Patricia W. Levin 2016
Lehigh Valley resident recognized as Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania: Patricia W. Levin
Patricia W. Levin, the second Executive Director of Head Start of the Lehigh Valley and founder of Community Services for Children, Inc, (CSC) took a financially struggling Head Start organization barely $1 million in revenues in 1972 and built a $26 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/Early 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.
Pat’s 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; founder, 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 Ms. Levin’s leadership, CSC expanded service to children and families from a handful of classrooms for the Lehigh Valley’s most at risk children to 32 classrooms in Lehigh and Northampton Counties and two home-based Early Head Start and Head Start programs, enrolling 1054 in total.
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 quality initiative that administers the Keystone STARS program.
Ms. 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, CSC works with 950 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.
Ms. 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.
Ms. 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, Ms. 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 16-county area, and family gathering rooms for education and socialization.