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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Families
Read through our frequently asked questions (FAQs Families) to learn answers about who we serve, cakes types and size and how to become eligible.
Is my child eligible?
We serve children who have a life-threatening medical condition that is considered progressive, degenerative, or malignant and are within two years of their most recent treatment. We also serve children who require frequent or extended hospitalizations and are within two years of their most recent inpatient stay.
Do you serve siblings of medical children or surviving siblings?
We serve siblings of qualified medical children, including siblings of qualified medical children who have earned their wings within the last two years. As of January 1st 2017, all new sibling applications must be accompanied by a copy of the child’s birth certificate.
Due to limited numbers of bakers in some remote areas Icing Smiles may need to limit cake requests to medical children only.
Do you provide memorial cakes for families who have lost a child?
We provide memorial cakes for families who have experienced the loss of a qualified medical child within the last two years.
What is the difference between a “dream” cake and a “fun” cake?
We offer two types of cakes for our families: Dream Cakes and Fun Cakes. Dream cakes are tiered, 3-dimensional, carved, or have another type of “wow” factor for the child. They require significant labor hours, and each child is currently allowed one through our program. Fun cakes do not have those elements and are typically sheet cakes or single-tier round cakes that are customized for the child.
How many cakes may my child receive?
A medical child may receive one cake per year while eligible: one dream cake and multiple fun cakes. However, due to limited number of volunteer bakers in some areas, Icing Smiles may limit the number of cakes a medical child may receive. If this happens, our families will be notified through email.
Siblings are limited to two cakes through our program: one fun cake and one dream in two different years while the family is eligible. As our organization grows, we reserve the right to make policy changes.
What size cake can we receive?
We ask our bakers to provide a cake with up to 40 servings. If you need additional servings, you will need to supplement with other desserts.
Can we ask for a particular design?
In order to make the experience positive for the family and the baker, the family can choose the theme, but the volunteer baker will determine the exact design. We advise against sending the volunteer pictures of sample cakes, as our bakers have a wide range of experience. Pictures of cakes that may be beyond their experience level will create a significant amount of pressure for the baker and may create unrealistic expectations for the child.
How early should I request the cake?
Please make your requests as early as possible to help us line up your baker with plenty of time for them to plan and design the cake, this is especially helpful during peak seasons. It is not unusual for us to receive requests a year in advance. Unfortunately, we are not able to accept any request for an event within four weeks of the date your eligibility is confirmed, unless your child is terminal or hospitalized. We can accept requests for eligible children who are hospitalized on their birthdays as late as one week prior to the child’s birthday.
Who provides the cake?
We are not a bakery, as a matter of fact, Icing Smiles doesn’t even have an oven! We rely on a generous team of volunteers spread throughout the U.S. to fulfill our mission. Once your eligibility is confirmed we coordinate with a volunteer baker in your area to provide the cake.
Please note that regardless of the amount of lead time provided we depend on volunteers being in your area and available to create a cake. There is always the chance that we may not be able to find someone to complete the request. We try our hardest to fill every request possible but it is not always viable depending on location and number of requests in the area.
Which dates do you serve?
We serve cakes throughout the year with the exception of these specific holiday dates, including the day prior and day following the holiday: Valentine’s Day, Easter, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day & New Year’s Day.
Is there an age limit?
We serve children between the ages of one and 18. The child or sibling must be at least one year old on the celebration date and 18 years of age or younger when the request is made. If the child is 18 at the time of the request; the event date needs to be within a 12 month time frame.
Is there a cost for the cake?
We provide our cakes free of charge, regardless of financial need. If you are in a position to do so, we would gratefully accept tax deductible donations. Your donations will help us to expand our service and reimburse our bakers for their costs.
Does the parent or guardian need to request the cake?
In order to protect both Icing Smiles and the family, we ask that a parent or guardian make the initial request. At any point, a liaison can be appointed by the family to work with us on their behalf.
How do you verify the child’s eligibility? (effective July 1, 2016)
Icing Smiles requires either a Medical Eligibility Form or a Make-A-Wish Acceptance Letter for all applicants. Our Medical Eligibility Form will be given to you after you submit your application, or can be obtained now by clicking on this link: Medical Eligibility Form. This form needs to be completed by both the parent/legal guardian and the medical child’s doctor. We need to receive the form at least 4 weeks from the day of the event. You may also use a Make-A-Wish Acceptance letter which is dated within two years of your event date to qualify your family.
Once eligibility has been verified, it is valid for a period of two years and applies to all children in the family provided they have not received the maximum number of cakes under our program. Once eligibility has been confirmed, we will contact the parent by email using the address provided in the application. Because of the volume of requests we receive, we are unable to follow up with telephone calls and ask that you monitor your email, including your spam folder for a response from us.
How does Icing Smiles communicate with families?
Our communication with families is handled through email for several reasons. Email allows us to have a record of our correspondence with you, which is especially important when we ask for the details of your request so that we may share this information with your child’s baker. We try to avoid phone calls so that we don’t disturb your family during rest time or medical appointments. Many of our administrative volunteers also hold full-time jobs and are not available for phone calls during the day, and phone calls are difficult for our volunteers because of the volume of requests we receive.
We understand that the care and treatment of your child takes priority, and we want to make it as easy as possible for your family to work with us to provide your child with an Icing Smiles cake. If you feel that you will be unable to check and respond to email regularly, we ask that you appoint a liaison to communicate with us on your behalf. The liaison can be anyone you choose who is willing to respond to emails in order to facilitate arrangements for your child’s cake. If we contact you twice by email without a response, we will try to reach you by phone and will then require that you appoint a liaison to communicate with us and the baker on your behalf.
Will you deliver the cake?
We ask our families to pick up the cake unless your medical child, who is receiving the cake, is hospitalized on their birthday. If your child is hospitalized, we will coordinate delivery.
Can you accommodate dietary restrictions?
Icing Smiles attempts to take dietary restrictions into consideration when the child receiving the cake has a dietary need. We cannot however, guarantee that the kitchen was free of trace ingredients during preparation. Should the restriction be critical, please work with your baker to determine if you are comfortable. We are a nonprofit organization that does not receive payment for our service. As the recipient of the donation, you accept liability and assume the risk associated with the consumption of the donated cake.
Will our baker be licensed?
We are in compliance with state laws, but the laws vary by state. Many states allow for home bakers to make donations to nonprofit organizations. If you want a cake from only a licensed baker, please note that in the comments section of your application. Please note that the restriction may limit our ability to serve.
How do you control quality?
Our families are our best resource for quality control. Your honest feedback is essential to ensure we provide the best cakes possible in the future. Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee the quality of either the design or taste of any cake. Our volunteers dedicate an incredible amount of time and energy to your cake, and we hope you will be able to sense the amount of love poured into it. If you requested a “dream” cake, we will ensure that the cake met “dream” cake standards. If it does not, we will offer to provide you a dream cake for a future event.