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Skagit Valley College opens new childcare center

Jul 6, 2022

Skagit Valley College celebrated the opening of the Sue Krienen Early Learning and Childcare Center June 28 at its Mount Vernon campus. The center was the vision of SVC Foundation donor Sue Krienen back in 2017 and came to fruition through a partnership with the college.

“We see early childhood education and childcare as an obvious investment in our community and important part of the mission of our college,” said Dr. Tom Keegan, SVC president. “One might not think that a community college includes early childhood learning and childcare in its mission and vision, but we certainly do here at Skagit Valley College.

“As we all know, we have a critical need for childcare and early learning activities throughout Skagit County. This center adds important additional capacity for children and families in Skagit County. This center also provides quality, convenient, affordable childcare, the lack of which is a major barrier for our adult students with children to both attend and succeed in college.”

The Foundation raised $3 million in community donations and grants, including a substantial donation from Krienen, an $800,000 grant from Washington’s Department of Commerce in early 2019, and a $1.5 million grant from Head Start. George and Sheila Saul generously established the endowed Peg Moy and Sheila Moy Saul Early Childhood Education scholarship fund to support students pursuing a four-year ECE degree.

The center will serve as a Head Start facility with capacity for 30 children in two classrooms and includes an outdoor play area and an observation room for ECE students. Head Start is a comprehensive program for children from low-income and at-risk families.

“Those children are the most at risk when they enter the public school system, so it’s our job and privilege to partner with families to provide a quality program for them to participate in and get ready for kindergarten,” said Becky Richter, Head Start program manager. “We have a longstanding partnership and collaboration with SVC, and this is going to make it go even further.”

Alma Hernandez, an SVC ECE student and a Head Start parent, attended the opening to express her support and appreciation.

“I am a very proud first-generation college student, and I’m fairly new to Skagit and the Head Start community,” Hernandez said. “The Head Start program provides support, resources, and empowers families. It provided me with resources for my son when I was becoming aware of his developmental disabilities, and they also supported me to advocate for my children. As parents, we’re their first line of defense and their voice.”

Hernandez completed her ECE certificate in the spring and plans to work toward her associate’s degree in the fall.

“This center will bring the possibility for students like me to see a more organic take on observing childcare centers and more opportunities for hands on learning which builds experience,” Hernandez said. “Thank you to all of those who’ve done so much for Skagit/Island Head Start and our children and our community thank you all so much.”

The center will officially open for childcare in September. For more information about the Sue Krienen Early Learning and Childcare Center and fundraising campaign, go to skagitfoundation.org.


Sue Krienen Early Learning and Chidcare Center
(from left to right) Brad Tuininga, SVC Foundation executive director; Sue Krienen, Foundation donor; Dr. Tom Keegan, SVC president; JC Letourneau, Mithun lead architect and partner, Alma Hernandez, SVC student; and Tim Wheeler, SVC director of Facilities and Plant Operations.