does need to have a background check. For more information call (386) 788-0012.
Loads of Smiles
917 Beville Rd., South Daytona FL
5 Utility Drive, Palm Coast FL
Mon. – Fri.: 7 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Tiffany Yancey is the editor and one of the owners of East Coast Current magazine. She graduated from Kennesaw State University in 2005 with a degree in Communication in the Mass Media. In 2014 she was recognized by Editor & Publisher Magazine as one of the “25 Under 35” innovators in the newspaper industry. @eccprint