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 early education and child care available to low-income families.
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 passed away in December 2005.
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 organization “to provide care for children…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.
1981 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 in Fountain Hill and the Allentown State Hospital.
1988 The Board of Directors established the LVCC Scholarship Fund.
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.
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 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.
2003 Susan M. Williams joined LVCC as executive director.
2003 Pennsylvania introduced its Keystone STARS Quality Initiative, and LVCC centers participated from the start
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 classrooms in Wilson and Palmerton district schools.
2016 Spring Garden Children’s Center, a 60-year-old Easton non-profit, merged with LVCC.
2018 LVCC served 1,300 children at 30 locations: 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, including LVCC’s first classrooms in Carbon County.
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 (OCDEL) 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 celebrated 50 years of continuous service to the community. While the world-wide COVID-19 pandemic closed many businesses, LVCC received a state-waiver to serve the children of essential workers.
2021 Expansion of early education and child care services in Carbon County was prioritized. LVCC opened our first full-service site in Carbon County (Palmerton, Pennsylvania), as well as fostered a new partnership with the Panther Valley School District to bring Pre-K Counts to Nesquehoning. OCDEL also awarded LVCC with additional state funding through the Infant and Toddler Contracted Slots program, serving 68 infants and toddlers in nine Lehigh and Northampton County classrooms.