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Merger saves childhood center in Easton

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The Spring Garden Children’s Center in Easton and the Lehigh Valley Children’s Centers, based in Allentown, announced that the Easton site has merged with the larger organization. From left are Drew Lewis, former chairman of the board of directors for the Spring Garden Children’s Center and Susan Williams, president and CEO of LVCC.
The Spring Garden Children’s Center in Easton and the Lehigh Valley Children’s Centers, based in Allentown, announced that the Easton site has merged with the larger organization. From left are Drew Lewis, former chairman of the board of directors for the Spring Garden Children’s Center and Susan Williams, president and CEO of LVCC. - (Photo / )

Since so much development and success in later life derives from early childhood education, the leaders of two centers saw the importance of ensuring that one of them remains open.

To achieve that goal, they merged.

Wednesday afternoon, the directors of Spring Garden Children’s Center in Easton and Lehigh Valley Children’s Centers, headquartered in Allentown, announced Spring Garden would merge with LVCC, a larger organization, now with 26 locations.

Spring Garden Children’s Center, which has been serving families in the Easton area for more than 50 years, has been struggling financially, prompting discussions of a merger, officials said.

“It’s difficult to be a single site, not-for-profit learning center,” said Debra Lamb, vice president of development for LVCC. “All the teaching and direct care staff will stay.”

The two organizations have a parallel mission, she noted.

After the merger, the Spring Garden site will continue to operate at its Berwick Street location in SouthSide Easton under a new name, LVCC at Spring Garden Early Learning Center, officials said.

The state attorney general approved the merger on Aug. 17.

“Spring Garden Children’s Center had been struggling for a number of years,” said Susan Williams, president and CEO of LVCC. “They realized as a stand-alone, single organization, the challenges were overwhelming.”

LVCC now has a $12 million budget and nearly 200 employees and serves about 1,200 children, Williams said.

Drew Lewis, former Spring Garden Children’s Center board chairman, once was a student at the center. He said it had become increasingly difficult to keep the center operational.

“As a larger organization, LVCC has the fiscal and managerial strength to ensure that Spring Garden’s mission is fulfilled,” Lewis said. “They have the breadth to take on a school that’s targeting a specific area.”

Investment in early childhood education results in greater success later in life, Williams said.

“It keeps a beloved center open in SouthSide Easton,” Williams said. “The impetus was to keep this center viable. We have an intact staff that families know, that have been here a long time. We need support from the community to help this organization.”

The center will again serve infants and young toddlers, she said. With the merger, families should see no change in fees.

The Easton center plans to enhance services and add educational opportunities as soon as possible, Williams said.

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Brian Pedersen

Brian Pedersen

Reporter Brian Pedersen covers construction, development, warehousing and real estate and keeps you up to date on the changing landscape of our community. He can be reached at brianp@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4108. Follow him on Twitter @BrianLehigh and read his blog, “Can You Dig It,” at http://www.lvb.com/section/can-you-dig-it.

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