Cassie Givans Kiddie Care rates high in hearts of alumni

by: REVIEW, TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Cassandra Givan gives a great big hug to Knox MacGillivray at Kiddie Care. Givan is an expert on giving hugs after 25 years in the child care business.Cassandra Givan’s Kiddie Care Child Care of Lake Oswego is not just a child care center, it’s a family.

The house on Overhill Drive is celebrating its 25th year of operation in 2013, and once they come through the doors the children never really leave. Instead of being a place of distant memory, Kiddie Care is a place where many students come back or keep up connections because Givan has created a place of such care and nurturing, fun and love.

“It’s a great feeling to be remembered the way we are,” said Givan. “When you spend 40 to 50 hours a week with a child, you love it just like your own. I have so much laughter with these kids. Every day is a new day.”

Perhaps the greatest measure of Givan’s success is the remarkably high number of her kids who come back to work for her. Fifteen young women who started out as toddlers at Kiddie Care eventually came back as caregivers for children. Obviously, Givan is a great role model.

“I started with Cassie when I was 5 months old,” said current employee Taylor Huck. “I’ll soon be 22, and I’ve been working with her for three years. Things have come full circle. Cassie became one of our family’s very best friends. I love my job and I love Cassie. This is the kind of job I really look forward to every day. Every day I come home with a story.”

Like a story about one little boy who “cracks me up with his mature language. It’s way beyond his years.”

Huck remembers being very big on dress-up when she was a child at Kiddie Care. But eventually the center greatly influenced her future career. She is a fifth-year student at the University of Oregon, majoring in psychology and child development.

“I came back because Cassie makes good kids and good families,” Huck said. “I love it that she loves kids. It’s not always easy.”

Allison Mackin is now a long, long way from her Lake Oswego home. She is currently a Peace Corps volunteer in Albania. However, she received the first preparation for her career as a teacher when she was a toddler at Kiddie Care. Mackin has fond memories of getting her hands all gooey with plaster, mud pies, Oreos and gummy worms, and having loving, strong relationships with Givan and her staff.

“In high school I was very interested in being a teacher and wanted to gain exposure,” Mackin said. “I had a positive experience as a child, so contacting Cassie was an obvious option for me. I worked at Kiddie Care for two summers while I was in high school as well as my last fall of my senior year.

“Cassie was very easy to work for and was very good to her employees. She was also a huge resource to her employees because of the experience and training that she has working with children.”

The saying “You can’t go home again” has, obviously, been disproved by Givan and Kiddie Care. In fact, you don’t even have to come back to work for her to keep up ties. The Kiddie Care Facebook page is a prime example of why Facebook was invented in the first place. There is photo after photo of Kiddie Care alumni along with photos of them as adults. It is good to play the song “The Way We Were” while viewing the page — tiny kids wearing big sunglasses; birthday parties with faces messy from cake and ice cream; hilarious outfits; babies kissing babies; kids simply being darling.

Givan has taken care of thousands of children, and she remembers all of them, she says. Their families, too. She keeps up with them after they graduate from college and go to live in all parts of the country.

“I feel very passionate about these kids,” Givan said. “I did child care even before I had my own children.”

Looking back on 25 silver years of serving families of Lake Oswego, West Linn, Tualatin and Southwest Portland, does Givan have any regrets? Yes.

“One of the hardest parts is letting go,” she said.

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