Dear families in our community,
CSC is committed to providing all of our families, and the rest of the community, with resources, support services and updates through this unprecedented time. Below you will find useful resources on how to help your children keep learning at home, how to stay healthy and how to navigate the ever-changing flow of information.
Robert Takacs March 18th, 2020
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Given for the first time in 1996, Community Services for Children established this prestigious award to acknowledge public service at the local, state, and/or national levels which has significantly improved the quality of life for children. Mr. and Mrs. Donley, who exemplify the spirit of the award, were the first recipients. We continue to honor their example by naming the award for them.
The judges who made the selections were Lin Erickson, Executive Director of The DaVinci Science Center and past recipient of the Donley Award; Marci Ronald, Executive Vice President of the United way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, also a past Donley awardee; and Thomas Donley, son of the original awardees and namesakes, Inez and Edward Donley.
Dr. J. Robert Lovett Dr. Lovett was recruited to work at Air Products by Edward Donley, his mentor and friend and for whom he has modelled his life for service beyond self. He and his wife Sandy have devoted their lives especially to at-risk youth in Allentown. He has served in leadership roles in a number of organizations whose missions are dedicated to improving the quality of life for children, including founding chair of The DaVinci Science Center; chair of the Baum School for Art; board member of Communities in Schools, Community Bike Works, the Lehigh Valley Early Learning Coalition, Community Action Development Corporation of Allentown, and Building 21. Dr. Lovett is a “matchmaker,” able to bring people and resources together to maximize both.
Court-Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA) The mission of the Lehigh County CASA program is to provide consistent, credible, and trained volunteers who investigate, facilitate, monitor, and advocate for Lehigh County’s abused and neglected children in juvenile dependency court. CASA volunteers serves as the eyes and ears of the Court. Input from these dedicated CASA volunteers assists the Court in making sound decisions that will provide safe, secure and permanent homes for at-risk children who have become wards of the state. Findings show that children who have been assigned CASA volunteers tend to spend less time in court and in the foster care system than those who do not have CASA representation. Judges have observed that CASA children also have greater chances of finding permanent homes than non-CASA children. A special emphasis is placed in children aged 12 and under.
In addition to the Donleys, past individual recipients include Ms. Marci Ronald, Mrs. Beverly Bradley, Senator Pat Browne, Dr. John vanBrakle, Chief Roger McLean, Mrs. Rebecca Gorton, Mrs. Ardath Rodale, Mr. and Mrs. Lee Butz, Mr. Kostas Kalogeropolous, Mrs. Patricia W. Levin, The Honorable Edward G. Rendell, Dr. Arthur L. Scott, Mr. Scott Fainor, Dr. Diane Scott, The Honorable Jeanette Reibman, Mr. L. Jack Bradt, Mr. Peter Carpino, Mrs. Marlene “Linny” Fowler, and Dr. and Mrs. Peter Likins.
Past recipients of the Organization Award are The DaVinci Science Center, Pediatric Cancer Foundation of the Lehigh Valley, Northampton County Medical Society Alliance, Computer Aid, PPL Corporation, Education 2020!, St. Luke’s Hospital & Health Network, The Women’s Leadership Initiative of the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley; PNC Financial Services; Just Born, Inc; The Harry C. Trexler Trust; Bethlehem Steel Corporation; Agere Systems; Air Products & Chemicals, Inc; Lehigh Valley Health Network; CoreStates Bank; and Binney & Smith, Inc (now “Crayola”).
For additional information, call Community Services for Children at 610-437-6000, x2101, or log onto www.cscinc.org/events.
Community Services for Children is a regional leader in early childhood education, affecting the lives of 40,000 children annually. Its Head Start program is recognized as a national center of excellence.
Nadine Slifka February 6th, 2017
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Community Services for Children (CSC) recently promoted Deidra Vachier to the position of Vice President of Early Childhood Development. She is responsible for the daily operations of CSC’s Pre-School Division, including Head Start, Early Head Start, Pre-K Counts and several other early education programs. Most recently, she was the Director of Early Education, responsible for Head Start and Pre-K Counts, serving low income children ages 3-5.
Vachier began her career at CSC 18 years ago as a teacher in a Head Start classroom and has been promoted numerous times with increasing responsibility and oversight.
Vachier holds a Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education from East Stroudsburg University. She also holds a Pennsylvania Director’s Credential, a Pre-K-4 PA Teaching Certification and she has been a Pennsylvania Quality Assurance System Trainer for many years.
CSC’s Early Childhood Education division has a budget over $16 million, employs 200 staff, and includes 56 classrooms in Northampton and Lehigh Counties. Programs comply with the stringent Head Start performance Standards, PA Dept of Human Services, National Association for the Education of Young Children, and Middle States Commission for Schools. The division engages in research with numerous colleges and universities.
Community Services for Children is a regional leader in early childhood education, affecting the lives of 35,000 children annually. Its Head Start program is recognized as a national center of excellence.
Nadine Slifka November 3rd, 2016
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Administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, Keystone STARS rates participating child care and Head Start programs from STAR 1 to STAR 4 for meeting quality standards for teacher qualifications, learning environment, family involvement, and program management. STAR ratings offers families a way to evaluate the quality of child care programs, so that they can make an informed decision that best suits their needs, as well as the needs of their children. Programs may receive additional supports to help them move up the STARS quality ladder.
“We are thrilled that our work supporting quality early childhood services has helped child care programs to achieve a higher STAR 3 or 4 quality rating! These programs understand the importance of providing quality to their families, and we applaud them for their efforts to provide all children with a safe and happy learning experience that prepares them for success in school and life,” said Raine Neal, Northeast Regional Key Director.
At least half of lead teachers in STAR 4 centers and group child care homes must have a Bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. The following programs have been awarded with the highest STAR 4 quality rating between July and October 2016:
All lead teachers in a STAR 3 centers and group child care homes must have an Associate’s degree in early childhood education. The following programs have been awarded with a STAR 3 quality rating between July and October 2016:
At both Keystone STAR 3 and 4 programs, the teachers are required to assess children’s skills three times a year, and hold at least two family conferences each year to discuss the child’s progress and behavioral, social and physical needs.
Families may search for Keystone STARS programs in their area using the state’s COMPASS website. A tutorial on how to use the site is available at www.papromiseforchildren.com/COMPASS or visit CSC/Northeast Key website for a list of the STAR 3 and STAR 4 programs in the region.
A statewide initiative of the Office of Child Development and Early Learning, in coordination with the Northeast Regional Key, programs participating in Keystone STARS receive training to advance staff education, technical assistance to help them meet STAR level requirements, and additional resources through support grants and merit awards to support continued quality improvements. As STAR levels increase from a STAR 1 through a STAR 4, so do the requirements for meeting higher standards of quality.
Community Services for Children is the parent organization for the PA Northeast Regional Key. The Regional Key coordinates and administers the Keystone STARS program, which is intended to improve the quality of early learning and school-age care and education. The Northeast Regional Key also provides many programs and supports for early learning and school-age programs including; professional development, technical assistance, financial supports and Keystone STARS. The Northeast Regional Key offers supports to 1,147 child care programs in 16 counties in the Northeast Region including: Berks, Bradford, Carbon, Columbia, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Montour, Northampton, Pike, Schuylkill, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Wayne and Wyoming. Please contact 800-528-7222 for information about Keystone STARS or any of our support services.
Nadine Slifka October 25th, 2016
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Patricia W. Levin, former Executive Director of Head Start of the Lehigh Valley and founder of Community Services for Children (CSC), recently received the Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania award. The award is presented annually by the Governor and First Lady to a limited number of outstanding women in honor of their outstanding service in their professional careers and/or volunteerism. CSC will honor Mrs. Levin at their Annual Meeting, November 16, 2016, noon. For information contact CSC, 610-437-6000, x 3402.
Mrs. Levin took a financially struggling Head Start organization barely $200,000 in revenues in 1972 and built a $38 million highly regarded organization when she retired in 2006. (CSC’s revenues are now $45 million.) At her retirement that organization had grown to administer not only Head Start of the Lehigh Valley, but also the Northeast Regional Key/Keystone STARS program, Lehigh County Child Care Information Services, and the Training Institute, providing and promoting quality early care and education.
Her passion to improve the lives of children has cast a great safety net around thousands in the Lehigh Valley and beyond. She was an advocate for quality early education long before it was in vogue. Pat contributed to making the Lehigh Valley a great place to live because she has made sure people care about each other, including our youngest and most vulnerable.
Mrs. Levin, who holds a master’s in educational administration from Lehigh University, became involved with Head Start in 1972. She has held numerous national, state, and regional leadership roles in the early education field, including member of the board of the National Head Start Association, president and board member of the Pennsylvania Head Start Association, and chairman of the northeast region of the Governor’s Commission on Children. She served as a member of the Governor’s Head Start Collaboration Project and was a founding member of the Children’s Coalition of the Lehigh Valley. She formerly sat on the Board of Directors of Northampton Community College’s Early Childhood Advisory Board and the Bethlehem Area Chamber of Commerce Child Care Committee. She has testified before Congress on matters related to the effectiveness of Head Start and was invited by President Clinton to attend the signing of the authorization to expand Head Start services.
With her leadership, CSC has grown to provide Head Start and Early Head Start and PreK Counts to over 1240 children, 5000 children in the subsidy child care program called Child Care Information Services, and 35,000 children in the Northeast Regional Key quality initiative that administers the Keystone STARS program in 16 counties.
Mrs. Levin introduced the first local computerized child care service and pioneered the concept of parent choice, which was later adopted throughout the state (now called Child Care Information Services). Through the Keystone Stars program funded by the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning, CSC works with 800 child care providers to assist in improving the quality of care and education.
Mrs. Levin built solid working partnerships with business and education leaders, including Mr. Edward Donley, former CEO and chairman of the board of Air Products, Northampton Community College, PNC Bank, Crayola, PPL, The Lehigh County Children & Youth Department, WLVT-TV, The Harry Trexler Trust, The Dorothy Rider Pool Healthcare Trust, and many others enabling CSC to develop innovative programs and services not possible otherwise. Under Mrs. Levin’s leadership, CSC initiated the nation’s only center-based Early Head Start/Child Welfare collaboration providing a model for infant mental health therapy for abused infants and toddlers.
Mrs. Levin worked tirelessly to collaborate with school districts to provide Head Start classrooms and family services to children most at risk for failure. Among these collaborations are the Northern Lehigh School District, Northampton Area School District, Easton Area School District, East Penn School District, Parkland School District, and Bethlehem Area School District.
The results have been amazing. Children who enter the program a year or more behind their peers developmentally and at the end of the program they have closed the gap. As pre-kindergarten becomes more widely available, CSC will continue to have much to offer children, parents, teachers, and schools in working with young children. Ms. Levin emphasized outcomes to demonstrate the effectiveness of Head Start and Early Head Start; 95% of children completing a year of Head Start are fully ready for kindergarten.
Mrs. Levin has received numerous accolades for her pioneering work, including the Lehigh County Chamber of Commerce Athena Award and The Helen Taylor Distinguished Leadership Award presented by the Region III Head Start Association for exemplifying outstanding leadership and service on behalf of children and families. With her leadership, CSC received the first Quality Valley USA Award given to a not-for-profit organization, the Golden Apple Award from Good Schools Pennsylvania, and the Community Fabric Award from Northampton Community College. CSC’s Head Start program has been recognized as among the top 10 in the nation, thanks to the foundation for excellence laid by Mrs. Levin.
Fulfilling a long-time dream, Mrs. Levin led the development of the Donley Children’s Campus, which is located on the former campus of the Allentown State Hospital. This child-friendly complex includes the Lehigh Valley’s only STEM-focused preschool (The Newton School), Pennsylvania’s only therapeutic nursery program for abused and neglected babies and toddlers (SafeStart), a unique all-natural outdoor discovery park, model Head Start classrooms with observation areas for parental and professional development, a fully-equipped training center for parents and preschool teachers who gather from an 18-county area, and family gathering rooms for education and socialization.
CSC is a leading provider of early education services, affecting the lives of 35,000+ children annually. For information: www.cscinc.org
Nadine Slifka October 12th, 2016
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On September 21, 2016, the Board of Directors of Community Services for Children (CSC) elected Paula J. Margraf as their fourth CEO/President since its founding in 1981.
Previous to her election as CEO, Mrs. Margraf served as Executive Vice President of CSC and Director of Head Start/Early Head Start for the organization. She oversaw all early education and family programs including Head Start, Early Head Start and Pre-K Counts.
Mrs. Margraf currently serves as President of the Pennsylvania Head Start Association and serves as a representative for Pennsylvania at the Region III Head Start Association Board. In 2008, she was chosen among nation-wide candidates to attend the Head Start Fellows training at UCLA /Anderson School of Management, sponsored by Johnson & Johnson. This places Mrs. Margraf into an elite status among Head Start executives. In 2015, she was chosen as a Lehigh Valley Woman of Influence.
She earned her BSN from Georgetown University. Mrs. Margraf was first introduced to Head Start as a nursing student. She has worked on behalf of low income women, children and their families for over 35 years.
Mrs. Margraf began her employment with CSC in 1998. She established a highly successful Early Head Start program for children living in low income families, ages prenatal to age 3 and led the program through multiple expansions. She created the unique Early Head Start program that CSC calls SafeStart, providing intensive daily therapeutic nursery for infants and toddlers who have been abused and neglected. This is a national model for infant mental and physical health, the only program of its kind in Pennsylvania with a close working partnership with the Children & Youth departments of both Lehigh and Northampton County.
She has a history of addressing complex problems through the development of creative programs that offer solutions including fatherhood involvement in parenting, co-parenting, child abuse prevention, crossing the digital divide among low income families with the creation of a preschool Technology Lab and STEM focused preschool program, and enhancing early language and literacy development through home visitation. Paula is committed to community collaboration and under her leadership, Early Head Start, Head Start and Pre K Counts programs have expanded to 10 local school districts, and partnered with numerous Universities to conduct early childhood research. Under her direction, 95% or more of Head Start children are fully ready for kindergarten.
Head Start/Early Head Start of the Lehigh Valley earned its top 10 quality rating from the National Head Start Association in 2015 for its outstanding outcomes and innovative practices. It is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, and Middle States, the gold standard among preschools.
CSC is the region’s largest provider of early education services and programs, affecting the lives of 35,000 children in 16 counties of northeast Pennsylvania. In addition to Head Start and Early Head Start, CSC provides the quality improvement initiative Keystone STARS, subsidies for access to childcare called Child Care Information Services of Lehigh County, and Pre-K Counts.
Nadine Slifka October 10th, 2016
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Pediatrician Elaine Donoghue Joins Children’s Board
The Board of Directors of Community Services for Children recently elected Elaine Donoghue, MD, to the Board. Dr Donoghue is the Vice Chair for Medical Education in the Department of Pediatrics at the Lehigh Valley Health Network. She helped to establish the LVHN Pediatric residency program in 2012.
She is an academic general pediatrician who did her undergraduate work at Georgetown University and subsequently graduated from Tulane University School of Medicine in 1985 and completed her residency at Emory in 1988. After serving four years in the Army at Fort Benning, she moved to University of Connecticut where she began to pursue her interests in teaching pediatrics to pediatric residents. In 1992, she moved to New Jersey to take a teaching position at St. Peter’s University Hospital, an affiliate of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. She moved to Jersey Shore University Hospital in 2004 to become the Director of the Division of General Pediatrics.
Dr. Donoghue holds the Grube Endowed Chair for Medical Education at LVHN. She has been active in the development of the USF SELECT medical student program which is a joint effort between the University of South Florida and Lehigh Valley Health Network.
Dr. Donoghue has a strong interest in early childhood and has served on several American Academy of Pediatrics committees in a leadership position and co-authored a book, Managing Chronic Health Needs in Child Care and School with Dr. Colleen Kraft in 2009. She received the AAP Susan S. Aronson Award for her work in early education and child care in 2010.
Community Services for Children is a regional leader in early childhood education, providing direct services to children, families and childcare providers in 16 counties of Northeast Pennsylvania affecting 35,000 children annually. Programs include Early Head Start, Head Start, Pre-K Counts, Northeast Regional Key Keystone STARS, and Child Care Information Services of Lehigh County.
Nadine Slifka September 6th, 2016
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PPL Electric Utilities recently awarded $65,000 to Community Services for Children (CSC) to supports pre-k scholarship program for children at high risk. The funds will be used for children enrolled in CSC’s unique Newton School, the state’s only preschool using Science, Technology, Engineering and Math as a focus for hands-on learning. Adding to a previous grant of $40,000, PPL also donated an additional $10,000 to CSC for its highly successful Literacy Technology Labs. The award supports 240 low-income children attending Head Start and Pre-K Counts at two of CSC’s preschool locations in Allentown.
Both awards were possible through the EITC program, the Commonwealth program that allows companies to donate part of their state tax obligation to approved educational programs.
“Literacy and STEM skills are essential to success,” said Michael A. Walker, Esq, CEO and President of CSC. “Our Technology Lab combines traditional with 21st century approaches to give children a boost in their skills. The Newton School shows that children learn best through hands-on experimentation and discovery.”
Analysis of CSC’s outcomes demonstrates that the children accessing the Technology Lab outperform their peers not only in acquiring literacy skills but in all areas of development. Last year’s Newton School students overall tested not only ready for kindergarten, but ready for first grade as well.
“Empowering students creates healthy and vibrant communities. That’s why PPL is dedicated to working with educators and other business and community leaders to prepare students for the future,” said Carol Obando-Derstine, Regional Affairs Director-Southeast Region, PPL Electric Utilities. “We’re proud to support CSC’s Technology Lab, which has a proven success record of expanding access to high-quality pre-school education.”
“We also support CSC’s pre-k scholarship program because their results are outstanding. Their preschoolers overcome extreme poverty ready for success in kindergarten. Their program uniquely works with the children’s parents, too. That’s a key to success,” said Obando-Derstine.
CSC has depended on EITC contributions for the Tech Lab since opening 8 years ago. With the delay in the Pennsylvania budget being passed, EITC contributions have been sorely missed.
“The PPL contribution couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Walker. “We faced having to close the Technology Lab if PPL hadn’t found a way to support it without EITC dollars. We are very grateful.”
Nadine Slifka February 29th, 2016
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Community Services for Children (CSC) recently received $20,000 from Talen Energy in Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) funding in support of its innovative Literacy Lab program.
“We are so appreciative of Talen’s community support. This is the building block for successful high school graduation and an educated workforce,” said Michael Walker, chief executive officer and president of CSC.
The innovative Literacy Lab program for preschoolers enrolled in CSC’s Head Start program has proven to accelerate young children’s grasp of early literacy skills, which can help future success with language, reading and writing. Children enrolled in Head Start live in households with incomes at or below the poverty line.
Eight years’ experience with the Tech Literacy Lab shows that children not only develop precocious literacy skills, but excel in all areas of development.
CSC is approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development as an Educational Innovation Organization and a Pre-Kindergarten Scholarship Organization. Qualifying businesses may receive tax credits in exchange for donations to CSC to fund students from low income families attending high quality pre-K programs. These credits are obtained through the program Educational Investment Tax Credits (EITC) and administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.
CSC is the region’s leader in early childhood education and family development, reaching 40,000 children in 18 counties annually. For further information, call Sara George, 610-437-6000, x2101.
Nadine Slifka February 29th, 2016
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Jennifer Daniels’ gift to community is her lively, interactive show style designed to get children and families excited about reading, the arts, and creative self expression. She comes to Allentown April 5, 2016, 6:30 – 7:30 pm for a free concert for pre-school age children, families, and early education teachers and directors. Concert participants are asked to bring a canned item for the local food bank. Come expecting fun and dressed to move.
The Northeast Regional Key of Community Services for Children is hosting the event at its Donley Children’s Campus location, 1520 Hanover Ave, Allentown. With limited space, the public should call to reserve: 610-437-6000, x 7970.
Daniels is a performing songwriter out of Lookout Mountain, Georgia. She works closely with Eric Litwin (bestselling author of the first four Pete the Cat picture books) and with The Learning Groove music and movement curriculum, where she teaches parent/child classes and ushers teachers through training. She has an MA n counseling and certification in Autism Movement Therapy.
Using songs, stories and organized movement on a regular basis in early childhood has many benefits for young brains, bodies, ad hearts.
The Northeast Regional Key of CSC is responsible for quality-improvement initiatives supporting childcare programs in an 18-county area of Pennsylvania. This work affects about 35,000 children ages 0-11 annually.
Nadine Slifka February 17th, 2016
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