Donations Help Local
Child Care Center Expand



MOUNT VERNON — When schools first shut their doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March, local child care providers knew demand for their services would increase.


What they didn’t know was how they’d pull it off.

Nearly a year later, the increased demand for child care remains — especially for children of essential workers — and thanks to end-of-year donations Children of the Valley in Mount Vernon is able to serve more kids.


“It’s amazing,” said Children of the Valley Executive Director Flora Lucatero. “People in our community will really rise up and come through for our kids.”


In partnership with the Mount Vernon School District and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County, Children of the Valley has since the start of the pandemic been serving about 35 kids whose parents are essential workers.


What was being offered — at Mount Vernon High School and Bethany Covenant Church — was about all Children of the Valley could do.


“There was no more funding to expand and serve kids, so we had to really pivot and get creative to figure out how to expand our services,” Lucatero said.

With donations and a partnership with the Skagit Valley Family YMCA, Children of the Valley was in January able to open three additional classrooms to serve another 40 students, Lucatero said.


“We’re barely scratching the surface,” she said. “We’re all working together to serve this need. That’s been one of the biggest blessings during this pandemic is the partnerships.”


At the two sites, children between kindergarten and sixth grade benefit not only from having a safe space with adult supervision, but also from getting help with the technical skills needed to connect to the internet and take part in their online learning programs.


The students are referred to the Children of the Valley program by school counselors. For a variety of reasons, some had either not been attending their online classes or not completing their assignments, Lucatero said.


“These are our kids most in need,” she said.


To accommodate the needs of parents, the program runs from about 7 a.m. to about 6 p.m., Lucatero said. Children get two meals and a snack.


Siblings are seated with each other, and all children are physically distanced.


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