The Beginning

When Anthony, Anna and Clarine Insinna founded what would become Doodle Bugs! Children’s Learning Academy back in 1992, they never expected the organization to grow into a leading childcare provider in three states. Entrepreneurship and education just happened to run in the family.

“My whole family, we're all kind of entrepreneurially minded,” said Anthony. “My father had a barbershop in Depew for nearly 50 years. My mother was a Buffalo school teacher and taught Italian language classes in the evenings and summer. Together they owned a few rental properties.”

Anthony caught the entrepreneurship bug early. At the age of 10 he was delivering newspapers and by 12 he started mowing lawns in his neighborhood. As he added customers, his mother would drive him around until he enlisted the help of his cousins who could drive. Together they created a small landscaping company that eventually employed 10+ people. In high school he went on his own and after entering college he partnered with his childhood friend and next door neighbor. Together they created one of the largest landscape companies in the Buffalo area before Anthony would sell off his shares in 1994.

Anna and Clarine, meanwhile, followed in their mother’s footsteps to become teachers.

“My mom was a teacher and her love for it brushed off on me,” said Anna. “I always thought I would do this.”

“When you have a parent as a teacher it just seems to come natural,” agreed Clarine.

After high school, both sisters entered college to study education.

Education + Entrepreneurship

The two worlds collided in 1991, when the Insinna parents bought a small house in the suburbs of Buffalo to store Anthony’s landscaping equipment. Anna had recently graduated college and was struggling to find work in the area.

“There were no teaching jobs, everyone was moving,” said Anna. “My parents had purchased this land with this little house on it for [Anthony] to store his trucks. I went in one day and I thought ‘Wouldn’t this be cute as a day care?’”

Anna and Clarine founded Building Blocks Daycare in 1992. Anthony helped his sisters remodel and get their business off the ground.

“We wanted to create a safe ‘home away from home’ for the community we were a part of,” said Clarine. “I wanted to take care of children as if they were my own.”

Building Blocks was far from an overnight success, though.

“We made this place look great. And then we opened the doors and nobody came.”

- Anthony Insinna

First Enrollment

“We made this place look great,” said Anthony. “And then we opened the doors and nobody came.”

Anna admits the first few months were a bit "depressing," but the siblings didn't give up.

Every morning, Anna and Clarine arrived early just to turn the lights on. People stopped for information, but it took three months before Building Blocks enrolled their first child.

“Joey,” Anthony remembers with a smile. “He was the sweetest kid ever.”

Joey’s mother had heard about the sisters' backgrounds in education. She valued their qualifications, and not just because she wanted Joey to have a head start in school. Joey had special needs. In the early 1990s, very few daycare providers had ample training to accommodate him.

Joey enrolled at Building Blocks, receiving the epitome of individualized education: two teachers all to himself. It wasn't long before he gained some classmates. Within six months, Building Blocks hit capacity.

It was time to expand.

From “Building Blocks” to “Doodle Bugs!”

In 1995, the Insinnas decided to grow their company by expanding the original Building Blocks facility and renting a second location in Tonawanda, NY.

Around this time, a friend tipped them off about a local children’s art studio that was going out of business. He thought the siblings might want to buy some gently-used child-sized furniture.

That studio? Doodle Bugs! Art Academy.

The Insinnas loved Doodle Bugs! Art Academy at first sight. They liked the colors, the setup, the organization and the approach.

“We said ‘Wow, this is a great business! It shouldn't close,’” said Anthony.

The Insinnas ended up buying the entire Doodle Bugs! business. They operated the art academy for a few years before deciding to focus exclusively on childcare.

“But we really liked the name Doodle Bugs!” said Anthony. “Kids could say it. There was a mascot. We were opening two more centers, so the timing seemed perfect.”

In 1998, the Insinnas rebranded: Building Blocks Daycare became Doodle Bugs! Children’s Learning Academy.

With six years of experience under their belts and a new name, the Insinnas prepared to make their mark on the child care industry.

Designed to Do What’s Right

“I think we’re all in the mindset of doing what’s right,” said Anthony. “That’s the way we’ve operated our business since day one. Even if we take losses, we’ve always been dedicated to doing the right thing.”

In 1999, most child care facilities in the area were located in converted buildings or people’s houses. In Anthony’s words, “nothing was designed for the job” of child care. It didn't seem right to the Insinnas.

“So we decided to do a ground-up facility built exactly the way we wanted,” said Anthony.

The siblings studied leading centers across the country, identifying trends that would come to define modern child care providers. They combined these trends with their own educational philosophy, designing a center like nothing else in Western New York.

“Between starting our research and opening, it was an over 2-year process," said Anthony. "But it was an instant success.”

The center opened in East Amherst, NY in 2001. With an indoor playroom, computer lab and extracurricular offerings like Spanish, dance and tae kwon do, it dramatically raised the standards for child care providers in Western New York.

That spirit of innovation has made Doodle Bugs! an industry leader in everything from curriculum to accreditation to center security.

That’s not motivated by money. It's motivated by doing what we think is right

- Anthony Insinna

Growing into the Future

Since designing their first center and expanding their curriculum, Doodle Bugs! has seen plenty of firsts. In 2007, Doodle Bugs! expanded into the Rochester, NY area; in 2013, they made the move into Pennsylvania; and in 2014, Doodle Bugs! opened their first Florida center in Palm Beach County.

Growth has led to recognition and reward. Doodle Bugs! currently enrolls over 3,600 children and has been chosen as the official childcare provider of the Buffalo Bills, Buffalo Sabres and Pittsburgh Steelers.

In 2016, Doodle Bugs! refreshed their brand to match their growth, creating a new logo, website and, of course, a new Doodle Bug (along with his friends, the Doodle Buds).

The Insinnas are as excited about Doodle Bugs! now as they were when it first started.

“We still light up as if it were 1992,” said Clarine. She credits the staff and teachers for Doodle Bugs’ longevity.

“If it weren’t for the faces of Doodle Bugs!, we wouldn’t be celebrating 25 years.”

“When a parent brings their child to us, it's like their home away from home. We're a family here.”

Anna Insinna

While the Insinnas are happy about their 25th anniversary as a business, they're especially proud to be a positive influence in the lives of so many families.

“When a parent brings their child to us, it's like their home away from home,” said Anna. “We're a family here.”

“It’s a feel-good business,” Anthony agreed. “The kids make you happy.”

Together, the siblings look forward to offering the Doodle Bugs! experience to many more families in the future. Centers in Pittsburgh and Sarasota are slated to open soon with more on the horizon.

“I don't know what the end of the story is going to look like, but I think we have something unique here,” said Anthony. “We plan to provide the best childcare experience possible to kids in every community that we can.

“That’s not motivated by money. It's motivated by doing what we think is right.”

Congrats, wishing you many more happy years to come!

Nicole white

Happy Anniversary! Wishing you another 25 + years of working with happy children, happy parents, and happy teachers.

Linda Latorre, Rochester, N.Y.

congrats doodle bugs

Joanne Huk

congrats doodle bugs


Such an inspiring story. The founders have such passion and heart for what they do and I admire that. I want every child that I come in contact with to feel safe and want to be where they are. I also want them to learn to love, well, learning. This is an awesome way to get ahead in school and also to keep going in the summer when school is out of session. Its always good to have fun, especially with some fun loving teachers!

Jordin Brooks

Wow! So inspiring, Happy Anniversary!

Jacqueline F.


Amanda Dehlinger

    Thanks for being a wonderful part of our team, Amanda!

    Doodle Bugs!

Happy Anniversary Doodle Bugs! We are constantly amazed by the level of care and support that we receive from our children's teachers and all the staff at the McCandless Center. In a big center it is hard to feel a personal connection. However the staff always makes us feel like we are the most important at that given time. We couldn't be happier.

The Edwards Family

    Thank you, Edwards Family! Your kind words mean the world to us!

    Doodle Bugs!


Sandy Porzio

    Thank you, Sandy!

    Doodle Bugs!

I loved being a teacher in both infant and toddler rooms for over 11years! Thank you to Anna,Clarine and Anthony for giving me the opportunities that you gave me! I have very fond memories of children, parents and the amazing staff!!! Happy Anniversary!❤

Beth Golembiewski

    Thank YOU! :)

    Doodle Bugs!

I absolutely loved being an infant and toddler teacher for over 11 years! It was a pleasure working for you! I have very fond memories of all the children, parents and staff!❤

Beth Golembiewski

Happy Anniversary DoodleBugs! You were a big part of my son's early years!

Gaye P Mayo

    We are so grateful - thank you for letting us be an extension of your family!

    Doodle Bugs!

Thank you for sharing your story! When we moved to Rochester, we had no idea where to take our baby for child-care. The moment we stepping into Doodlebugs in Victor, we immediately felt that this was the PERFECT place for our child and it was! Looking back this was the best decision we ever made!

Cori and Mike

    Thank YOU so much - so happy you're a part of the Doodle family!

    Doodle Bugs!

Happy Anniversary Doodle Bugs!

Mike LaDuce