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50 Years of Caring for Children
 
On July 1, 1970 LVCC opened our doors for the first time. It all started with a vision by our founder, Judith Chase. Many low-income families needed a safe place to take their children while they worked, but had few options in the Lehigh Valley. Chase believed that education was the key to escaping poverty and that all families should have access to affordable, quality child care, regardless of income. And so she founded Lehigh Valley Child Care with $100, a network of child care volunteers, and a strong commitment to improve the lives of children and their families in our community.
 
Throughout these 50 years, we have witnessed monumental changes on the federal, state and local level of what was once considered simply daycare into what has become the true foundation of all learning—early childhood education.
 
Although our humble beginnings in church basements are long gone and our name changed to Lehigh Valley Children’s Centers in 2009, the mission remains the same—to provide high-quality early education and child care to promote healthy child development, meet the needs of families, and encourage children to discover the joy of learning.
 
 
LVCC History
 
When President Lyndon Johnson announced the creation of Head Start in 1965, Easton resident Judith H. Chase recognized the program’s potential to help local children. Judy and several friends had already established a volunteer nursery school in Easton; now she took the lead in bringing Head Start to the Lehigh Valley. Judy administered the Head Start program for five years before establishing a new organization – Lehigh Valley Child Care – to make full-day, year-round child care available to low-income families. 
 
In the early 1970s LVCC established programs and opened centers to meet geographic and community needs, expanding services in rural areas and developing a network of family daycare providers. Working with Lehigh and Northampton County Offices of Children & Youth, LVCC began managing county-operated daycare homes, providing orientation, training and supervision.
 
With Department of Public Welfare funding available for child care services to low-income parents while working or in training programs, LVCC opened child care centers in Allentown and Bethlehem, operating in areas of high poverty. At the time, all children served by LVCC received subsidized care. 
 
1970
Judith Chase founded Lehigh Valley Child Care (LVCC) under the auspices of the Lehigh Valley Community Council, the planning group for the United Way.
 
1971
LVCC established the Allentown Infant Center, Pennsylvania’s first program to offer center-based care for infants and toddlers.
 
1973
LVCC was incorporated as a non-profit 501(c)3 organization “to provide care for children, particularly those whose parents are unable to provide such care themselves, through a program designed to meet the educational, emotional and physical needs of each child.” 
 
1975
LVCC became a sponsor of the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), ensuring that LVCC would be able to provide nutritious meals for all enrolled children.
 
1979
LVCC acquired its first property, the former AT&T East Coast Relay Station on South Albert Street in Allentown. Donated by AT&T Longlines, the building was renovated and reopened as LVCC at South Mountain in 1980. Four smaller programs were consolidated in the new facility. Several years later the Central Food Service was installed there. 
 
1980
Community needs and family structures were rapidly changing as more mothers entered the workforce. LVCC began accepting tuition-paying families at all its centers.
 
1981
LVCC developed an innovative information and referral service for families seeking subsidized care in Lehigh and Northampton Counties. LVCC’s Child Care Information Service (CCIS) became the model for statewide referral systems. In collaboration with the Allentown School District, LVCC opened Pennsylvania’s first child care center in a high school for teen parents and their children, at William Allen High School. A center at Liberty High School in Bethlehem followed in 1983.
 
1983
LVCC opened its first employer-sponsored centers at St. Luke’s Hospital, Fountain Hill, and the Allentown State Hospital. 
 
1988
The Board of Directors established the LVCC Scholarship Fund to provide temporary financial assistance to low-income families in need of child care, especially those on the waiting list for a state subsidy.
 
With 19 locations at the start of the 1990s, LVCC was recognized as one of the largest non-profit early care and education organizations in Pennsylvania, operating full-service centers, teen parent programs, and before-and-after-school programs in elementary schools. 
 
1991
LVCC became a regional sponsor of the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), training and monitoring child care providers outside the Lehigh Valley. By the end of the decade LVCC was supervising family and group child care homes in 12 counties to ensure that children were receiving nutritious meals and snacks.
 
1993
LVCC’s information and referral operation, Child Care Information Services (CCIS) spun off as a separate non-profit organization.
 
1994
LVCC received its first accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
 
1998
LVCC established the Program Enrichment Fund to support educational and cultural field trips.
 
2001
Board member Marlene “Linny” Fowler established the Fowler Education Fund at LVCC to support professional development and innovative, teacher-designed classroom projects.
 
2003
LVCC began an Endowment Campaign, co-chaired by Linny Fowler and Elmer Gates. Over four years the campaign raised $1 million to meet future needs.
 
Judith H. Chase, LVCC’s founder and executive director for 33 years, retired in September 2003. She was widely recognized for her influence on the early education and child care field, both in the Lehigh Valley and statewide. Judy co-founded the Pennsylvania Child Care Association (PACCA). She received the Two Rivers Area Chamber of Commerce “Athena” Award in 1996 and the “Spirit of Women” Award, sponsored by Lehigh Valley Health Network and Prevention magazine, in 1999. In 2000 she was named a Lehigh Valley “Notable Person of the Century” by The Morning Call, and “Public Citizen of the Year” by the Lehigh Valley Division of the National Association of Social Workers. Judy passed away in December 2005.
 
Susan M. Williams joined LVCC as executive director in 2003, during a period of growth and change. At the state and national levels there was renewed attention to the importance of quality in early childhood education. Pennsylvania introduced its Keystone STARS Quality Initiative, and LVCC centers participated from the start.  A research-based curriculum was implemented across all LVCC early childhood programs and assessment tools were put into practice. LVCC phased-in increased educational requirements for lead teachers and center directors.
 
2007
Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts was established by the Office of Child Development and Early Learning to provide state-funded pre-kindergarten for at-risk children, ages 3 – 5. LVCC won a grant to operate five classrooms serving 100 children in the program’s inaugural year and was awarded expansion funding in subsequent years.
 
2008
LVCC was the largest CACFP sponsor in the Pennsylvania, serving more than 650 providers in 22 counties.
 
2009
By unanimous vote of the LVCC Board of Directors, Lehigh Valley Child Care changed its name to “Lehigh Valley Children’s Centers,” retaining the well-known initials “LVCC.” 
 
2014
The United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley began providing program support for LVCC’s “First Steps to Readiness” program, increasing access to quality early education for infants and toddlers.
 
2015
LVCC partnered with the Easton Area School District to operate a Pre-K Counts classroom in a district school. Later LVCC began operating Pre-K Counts classes in Wilson and Palmerton district schools in 2017 and 2018 respectively. 
 
2016
Spring Garden Children’s Center, a 60-year-old Easton non-profit, merged with LVCC. 
 
2017
In 2017-18 the Wilson Area School District received a first-time grant to operate a Pre-K Counts classroom in partnership with LVCC.
 
2018
LVCC served 1,300 children, from 6 weeks through 12 years of age, at 30 locations, including ten full-service centers, school-based before- and after-school programs in six school districts, a teen parent program, a dual-language preschool, and Pre-K Counts classrooms in area schools. LVCC expanded to Carbon County for the first time by operating two Pre-K Counts classroom in partnership with the Palmerton Area School District. In 2018-19 LVCC served 406 children in 23 Pre-K Counts classrooms in Lehigh, Northampton, and Carbon Counties.
 
2019
Charles Dinofrio, former VP of Early Education and Child Care, became LVCC’s President and CEO. The Infant and Toddler Contracted Slots program was established by the Office of Child Development and Early Learning to provide state-funded child care for at-risk children, ages 0-2, and help reduce the long waitlist for Child Care Works state child care subsidies. LVCC won a state grant to operate seven classrooms serving 56 infants and toddlers. In 2019-20 LVCC served 494 children in 28 Pre-K Counts classrooms in Lehigh, Northampton, and Carbon Counties.
 

2020

LVCC celebrates 50 years of continuous service to the community.