Hello Families,

We hope you’re keeping well!

Following up on my previous email. We mentioned we would update you all as things changed, well some things have changed. In the 24 hours since we have sent our previous COVID-19 Handbook and information out to you all, we have received additional information and guidelines which are creating more changes to our program. We want to first acknowledge that all of these changes can seem scary, hectic, and overwhelming! Especially as they are happening last minute. But they are necessary changes and are being made in the best interest of our children, families, and community. ​We are doing our best to simultaneously communicate with staff and implement necessary changes as well as communicate with you about our adaptations.  A few days ago, we sat on a call with area directors and other programs, and learned that many of them are struggling and have decided to close down their businesses this week. We are fortunate enough to be able to stay open and offer high quality care due to your flexibility, your love, ​your participation, and your patience. I’m completely amazed by our ability to rally as a community and to keep Hilltop running. Thank you for putting your trust in all of us to provide a safe and healthy place for your children to thrive. ​We need you now more than ever to make this work.

As I mentioned, there are changes to the protocol in which we are highlighted in yellow below. Please read this letter in its entirety.

Vaccines for Employees and Childcare Staff

It was announced that all employees and those working with young children must be vaccinated by October 18th, 2021 unless ​qualified for a medical or religious exemption. Due to privacy law, we once again will not be able to disclose the vaccination status or exemption status of any of our staff or faculty.  We continue to follow recommendations on this and all other COVID related mandates.

Mask policy for Employees, Childcare Staff, Children and Caregivers/Guests

Everyone in our building will continue to wear masks when indoors with our children. When we are outdoors, it is not mandatory, according to the CDC, State guidelines, and King County Public Health Official to wear masks, however, we will continue to encourage staff and children to wear them. We do ask caregivers during pickup/drop off to wear masks and to socially distance when possible. (​It seems important to mention age ranges in this section)

Children Under 12 and Vaccines: What We Know and What We Don’t Know

We still do not know when children under 12 will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.  We do know that both Pfizer and Moderna are currently running clinical trials for children, and we are hopeful that Pfizer will be approved before the end of the year for children 11 and under, with Moderna following soon after. Pfizer is expected to submit for emergency use authorization in September for children 5-11 years old, and for children 2-4 shortly thereafter. This could mean a vaccine would be available as early as this fall – but the time frame can easily shift sooner or later. We do know that any vaccine is likely to be approved for younger children after school has already started.

Until younger children are able to be vaccinated, Public Health encourages everyone 5 years and older to wear a mask anytime they are indoors. Masks are required indoors in schools and child care settings for everyone. Everyone who is eligible is strongly encouraged to ​be vaccinated. This will help us be ready once vaccines are authorized for children under 12. Finally, get kids fully up to date on all routine immunization before school starts! For the latest updates, please visit our COVID-19 Vaccination for Children and Teens webpage.

Updated Quarantine Policy

King County Public Health put out this following definition last night:

The purpose of quarantine is to wait and see if a person who has been exposed to someone with COVID-19 will get infected.  A negative test during this quarantine period only means that they did not have COVID-19 at the time of testing, but they may still develop symptoms or test positive for COVID-19 later within the 14-day period.

  • Anyone quarantining should only leave the home only if are getting medical care or for COVID-19 testing. 
  • Watch for COVID-19 symptoms through day 14 even if a shortened quarantine is followed.
  • The individual should not attend child care or participate in other social or community activities (i.e. playdates or family gatherings) during quarantine because this could cause unintentional transmission of COVID-19 to others.

Is there additional support I can seek for childcare tuition?

King County has allocated $7 million of its federal ARPA funding to support families who live OR work in King County with the cost of their child care. Eligible families may receive financial assistance to pay for their child care. To be eligible for the King County Child Care Financial Assistance, families must meet ALLbelow criteria:

  1. Live ORwork in King County;
  2. Have children needing care between the ages of birth to 12 years 11 months, or children between the ages of 13 years to 17 years 11 months who have a disability or special needs;
  3. At any time in the past year, has your income, work hours, health or child’s health and wellbeing, or access to child care been negatively impacted by COVID-19?
  4. Have an income below 80% Area Median Income (AMI)

*** Please note that meeting eligibility requirements and completing an application will not guarantee your family will be selected for the program. Funding will not be on a first-come, first-served basis. The process is not a lottery, so only one application per family isnecessary. ***

COVID-19 Handbook
We will be updating that over the next couple of days and aim to send that out to you soon. There is a Seattle Public Schools meeting tonight which might affect some more things and we are waiting to see their decision. Stay tuned.

Final Thoughts:
Phew, I know that was a lot to take in and digest. We are ​literally working around the clock, getting classrooms ready, updating guidelines as they come in, preparing paperwork and everything in between. The volume of calls and emails we are getting is a lot and we are trying to answer them as quickly as possible. If you are feeling frustrated at the lack of response, please know that we are working as quickly as possible to get through them all. Thank you once again for your patience in all of these matter​s, if you have any questions or concerns please feel free to reach out to me so that I can better support you.

Yours in service,

Alfonso Campos
Sr. Family Engagement Manager

NEW ROOMS: 2021-2022 School Year Changes – Posted August 2021

Hi families,

August 31st, marks the 50th year of operation as a center. And what an amazing 50 years we have had so far! We are excited to be able to open our doors and serve you this upcoming year. As you can imagine, these last 18 months has been a whirlwind of changes, surprises, community building, challenges, and most importantly love. Love for our community. Love for our school. Love for each other. And with the challenges that COVID-19 has presented us, it was love that has helped us get through this past year. It’s that same love, we’ll need as we navigate new changes and requirements for the 2021-2022 school year. Changes we spent this weekend going over to be able to keep you, our faculty, and our children safe. Thus, it is imperative that you read the entirety of this email as we go over some of the upcoming changes being put into place.

Why the changes?

On August 18, Governor Inslee announced the requirements for childcare providers around mandated vaccines and the reintroduction of face mask requirements. These new mandates are now impacting the way we are starting the new school year. Unfortunately, we will need to maintain several of our current policies and practices going into the next school year. On Saturday, the Senior Leadership team connected and have decided to reopen Garden and Cloud to reduce the number of humans in each classroom space. This reduction in class size means we also need to adjust our staffing structure. We are planning on scheduling 2 primary educators for most classrooms, while keeping our mentorship program as planned. We are also planning to maintain our plan to have a support educator assigned to each suite.

How many classrooms will be in operation for the 2021-2022 school year?

In a non-COVID year, we traditionally have 6 classrooms open in our Queen Anne (QA) location and 2 classrooms open at our Fremont location. For this upcoming year, we will have 8 classrooms open at QA and 3 at Fremont to reduce the number of group sizes.

Will it still be a mixed aged classroom?

No. We are grouping children based on their ages​. For a variety of reasons (experience of educators, developmental needs, ages of children enrolled, group sizes, room sizes, COVID guidelines etc.) You will be receiving your room assignments in a separate email.

How many educators will be in each classroom for the upcoming year?

Each classroom will have 2 primary educators in addition to one support educator and one mentor educator. After the first couple of weeks, you will be assigned a primary educator. We intentionally wait to decide which educator will be your primary educators to give us a better understanding ​of the individual needs of each child ​and family and match them up with the strengths of each educator.

What is the role of Mentor teachers and support educators?

This year, we are happy to bring back our mentor educator program. Mentor educators provide guidance and support to all teaching faculty to ensure the success of their teaching methods​, curriculum development, and the success ​and growth of their children and families. Mentor Educators are divided into age development areas of study and expertise. ​In addition to Mentors, each classroom will be assigned a support educator.  These support staff play a vital role in developing positive realtionships with your children and the teaching team while also providing breaks, planning time, and consistent and predicatable support during planned time off for educators.

How is Hilltop limiting the amount of people in each room?

Per CDC guidelines, state guidelines, and local King County Public Health officials, vaccinated faculty in our building will be allowed to enter multiple classrooms​ ​throughout the week when needed, however, we will continue to monitor and limit the amount of people associated with each classroom. To allow for greater flexibility in our staffing plans we have paired classrooms together. The pairings ​(which primarily apply to Mentor and support educator staff only) are as follows:

  • Rainbow (infants) – Raindrop (1 year olds)
  • Cloud (early 2 year olds) – Mountain (late 2 year olds)
  • Sunlight (early 3 year olds) – River (late 3 year olds)
  • Ocean (early 4 year olds) – Garden (late 4 year olds)
  • Spruce, Maple, or Alder (2.5-4 year olds)

Hours of operations

Due to staffing coverage, here is our hours of operations:

  • Queen Anne will remain 8am to 5pm
  • Fremont will have various hours:
    • 8:00AM – 2:00PM for Pre-school
    • 8:00AM – 5:00PM for wrap-around care
    • SPS Bell Time – 6:00PM for school-age care (K-5th)
  • Fremont will be 8:00AM – 5:00pm on days where we offer Full-Day care.

Open House now by Appointment Only

We are inviting children and families who have not been to Hilltop before, for an Open-House. This is now by appointment only for parents that are fully vaccinated and should last no more than 15 minutes. This is an opportunity for you to explore our space, ask questions and meet the educators. In order to “reserve” your time, classroom educators will reach out to everyone individually to schedule appointments.

COVID-19 Protocol and Handbook

Attached to this email is our handbook which we will implement for this school year. As always, this is subject to change as new information, guidelines, and recommendations come up during the course of the year. We will communicate any changes ​as necessary.

Final Thoughts

We have poured a lot of thought, energy, and love in​to keeping you and our community safe. These are strange and trying times and will continue to be so until we get a hold of this ​virus situation. Despite all of these changes, one thing remains the same, the high-quality childcare this organization and educators will continue to give. As a social justice organization, we are committed to helping children grow, learn, and combat the inequities in their world which includes racism, classism, gender oppression, religion / spirituality, and so much more. We look forward to working with your child – the next generation of leaders, artists, activists, politicians, and capable and competent human beings.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please reach out to me, Alfonso (he/him), Sr. Family Engagement Manager.

Yours in service,

Alfonso Campos
Sr. Family Engagement Manager

Update on Required Testing for Everyone – Posted August 2021

Good Evening Hilltop Families,

Thank you again for all the support and understanding that you are providing during this really challenging time. We have been getting a lot of questions and wanted to update you on how things are going for the entire Hilltop community.

On the evening of Tuesday, August 10, we sent out communication that we would be closed on Wednesday, August 11 due to a positive COVID result from a family member of our Hilltop community. Public Health of Seattle and King County (PHSKC) was closed by the time we received communication so the decision to close was made using the online resources provided for childcare providers and with the best interests of everyone’s health in mind. We asked everyone to begin getting tested as a precautionary measure.

On Wednesday, August 11, we contacted PHSKC and spoke to a public health nurse where we were instructed to have any child or faculty in direct contact of that community member who tested positive, to begin quarantine immediately. This was immediately communicated to necessary parties and appropriate action was taken. We also received recommendation from public health to continue our request for testing and to begin tracking data on any additional positive cases. Since the positive case was not a child or faculty member, we were cleared to reopen the program on Thursday, provided that received proof of negative tests from anyone returning. Communication then went out announcing which classrooms would reopen and clarified we required negative test results for children and faculty.

Families and faculty, over the night and throughout the day, began submitting negative results from a mixture of rapid tests, PCR, and antigen self-tests. These negative test results allowed them to return to the program. Everyone that entered our building today, Thursday, August 12, provided us with evidence of a negative test result. Again, following our public health nurse guidance, anyone who satisfied both requirements, had the opportunity to return. Those requirements were:

  1. Must not have been in direct contact with the community member who test positive
  2. Must provide a negative test result from one of the aforementioned approved forms of testing

Unfortunately, someone who arrived at our program today, who was not in direct contact with the positive community member, presented a negative antigen self-test in the morning, satisfying both our conditions for reentry. Later in the day, they received a positive PCR test report, contacted us immediately, and were isolated from others as soon as possible.

This individual has been excluded from the program and we have notified everyone that have been in direct contact with them this week. PHSKC stated direct contact started Monday-Tuesday, since they got tested on Wednesday and received results today. This individual did not show symptoms and only found out they tested positive because we required testing from everyone. By no means did anyone intentionally enter our building with COVID.

Due to this case including a person in our building, we have reported the case to PHSKC for contact tracing. The children enrolled in the class impacted have started their quarantine. Faculty in close contact have two different paths as explained by the CDC.

  1. For those who are vaccinated, they do not need to quarantine but need to monitor themselves for symptoms for the next 14 days. Many of those people are opting to re-test in 5-7 days even though this is not currently required through the public health recommendations.
  2. For those that are not vaccinated have been excluded from the program and are in quarantine for seven days, and can end their quarantine, provided that they receive a negative test result taken after day five of known exposure.

Our #1 priority is the health and safety of our community.  COVID-19 has had a dramatic impact on our lives and that may continue to happen in the months ahead of us.  The current outbreak was unforeseen and unpredictable.  We understand this is not easy, stressful, and downright a very scary time. In order to continue to provide care and to stay open, we must all do our parts. This includes grace, patience, and love. We ask that you continue to be patient with us.

As more information becomes available, we aim to get that out to you as quickly as possible. We ask that you all continue to social distance and wear masks at pick-up/drop-off, continue to send in your negative results if you haven’t already done so, and continue to know we are all in this together. If any additional positives come up, we will continue to notify PHSKC and take the necessary action steps.

With gratitude,

Darline Guerrero
Executive Director

Returning to the Center – Posted August 2021

Hi again,

I want to start off by saying, thank you for your full support, quick responses and flexibility with us being closed today.  We know that it is an inconvenience and comes with some anxiety and fear. Please know that our entire faculty team are doing all that we can to ensure the health and well-being of our Hilltop community.

We spoke with Public Health of Seattle and King County this morning and they are not requiring us to be closed for the full 14 day quarantine at this time because we do not have a positive case from a child or faculty in our building. At this time, none of our faculty have reported being at a social event with a positive close contact, so all of our faculty are getting tested today as a safety precaution.  Once we have negative results from our faculty, we will reopen.

We will reopen each classroom as early as tomorrow, if we have negative results from the teaching team for that class. You will receive a direct classroom email from us with information about when your classroom has been cleared to reopen. Your child can return to the program with a negative result from a COVID test for your family.

The CDC does recommend, if you and your child did attend a social gathering event and were in close proximity to the person who tested positive, you follow the guidelines for when you can be around others. If you have been vaccinated, you don’t need to quarantine, unless you are showing symptoms. However, you child should remain quarantined because they are unable to be vaccinated at this time.

If a positive test comes back for a faculty member or child in our program, we will officially need to report it to Public Health of Seattle and King County for tracking purposes and our center will be directed to follow closure procedures. We will notify you directly if this is the scenario. Hopefully with all of these precautionary measures, we can avoid this.

Update: We have heard from the parent who tested positive and they have shared that they did not have symptoms while in attendance at the social event. Symptoms arrived later that evening. This person is also fully vaccinated. We also heard back from the hosts of the two social events. We have been informed that both events followed CDC recommendations for indoor/outdoor social gatherings and all adults in attendance are fully vaccinated.

Please understand that we must maintain confidentiality in this matter. As an organization, we cannot disclose which event or classrooms have been directly impacted. If your family was in attendance, you will hear directly from the parties involved. At this time, our biggest concern is that we ensure everyone in our community test negative so we can all return to school. We understand that this is worrisome and some of our information is vague. We are doing the best we can with the information we can share.

Action Steps: Please notify us once you receive your child’s test results, negative or positive.

With grace and gratitude,

Darline Guerrero
Executive Director

IMPORTANT: Possible COVID-19 Exposure – Posted August 2021

Hello Families,

We do not have a confirmed case of COVID-19 within our building (child or staff). However, we do have a positive family member with a child that has attended our program this week.

Due to an abundance of caution, Hilltop (both Queen Anne and Fremont) will be closed tomorrow, August 10th.

Because our King County Public Health Nurse is unavailable until tomorrow, we are following CDC guideline and recommendations and asking everyone if you have the ability to go get tested to do so, on Wednesday, August 11 or as soon as possible regardless of vaccination status or not.

Why must everyone get tested?

The member of our community who tested positive attended an indoor social event this past weekend with several families from different classrooms in attendance. We have identified that at least one individual from each of our classrooms at both sites, either directly or indirectly can be traced back to this gathering.

Why can’t the adults and families there just get tested?

Just like we have been operating the entire year as an organization, we are taking an abundance of caution to prioritize the health and well-being of our entire community. Thus, we are asking everyone to get tested.

Why has it taken so long for us to be notified?
The member of our community who tested positive has experienced symptoms and received a positive test this evening. They confirmed they wore a face mask at this social event but also confirm they are ill and showing symptoms the following day.

Why are we only closed tomorrow?

Once again, because our King County Public Health Nurse is not available right now afterhours, we are unable to get into contact with them. As a precaution, we will await guidance from them and close both sites. We will use guidance from Public Health to determine next steps.

Who tested positive?

Unfortunately, due to confidentiality laws, we are unable to disclose the name of the individual who has tested positive.

Why does the entire center have to close?
There were several social gatherings this past weekend in which members of several classrooms were in attendance.

What’s next?
Everyone including all faculty and families must be tested.

How long must I quarantine?

We are awaiting further advice from our Public Health Notice. We will update you tomorrow or as soon as we get into contact with them with further instructions. Depending on recommendations, there is a possibility we will have to remain close between 10-14 days, which will end our school year early. We are hoping this is not the case.

Implications moving forward

We cannot stress enough that we should not attend gatherings that are indoors. In addition, we have to remain diligent in not associating with people outside of our classroom regardless of vaccination status.

We understand at this time you have a ton of questions. We are working as fast as possible to coordinate with the officials. We thank you for your patience and grace as we determine next steps. We encourage you, if you have the opportunity, to make plans for a disruption in service for at the very worse, end of our COVID Session/School Year. As more information becomes available, I will reach out.

With regards,

Darline Guerrero
Executive Director

Closing Out the 2020-2021 School Year – Posted August 2021

Yesterday, at our leadership team meeting, we opened up our meeting, as we usually do, with a check-in about how we are coming into today’s space. As we went around the table, we all expressed how this summer has felt like a season of newness. Of change. With COVID-19 still a thing (thank you for continuing to mask up, getting tested when showing symptoms, becoming vaccinated, and quarantining after crossing state lines). We know it is hard to break free of the cycle of stress, anxiety, and social trauma we sometimes experience with these expectations. What we have come to realize is, we really haven’t changed our standards or commitments, we are just viewing our jobs, our interactions, our relationship to the world and to each other in a new light.

Newness is the fabric of life. With the rising of the sun each day, we have an opportunity to co-construct environments that says yes to great possibilities. To create policies, rules, and norms that humanizes one another and advances our mission as a social justice organization.

While we as a group, views newness as an opportunity for growth, it’s not lost upon us that newness sometimes brings about fear of the unknown. Fear, that the month of August brings us each year as educators. Fear even our children who are Kindergarten-bound or are transitioning to a new classroom are experiencing as we speak. Will things change? Why are we changing? What will the change mean to me? How will I adjust to this newness?

Newness has been vital to the growth of this organization for the last 50 years. The openness of us and our willingness to accept something new has gave breathe to the idea of using Learning Stories and portfolios. To moving from the top of the hill to the bottom of it. To opening up a new center in response to the needs of our community. To hiring of brilliant minds. And as we look into the future, we see just how vital it is to the transformation of this small private preschool to an inclusive, progressive, forward thinking-model that leaders from around the world can come and learn from.

As we close out another year of service, let us stop and reflect for a minute about the road we have travelled to get here. The people who have helped us along the way. The friends, family, and colleagues who have ventured off to greener pastures. The children, caregivers, and extended families who have walked through our building. And as those reflections come to an end, let us know speculate about what some newness could do for our lives. How new ideas, thoughts, minds, philosophies, can help us elevate and grow into the organization we want and strive to be? How new experiences can help challenge us, our status quo, our orientation, our mindsets.

As I said in last month’s reflection, our vision of becoming an anti-racist organization is a work in progress. A journey that requires active participation from everyone involved. As we move forward with looking at how we can lower barriers for children experiencing homelessness, create welcoming environments for same sex households, increase our communication in languages other than English, and infuse Indigenous frameworks into the fabric of our building, we will look to you to continue to give. We appreciate your financial support, and we value your time, your energy, your love, and your grace. Your contribution to Hilltop not only impacts our program today, but the classrooms of children that come after you, and the leadership that comes after me. Together we can ensure anyone walking through our doors will be welcomed into an environment where they are valued, validated, and are visible.

With regards,

Darline Guerrero
Executive Director

Watch Us on King/Kong Tonight – Posted June 2021

Hi Hilltop families,

Hilltop will be featured in a news broadcast on the impacts of childcare during pre/post COVID. The Guanco/Lawer family graciously participated in an interview from the family perspective and I was able to share some of the challenges and successes we had this year, as well as our feature plans post COVID.

The interview will air tonight at 9:00 or 10:00 pm on Kong and 11:00 pm on King.

Thank you,

Darline Guerrero
Executive Director

Mask guidance update for King County – Posted May 2021

Public Health – Seattle and King County is continuing to work with Washington state about implementation of the CDC’s new mask guidance for fully vaccinated people.

In addition, over the weekend, the CDC Director and the Washington state Department of Health clarified that ending indoor mask mandates should be linked to local COVID-19 rates and vaccination coverage rates. King County’s COVID-19 cases and hospitalization rates are elevated, and Public Health is considering whether ending the indoor mask mandate is the best option in King County at this time. We will provide an update later this week.

Here is what you should know for now:

  • Evidence suggests that the vaccines are highly effective at protecting fully vaccinated people from getting sick and reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19.
  • Everyone should continue to wear masks in health-care settings like hospitals, long-term care, or doctor’s offices; in correctional facilities; in homeless shelters; in schools; and on public transportation.
  • Businesses may continue to require people to wear masks in their establishments and to ask for proof of vaccination.
  • When unvaccinated people gather indoors, especially without wearing masks, they are at risk of getting COVID-19 themselves as well as spreading it to others.

Thank you,

Darline Guerrero
Executive Director

Updated Travel Policy – Posted April 2021

Hello everyone,

With the updated CDC Travel guidelines, Hilltop is changing our travel policy to align with what is currently recommended.


Vaccinated- upon return to Seattle monitor symptoms, no need to COVID test or quarantine

Unvaccinated- upon return to Seattle quarantine for 14 days, or 7 days with a negative COVID test


Vaccinated- upon return to Seattle monitor symptoms and get a COVID test, no need to quarantine

Unvaccinated- upon return to Seattle quarantine for 14 days, or 7 days with a negative COVID test

While traveling continue to wear a mask and observe social distancing regardless of if you are vaccinated or not.

Thank you,

Darline Guerrero
Executive Director

Newest Announcement from SPS – Posted April 2021

Hello School-Age families,

Based on the latest information from SPS that was announced on Friday, we cannot find a safe and reliable way to support children returning to in-person instruction. SPS announced they are moving the school bell time for all elementary schools to 8:00-2:30 with hybrid schedules. Even though the have not officially notified families which schedule children are on yet, they have posted the two different time options:

  • Hybrid AM option – 8:00 am to 10:45 am (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday) and 8:00 am to 1:30 pm remotely (Wednesday)
  • Hybrid PM option – 11:45 am to 2:30 pm (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday) and 8:00 am to 1:30 pm remotely (Wednesday)

We reached out to SPS and they have confirmed they do not have the ability to provide transportation to drop or pick up children from childcare providers at this time. Our organization does not provide transportation and we do not have the bandwidth to cover doors for several random drop off or pick-ups from families coming at different times, as well as from different parts of the city. We are supporting 13 different SPS elementary schools this year, so transportation would require a lot of organizing.

We surveyed all families in Alder, Oak, Ocean, and Spruce to gather feedback and a majority of our families said they were opting in keeping their child enrolled in remote learning and staying at Hilltop through the end of the school year, which ends on June 18 regardless of which hybrid option their child is placed. Another group of families responded that they were planning on returning to in-person instruction but would require care for before or after school on in-person days and need all day care on Wednesday. Finally, we had a chunk of families that did not respond at all, assumingly because there is so much unknown at this time.

This information helped us determine that preserving our current bubbles is the right way to go without welcoming a bunch of new exposure risks with children potentially traveling on school buses, being in different SPS classrooms, and coming from several different schools. I know that this was not the answer many of you were hoping for but it is the safest decision we can make for everyone involved.

In our ideal world, everyone that is currently enrolled would remain with us and we would maintain our current enrollment numbers. However, we know that several of you have been anxiously awaiting the return to in-person instruction. With that in mind, if you are planning on withdrawing from our program at the end of this month, please let us know and we will remove your tuition charges for the month of April in Brightwheel. We will keep your deposits on file with the hopes you will rejoin us for summer camp beginning the last week of June.

Things to keep in mind, if any particular classroom loses a majority of its enrollment, we may need to move children into another classroom and shift educators to other organizational needs. Also, if SPS continues to adjust their plans, we may receive inquiries from families and may welcome new families into our program within this COVID quarter. So many moving parts.

Sorry for this disappointing news.

Darline Guerrero
Executive Director

COVID-19 Vaccines Now Available – Posted March 2021

Hello Hilltop families,

I wanted to let you know that our faculty are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. After discussing the pros and cons with a small group of faculty to gather feedback about organizational expectations, we are supporting each persons individual preference for getting the vaccine at this time. If at anytime the vaccine becomes mandated by DCYF or CDC, we will reevaluate our position in our expectation for the organization.

Communication has gone out to the team to work together within their suites to schedule their vaccines to try and prevent multiple educators out at the same time for continuity for the children and to plan for possible side-effects of the vaccine. We will do our very best to support everyone’s request for time away and to provide as many resources as we can to get everyone through the process.

Thank you,

Darline Guerrero
Executive Director

Travel Restrictions – Update Guidelines for COVID Session III – Posted February 2021

Hello Hilltop Families,

We started receiving inquiries about updated policies for travel outside of Washington State from faculty and families. Here is the latest guidelines from the DOH:

Washington state has new requirements for those traveling from a country where the new variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, 501Y.V, has been identified

Washington state has new guidance around travel (travel advisory). In addition,

CDC currently recommends a quarantine period of 14 days. However, based on local circumstances and resources, the following options to shorten quarantine are acceptable alternatives.

  1. Stay in quarantine for 14 days after your last contact. This is the safest option. Monitor your symptoms during this time, and if you have any COVID-19 symptoms during the 14 days, get tested. Certain high risk settings or groups shoulduse the 14 day quarantine option: 
    • People who have recently been in countries where the new variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, 501Y.V, has been identified,
    • People who work or stay in an acute or long-term healthcare setting, 
    • People who work or stay in a correctional facility, 
    • People who work or stay in a shelter or transitional housing, 
    • People who live in communal housing such as dormitories, fraternities or sororities,
    • People who work in crowded work situations where physical distancing is impossible due to the nature of the work such as in a warehouse or factory, 
    • People who work on fishing or seafood processing vessels.
  2. If this is not possible, stay in quarantine for 10 days after your last contact, without additional testing. If you have any COVID-19 symptoms during the 10 days, stay in quarantine the full 14 days and get tested. Keep watching for symptoms until day 14.
  3. Under special circumstances it may be possible to end quarantine after 7 full days beginning after your last contact and after receiving a negative result from a test (get tested no sooner than 48 hours before ending quarantine.) This will depend on availability of testing resources. Keep watching for symptoms until day 14.

 Note: consult with your local health jurisdiction to determine the best option for your individual circumstances. 

Hilltop is requiring all children, faculty, and families to quarantine for 14 days after international travel. For those traveling domestically, if you are unable to quarantine for 14 days, you have the option to end quarantine after 7 days and a negative COVID test.

Thank you,

Darline Guerrero
Executive Director

Confirmed case of COVID-19 – Posted January 2021

Hello Hilltop faculty and families,

We have our first confirmed case of COVID-19 of a Hilltop community member. We have been informed that someone traveling for the holidays (out of state) has tested positive.

***For confidential reasons, we are not disclosing the name of the individual with the confirmed case***

The person has not been in attendance or in contact with any other individuals leading up to their travel so there is no risk of close contact exposure for anyone within Hilltop at this time. We will not be closing any classrooms at either location (Fremont or Queen Anne) due to this confirmed case. The person is following the self-quarantining requirements and will rejoin the Hilltop community after their quarantining period is completed.

This is a realistic reminder about how important it is to follow the travel protocols and to take the time to self-quarantine if your family made the decision to travel during the winter break. Please do not return to the program if you are showing any symptoms or opted to participate in group gatherings with other people outside of your immediate household or with people who had symptoms. Please honestly report to us if your family traveled or has been in close contact with someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 over winter break. It is important that we continue to keep our Hilltop community safe and COVID-19 free. We have put a ton of effort into our daily procedures and processes, it is vital that we keep up the successes we have had up to this point.

Here is a reminder of our returning to program protocols:

Returning to a program after testing positive for COVID-19:

A staff member or child who had a confirmed case of COVID-19 can return to the program when at least 24 hours have passed since recovery. A person is recovered when they have no fever without the use of medications and improvement in respiratory signs like cough and shortness of breath. Additionally, at least 10 days have passed since signs first showed up.

Returning to a program after being in close contact to someone with COVID-19:

If a person believes they have had close contact to someone with COVID-19, but they are not sick, they should watch their health for COVID-19 symptoms. This should last for 14 days after the last day they were in close contact with the person sick with COVID-19. They should not go to work, childcare, school, or public places for 14 days. If a person develops symptoms of COVID-19 during their quarantine, they should seek testing for COVID-19. If they test positive for COVID-19, follow the guidance listed above. Consider testing at day 10 even if no symptoms are present. However, a negative test after exposure does not shorten the 14-day quarantine period.

Thank you for your continued support,

Darline Guerrero
Executive Director

IMPORTANT: Updated COVID Protocols with Governor’s Mandate – Posted November 2020

Dear Hilltop Families,

As most of you are aware, Governor Inslee enacted further restrictions on gatherings and travel in Washington state that will be in effect starting today, November 16 at midnight, through December 14. Hilltop Children’s Center will remain open and operating as we currently have been as we have been categorized as an essential business that can remain open during this new lockdown period per the governor’s orders. While this disruption will assuredly have ripple effects on some of our families and their need for care, we are committed to remaining open during this time.

I understand that this new declaration causes anxiety and nervousness amongst some of you, which is completely valid and warranted. The policies and procedures that we’ve established over the past 8 months have done a tremendous job in protecting our students, families, and staff but we know that we must continue to be vigilant in maintaining our bubbles and limiting co-mingling of groups, as much as is possible in an early learning setting. This also means we must continue to update our policies and actions to reflect the changes that are occurring during this outbreak.

I also understand it was a difficult decision for some of you to return to our center in the spring when restrictions were first put in place and that several of you may be weighing your decision to continue into the next COVID session. We are committed to remaining open and to continue to provide you with the highest quality care you have come accustomed to while attending Hilltop. With a little patience and a lot of grace, we will get through this challenging time together.

Due to Governor Inslee’s latest announcement and Hilltop’s commitment to community safety in light of the COVID‐19 (coronavirus) pandemic, we will continue following the policies we’ve put in place to mitigate our risk for the foreseeable future. Hilltop will continue to monitor the situation and provide guidance as more information on the extent and severity of the outbreak becomes available.

In addition to our previous procedures and guidelines, we will be instituting further steps to protect our community in response to the recent surge in cases:

New Guidelines to Hilltop’s COVID-19 Response Procedures:


Please note, depending on the circumstances we may require you to obtain clearance to return from a medical provider before return to the center will be allowed.

  • Toilet seat covers for all restrooms at both locations. Teachers may have less ability to support toilet training and personal hygiene routines due to bodily fluid transfer. We will follow protocols as closely as possible. – Installing this week –
  • Upgraded masks (KN95 or comparable, depending on price and availability). As this cost will be substantial, we are asking for donations of these types of masks without depleting supplies for front line health workers. – Ordered a case today –
  • Household temperature checks. Asking all members of household to check their temperature before coming to the center. – Starting this week –
  • Recording temperature after arriving at Hilltop w/ the same thermometer (for consistency) for all children and staff. – Starting this week –
  • Asking for results from negative COVID-19 test if child of staff have been sent home or are absent due to symptoms. – Starting this week –


  • If you travel (domestically or internationally) with your children, Hilltop Children Center requires your children to quarantine for 3 days after you return home. After 3 days quarantine, children must take a COVID-19 test and wait for a negative result (additional day/s) before returning on site. If you chose to not have your child tested, children must quarantine for 14 days before returning to school.
  • If you travelled without your children, please carefully monitor yourself and your children for any symptoms and follow our COVID-19 protocols if symptoms occur.


  • We will be encouraging children to ask questions and express their feelings about COVID-19 and the fears they have around the virus. Remember that your child may have different reactions to stress; be patient and understanding.
  • We will work to prevent stigma by using facts and reminding students to be considerate of one another.
  • We will be limiting the number of group games and activities as much as possible. Instead, we will offer more individual, parallel play opportunities, which may include limited technology-based activities.
  • We will be limiting the number of employees in common spaces which may impact the ability to have planning at the same time. This may impact the number of email correspondences you receive daily/weekly.
  • We will be using the BrightWheel app as a major form of communication. Please use the app to notify us if your child will be absent, late, or early pick up.

HOUSEHOLD MEMBERS:  include individuals who may not live in the household but may be staying there or are otherwise present in the household on a regular basis (e.g. nannies, caregivers, home health workers, contractors, etc.) and includes anyone with pick up or drop off privileges at the center.

CLOSE CONTACT:  is defined by the CDC as (1) being within approximately 6 feet (2 meters) of a COVID-19 case for 15 minutes or more and can occur while caring for, living with, visiting, or sharing a health care waiting area or room with a COVID-19 case, or (2) having direct contact with infectious secretions of a COVID-19 case (e.g., being coughed on). Considerations when assessing close contact include the duration of exposure and the clinical symptoms of the person with COVID-19.

FOR MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS: If contact occurs while wearing recommended personal protective equipment or PPE (e.g., gowns, gloves, NIOSH-certified disposable N95 respirator, eye protection), that contact will NOT be considered Close Contact for purposes of this policy.

Previous guidelines sent to families:


Please note: these practices are in addition to our regular health and safety policies, and are being updated regularly, according guidance from CDC and Department of Health agencies.

  • All families and faculty are asked to follow the King County physical and social distancing guidelines
  • Any child attending Hilltop for the COVID Response Session must not join any other group settings concurrently, to limit the exposure
  • Hand washing upon arrival and throughout the day.  Hand sanitizer will be available when children are outside
  • Children’s temperature should be taken at home before arriving and reported to the educator or administrator signing your child in for the day. Additional temperature checks will happen as needed, if your child is exhibiting any symptoms
  • Faculty temperatures are checked upon arrival, and as needed
  • Limited/curated classroom materials are available to ensure proper and regular sanitation each day
  • Limited adults will be in each classroom to create as much consistency as possible and to reduce risk of additional exposure
  • No cross classroom visiting or sharing of materials are allowed at this time.  Full size dividers have been installed in previously shared bathrooms.  *** Two classrooms connected by 1 faculty member covering breaks/lunches
  • The playground is separated by a 6 foot barrier to be used by two groups at a time.  We have a rotating outdoor schedule to support distancing between classrooms.
  • Educators in classrooms wear masks while they are working with your children, and in shared spaces. Hilltop provides face coverings for all adults, and as requested for children.
  • Door handles, light switches, and other frequently touched surfaces are sanitized each day.
  • Morning and afternoon snacks are provided in prepackaged, individual servings, OR served by educators onto individual plates for each child. No food is offered “family style” or shared between children. Due to shortened hours of operation, there is no longer breakfast available upon arrival.


  • Children age 3 and older are required to wear their masks/face coverings all the time, except when eating, sleeping, or playing outside (when physical distancing can be maintained).
  • Wearing face coverings is optional for children younger than 3 – please let classroom educators know if you’d like your younger child to be wearing a mask.
  • When a child removes their mask, we will remind them that masks should be worn, and ask them to put it back on. If a child is consistently struggling with wearing their mask, or resisting wearing a mask, we will partner with their family to seek strategies that might support the child in mask-wearing.
  • Masks that have been worn will be sent home at the end of the day, to be sanitized.
  • Some families have noticed photos in our documentation and e-mail communications, that show children who are not wearing masks, and/or are playing in close proximity to each other. We’d like to remind you that:
    • Children’s masks can be removed outdoors, when physical distancing can be maintained.
    • Hilltop is encouraging children over 3 to keep their face coverings on as much as possible and reminding them to replace masks when they remove them.
    • Mask use is optional for younger children.
  • Children should be working and playing 3-6 feet apart “as much as possible.” This spacing is not always possible or practical in group care, which is why the Washington State Department of Health recommends physical distancing as a guideline rather than a requirement. Hilltop educators are creating opportunities for well-spaced play when possible, while supporting children’s need to interact and collaborate.


A temperature of 100.4 or higher within the past 24 hours, shortness of breath, other signs of new illness.  Those with COVID-19-like symptoms should isolate themselves and not return to the facility until 3 days (72 hours) after their fever is gone (without fever-reducing medication) and symptoms get better AND 7 days after the start of symptoms. Symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Fever, cough, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell

What to do if children, staff, or parents develop COVID-19 or symptoms:

If a child or staff member develops symptoms of COVID-19 (fever of 100.4 or higher, cough, shortness of breath, or other signs of new illness unrelated to a preexisting condition) while at Hilltop, they will immediately be separated from others until they can leave the premises.

Returning to a childcare facility after suspected COVID-19 symptoms: 

If a child or staff member has symptoms of COVID-19 or is in close contact of someone with COVID-19, they can return to the childcare facility once the following conditions are met:

  • If an individual has a fever, cough or shortness of breath and they have not been around anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, they should stay home and away from others until 72 hours after the fever is gone and symptoms get better. If symptoms worsen, they should contact their healthcare provider to determine if they should be tested for COVID-19
  • If an individual is diagnosed with COVID-19, they must remain away from Hilltop for a minimum of 7 days after the onset of first symptoms. They may return under the following conditions:
    • If you had a fever, 3 days after the fever ends AND you see an improvement in your initial symptoms (e.g. cough, shortness of breath);
    • If you did not have a fever, 3 days after you see an improvement in your initial symptoms (e.g. cough, shortness of breath); OR 7 days after symptom onset
  • If an individual believes they have had close contact to someone with COVID-19 but are not currently sick, they should monitor their health for fever, cough, and shortness of breath during the 14 days after the last day they were in close contact with the sick person with COVID-19. They should not go to work or school and should avoid public places for 14 days.

If we have a confirmed case within our community, we will communicate with all staff and families as soon as possible about our plans for next steps.  Since we are isolating classrooms, we will assess the situation and only close those classrooms affected.

The last thing I want to bring up is the introduction of a COVID-19 waiver. The board of directors and I have been debating on requesting everyone to sign the waiver to sign a COVID-19 liability waiver to continue attending the program during the pandemic. Attached is a draft copy of the waiver written by our legal counsel for your review. The verbiage in our waiver is pretty dry and “legally” but covers the content needed to clarify the organizations liability. Being that our organization prides itself on building in relationships, we didn’t want a liability waiver to cause uneasiness or tension during an already stressful time.  If it is deemed necessary to implement the waiver, we will be sending out an additional email with the final version of the waiver for your consent and signature.

Deep breaths. We can come together as a community and stand strong in our fight to stay healthy. Please let us know if you are planning on traveling or if you will be joining us next week. Wash your hands and wear your masks.

Hang in there,

Darline Guerrero
Executive Director

IMPORTANT: Program Updates and COVID Session II – Posted October 2020

Dear families,

I wanted to share a few important updates with you as we move into autumn. This email contains very critical news regarding signing up for our COVID Response Session II (starting in December), enrollment, and flood updates.

Flood Updates
We have heard back from our insurance company regarding our claim due to losses from the flood. Unfortunately, our claim has been denied as the event did not qualify for protection due to the determination that the water came in through natural entrances (doors/windows). This is obviously not the news we wanted to hear, and we are still seeing if there are any other courses of action we can take to recoup the loss we incurred due to the closure. The property management team will be remitting a refund for a prorated amount of our rent for the days we were closed and unable to utilize the building. This should be resolved within the next week or two, but we are not anticipating this amount to be significant. Regardless of the amount, as promised, we are still intending on sharing this back with Queen Anne families in the form of a credit. After consulting with our faculty and board, we have decided to extend our COVID Session I to run through November 25 instead of November 20 to give families three days of service as make-up days for part of the closure. These three days were originally planned as a closure for faculty professional development.

Due to a number of factors including the creation of personal pods amongst families, we are currently 35% below our capacity enrollment for our organization. As an organization that operates almost exclusively on tuition revenue, this is now creating substantial financial hurdles for us to overcome. Significant adjustments will need to be made throughout the organization to allow us to position ourselves to make it through these challenges. The current reality of running a business during the time of COVID is that it is almost impossible to project, plan, and anticipate what things will look in the near term, which means we must operate in a highly adaptable and fluid manner to meet the challenges we face. This was exacerbated to a greater extent when enrollment was cancelled between our summer session and fall session by families who found other care options after indicating the intent to enroll.

Contracts for COVID Session II (Nov. 30-Feb.26)
In response to the above issues, we are sending out contracts for our COVID Response Session II this week and asking all families to return those no later than 5:00 PM on October 26. This will allow us to plan staffing accordingly and develop coverage plans for each classroom. I cannot stress how critical it is that we know if your child will be attending for Session II (Nov. 30-Feb. 26) by this date as we will be making very impactful decisions based on your needs. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us with any clarify questions. If you choose not to enroll your child in Session II (Nov. 30-Feb. 26), please know that you will be moved to the waitlist for Session III (Mar. 4-May 21) and will not be guaranteed enrollment for that session as we try to fill enrollment spots with those families currently needing care. Individual contracts will be sent to you by tomorrow Oct. 23 and are due back on Monday, Oct. 26.

I know this email contains a lot of information and it is a lot to process. Just like Seattle Public Schools and other educational organizations, enrollment in programs and schools is down significantly and tough decisions are being made across the board. With these decisions come very emotional and valid reactions; please know that these are hard choices for us to make as an organization, and we remain dedicated to serving the children of Seattle through this crisis and beyond. We appreciate your support and know that the best way to stand with Hilltop is having your child attend our programs. Please continue to share out our amazing work with your networks and neighbors.

Take care and stay safe,

Darline Guerrero
Executive Director

Reaffirming Our Values – Posted October 2020

Hello Hilltop,

With the election day coming in a few days, I wanted to pause to reaffirm our values and the importance of diversity, inclusion, and equity for all individuals, particularly the underserved in our community.

We encourage everyone to exercise their right to vote in what many are calling the most consequential election in recent memory. That said, and regardless of the outcome, we remain steadfast in our commitment to:

  1. Accessibility for all children, faculty, and families
  2. Collaboration through open communication and commitment to working together
  3. Fiscal sustainability for long-term viability and excellence in service and operations
  4. Growth and engagement of faculty and staff through professional development
  5. Innovation in child engagement, program structure, and organizational culture
  6. Integrity by adhering to the highest standard of ethics and public stewardship

We recognize that in the remaining days leading up to and after the election, there may also be activities near our centers or in our neighborhoods. While we respect the spirit of activism behind these activities, we want to encourage everyone to live our values and follow the public health guidelines we are taking to minimize COVID-19 in our centers.

Equally important, we hope we can do so in a way that promotes understanding, civility, and public safety. We want to inspire unity and dialogue. To do so, we need to conduct ourselves in a manner that is consistent with respect for one another. If you find yourself needing time to adjust, grieve, celebrate, or any other form of self-care, please let us know. We will do everything that we can to support one another.

To our educators: If you live in a community that may be unsafe or have unexpected activities of activism, please let me know. I will personally help to find you and your family a safe-haven or resources to support your ability to feel safe. Mental health and a sense of security is important. Especially in the work that we do in caring for others. I know from first hand experience we often forget to take care of ourselves because we are always taking care of others. What is that saying… put your oxygen mask on before putting on others?

To our families: Please be aware that children often hear and see more than we give them credit. They will feed off of your reactions, emotions, and fears. If you need resources on ways to talk to your children about advocacy or our pollical climate, please let us know and we will provide you with links.

We are closely monitoring activity in our area and may need to make decisions to adjust our programming hours if deemed necessary as a safety precaution. We may need to adjust our staffing if faculty find roadblocks in getting to work safely. We are in this together and will continue to communicate with you as necessary. Hilltop will rise to this challenge- as we always do.

Be safe and well,

Darline Guerrero
Executive Director

School-Age Care Options During 2020-2021 SPS school year – Posted September 2020

Dear former and current Hilltop families,

Let me start by saying how grateful we are are to our community of supporters during these challenging last 6 months. With you standing behind us, we have been able to remain open and serve families at a time when other centers are closing. The decision by Seattle Public Schools to move to 100% remote learning during the school year has presented a challenge to our families who need care for their child in order to continue working. We are committed to providing our community with multiple options for care for the 2020-2021 school year and in response secured space in Fremont for our school age families beginning in September. Our fall plan involves researched strategies to ensure that a return to in-person care/learning for our children is possible while taking into consideration future mandates associated with COVID-19. This plan accommodates a range of possibilities and places the health and safety of our children, families, and faculty at the forefront of our efforts.

When we developed this program, many families in our community reached out and voiced that they were interested in this opportunity and would register to attend if there was an option. Since then, we have put in countless hours and resources in to leasing a building, finding space in our current building, hiring educators and creating curriculum to meet family needs. In the last week, we have had several families pull out of the registration process for various reasons. This is alarming to us as an organization. If we cannot generate enough revenue/enrollment, we are at risk of being in serious financial trouble.

We are leasing a building in Fremont Village for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year to be responsive to the high demand for school-age care in our community. We know childcare is particularly important and must be available for our medical workers, first responders, and others serving vital functions during this public health emergency, as well as for those who cannot work from home and do not have other childcare options. The temporary Fremont location will run from September 1, 2020 through August 20, 2021 with plans for a summer camp program.

CLASSROOM 1: Bridge Year (12 total spaces)
8:00-4:00 – $1875/mo.

We have now opened up a Kindergarten option for online instruction to our programming offerings. We will offer opportunities for our Kindergarten students in small groups for online instruction with one of our educators. This tailored service has caused us to limit the capacity in the Kindergarten classroom to 12 children. However the price of tuition has not been reduced since we are providing three educators in the classroom to allow for individualized instructional support for our youngest elementary learners.

CLASSROOM 2: Virtual Learning (12)
8:00-4:00 – $1775/mo.

Designed for families who opted to have their child complete their school year 100% online with no intention of returning to campus regardless of plans.

CLASSROOM 3: SPS Hybrid (12)
8:00-2:00 – $1200/mo.

Designed for families who plan on sending their children back to school at some point. They will start 100% online, transition to hybrid (3 days virtual/2 days in-person), and finally back to fully in-person.

CLASSROOM 4:  SPS Hybrid w/ PM Option (12)
8:00-2:00 – $1200/mo
PM Option (choice to add wraparound care)
2:00-5:00 – $675/mo

Designed for families who plan on sending their children back to school at some point. They will start 100% online, transition to hybrid (3 days virtual/2 days in-person), and finally back to fully in-person.

For those families who need additional wraparound care from 2-5p, this classroom provides that option.

Although our Fremont location does not have direct access to an outdoor play space, we have developed a plan to accommodate daily outdoor and nature experiences. We will take daily walks around the neighborhood (avoiding crowds), to the canal, and to near-by parks.

As you can image, deciding to open a temporary location takes a lot of planning with a liability risk to be able to afford the building the entire lease term. For us to be financially responsible, we need full year commitments from families for this program. However, we also want to be realistic that we are in the midst of a global pandemic and that additional steps must be taken to be responsive.
Our school-age program will run September through June with plans to host summer camp June through August. We have built in natural breaks in the calendar to allow for deep cleaning and to provide our faculty with well-deserved time away and professional development. Your enrollment will automatically roll over each COVID-19 session.

Enrollment Deposit: Hilltop Children’s Center requires payment of a one thousand-dollar ($1,000) enrollment deposit, outlined below. Continuing families have a deposit on file that will be applied towards this year. Your deposit (minus the $125 enrollment fee) is transferrable if you provide the required amount of notice and follow withdrawal procedures:

  1. Withdrawal Deposit: payment of five hundred-dollar ($500) withdrawal deposit. The withdrawal deposit is adjusted to your last month of attendance tuition provided you remain in the program through June and there are no outstanding balances to the organization.
  2. Notice Deposit: payment of a three hundred seventy-five-dollar ($375) notice deposit. The notice deposit is adjusted to your last month of attendance tuition provided you give 30 days’ notice before the start of the next COVID session and there are no outstanding balances to the organization.
  3. Enrollment Fee: payment of a one hundred twenty-five-dollar ($125) enrollment fee. This fee is nonrefundable and includes the following:
    1. Emergency Preparedness
    2. Welcome Packet
    3. Registration Fee

Early Withdrawal (prior to start date of each quarter): Withdrawal is commenced by providing Hilltop with written notice stating intent to withdraw. Withdrawal from this contract fewer than 30 days prior to the start date of the next COVID-19 quarter will result in the forfeiture of the full enrollment deposit. ($1,000)

  1. Q1: September 1, 2020 – November 20, 2020 – Notice no later than October 31
  2. Q2: November 30, 2020 – February 28, 2021 – Notice no later than February 29
  3. Q3: March 8, 2021 – May 28, 2021
  4. Q4: June 7, 2021 – August 20, 2021

We have several openings for care both in our Queen Anne (ages 1-5) and Fremont (K-3rd) location at this time. If you know of any families who are in need of care, please do not hesitate to send them our way. Please feel free to share this email with your networks and email to enroll. We will be reaching out to Child Care Resources (CCR) and Childcare Aware to look for families in need of care as well. Thank you for your support and take care.

Hilltop School-Age Care Flyer

Darline Guerrero
Executive Director

IMPORTANT: New Fremont location for School-Age care – Posted August 2020

Dear School Age Families,

We are committed to providing our community with as much clarity and information as possible about the upcoming school year. Our fall plan involves researched strategies to ensure that a return to in-person care/learning for our children is possible while taking into consideration future mandates associated with COVID-19. This plan accommodates a range of possibilities and places the health and safety of our children, families, and faculty at the forefront of our efforts.

Our goal is to have all of our children on-site between our Queen Anne location for toddlers/preschool and the opening of a temporary Fremont location for school-age children. The importance of in-person learning as well as peer interaction is well-documented. Lengthy time away from school and associated interruption of supportive services often result in social isolation, making it difficult for schools to identify and address important learning and social/emotional needs of our young children. The safety of our children, educators and families is paramount. In order to ensure a successful school year together, we know it is important that our community works towards a mutual understanding of the expectations we have of one another. In addition to ongoing and clear communication, here are the measures you can expect from us:


Monday through Friday from 8:00am-5:00pm

Hilltop Children’s Center will close each day at 5:00pm to allow for more intense cleaning and disinfection efforts by faculty and cleaning service providers. Families arriving after 5:00pm will incur late fees starting at 5:01pm.  Depending on our capacity to perform necessary deep cleaning each evening while minimizing co-mingling of children, we hope to phase-in our next closing time goal of 6:00pm sometime in early Winter 2020.


  • An air cleaning and ventilation system with HEPA air filters installed in each classroom.
  • Children and faculty entering the building must have their temperature (at exterior doors) taken each time and will be asked health screening questions regarding potential symptoms.
  • All information, including temperature and other signs of illness, will be recorded on a daily log by the designated staff person. faculty or person(s) taking temperatures must wear a face mask and gloves. If a non-contact thermometer is used, staff does not have to change gloves with each new temperature taken. However, if a contact thermometer is used, staff will change gloves for each new temperature taken. Contact thermometers must be wiped with an alcohol swab prior to next usage.
  • Children or adults who arrive or become ill during the school day with temperatures over 100°F and/or any other signs of illness including respiratory symptoms (cough, runny nose, sore throat), chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, head ache, conjunctivitis, diarrhea, vomiting, sudden loss or taste or smell (including symptoms as a result of vaccinations) will be excluded from the program until symptoms have been resolved for 48 hours, or longer depending on the situation, without the use of fever or symptom-reducing medicine. A COVID-19 test is required with negative results.
  • Hand sanitizing stations are available at the entrance of the center.
  • To facilitate increased sanitation, disinfectant spray bottles are conveniently located throughout the center.
  • Whenever reasonably possible, the classrooms will be ventilated by opening doors when not occupied with children.
  • Doorstops will be utilized to reduce unnecessary touching of door handles where applicable.
  • “Hard to clean” items such as fabric for dress-up clothes and rugs will be removed from classrooms.
  • Snack routines will be adjusted to only include individually packaged foods (our nut/food allergy policies still apply).


  • Educators and children will wear masks while indoors. If you feel your child might have difficulty with this, please contact us so that a transition plan can be established to meet your child’s specific comfort level.
  • From the current CDC Health Order: “Children over the age of 2 should wear cloth face covering when not actively engaged in physical activity to reduce the risk for transmission.” Adherence to this guideline is encouraged for children under 5, but not required.
  • Families should wear a mask while they walk their child to the center door to be dropped off and picked up.


Student Groups

For the time being, children will be separated into small groups containing the same grouping of children and educators each day.

  • Children will not switch from one group to another.
  • Groups will not mix with each other.
  • Educators will remain with one group of children.

Arrival and Departure

Specific information regarding child pick-up and drop-off points will be communicated prior to the start of the school year.

  • Outdoor drop-off and pick-up: In order to limit unnecessary entrance into our center, children can be dropped off at a designated door for your assigned classroom. Please lovingly and confidently say goodbye at the entrance point. If you think that your child may have a difficult time with this format, please contact us to obtain some resources regarding establishing a good-bye ritual with your child.

Visitors to center

Hilltop Children’s Center is known for its welcoming culture on campus. Unfortunately, due to our current situation, there will be some short-term disruptions to this culture this year including the frequency and duration of on-campus visits. We ask that families and visitors come to the center only when necessary. Everyone who comes on campus will be required to follow all safety protocols and guidelines including wearing a mask and having their temperature taken.


Keeping our community and children healthy and safe requires a partnership with you, and a commitment to comply consistently with our precautions. Here are the measures we expect from our families:

  • Please show patience, grace, and understanding as we all navigate the school year together.
  • Continue teaching your children about proper hand washing procedures and practicing them at home.
  • Talk to your child about social distancing and minimizing physical contact.
  • If your child is not acting like their normal self in any way, families should take their child’s temperature before leaving for the center and should strongly consider keeping them home, regardless of their temperature.
  • Families will notify the center if their child develops a fever outside of the program. Families will not send their child to the center if their child has had any fever reducing medicine in the past 72 hours.
  • One adult per family is encouraged to be responsible for the daily drop-off and pick-up.
  • Upon arriving home, children should, at a minimum, wash their hands.
  • Families must immediately notify the center via email if their child develops any illness symptoms.
  • Respond daily to our list of intake questions at child drop-off
  • Children attending our center should not participate in any other group settings outside of family events.
  • Please inform us immediately if you or a family member are undergoing testing for COVID-19 and the results of the testing so that we contact the health department regarding next steps pending the results.
  • If you have traveled or will travel to any high-risk areas or have been in contact with someone known or suspected to have COVID-19, we ask that you and your child(ren) do not attend our program for two weeks or produce a recent negative COVID test, no older than 72 hours, along with a doctor’s note stating it is safe to return to our care.


While Seattle Public School (SPS) is organizing their virtual learning routine for the 2020-2021 school year, we are developing a daily routine in the center that allows for consistency while meeting the developmental needs of each age group. We recognize that the transition to learning remotely can be a lot to balance for our families, so we are committed to supporting the expectations of virtual learning while children are in our care. To make this transition as seamless as possible, our center will be providing break out rooms with faculty available to assist children with online support.


We are leasing a building in Fremont Village for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year to be responsive to the high demand for school-age care in our community. We know childcare is particularly important and must be available for our medical workers, first responders, and others serving vital functions during this public health emergency, as well as for those who cannot work from home and do not have other childcare options. The temporary Fremont location will run from September 1, 2020 through August 20, 2021 with plans for a summer camp program.

Classroom 1 Classroom 2 Classroom 3 Classroom 4 PM Space
Bridge Year (16) Virtual Learning (12) SPS Hybrid (12) SPS Hybrid (12)
8:30-4:30 8:30-4:30 8:00-2:00 9:00-3:00 2:00-5:00
$1875/mo. $1775/mo. $1200/mo. $1200/mo. $675/mo.
Designed for families who are scheduled to enter kindergarten who don’t want to have their first year of school be virtual or children who don’t meet the kindergarten birthday cut-off. Designed for families who opted to have their child complete their school year 100% online with no intention of returning to campus regardless of plans. Designed for families who plan on sending their children back to school at some point. They will start 100% online, transition to hybrid (3 days virtual/2 days in-person), and finally back to fully in-person. Designed for families who plan on sending their children back to school at some point. They will start 100% online, transition to hybrid (3 days virtual/2 days in-person), and finally back to fully in-person. Designed for families who plan on having their children stay home for remote learning but want a place to go for a few hours for peer socialization or for those who want extended care from classroom 3 or 4.

We will also be offering a Bridge Year classroom in our Queen Anne building for families that have younger siblings attending our program. Priority will be giving to currently enrolled families. Space is limited due to the limited classrooms and smaller class sizes for our toddlers and preschool children.


Although our Fremont location does not have direct access to an outdoor play space, we have developed a plan to accommodate daily outdoor and nature experiences. We will take daily walks around the neighborhood (avoiding crowds), to the canal, and to near-by parks.


As you can image, deciding to open a temporary location takes a lot of planning with a liability risk to be able to afford the building the entire lease term. For us to be financially responsible, we need full year commitments from families for this program. However, we also want to be realistic that we are in the midst of a global pandemic and that additional steps must be taken to be responsive.

Our school-age program will run September through June with plans to host summer camp June through August. We have built in natural breaks in the calendar to allow for deep cleaning and to provide our faculty with well-deserved time away and professional development. Your enrollment will automatically roll over each COVID-19 session.

Enrollment Deposit: Hilltop Children’s Center requires payment of a one thousand-dollar ($1,000) enrollment deposit, outlined below. Continuing families have a deposit on file that will be applied towards this year. Your deposit (minus the $125 enrollment fee) is transferrable if you provide the required amount of notice and follow withdrawal procedures:

  1. Withdrawal Deposit: payment of five hundred-dollar ($500) withdrawal deposit. The withdrawal deposit is adjusted to your last month of attendance tuition provided you remain in the program through June and there are no outstanding balances to the organization.
  2. Notice Deposit: payment of a three hundred seventy-five-dollar ($375) notice deposit. The notice deposit is adjusted to your last month of attendance tuition provided you give 30 days’ notice before the start of the next COVID session and there are no outstanding balances to the organization.
  3. Enrollment Fee: payment of a one hundred twenty-five-dollar ($125) enrollment fee. This fee is nonrefundable and includes the following:
    • Emergency Preparedness
    • Welcome Packet
    • Registration Fee

Early Withdrawal (prior to start date of each quarter): Withdrawal is commenced by providing Hilltop with written notice stating intent to withdraw. Withdrawal from this contract fewer than 30 days prior to the start date of the next COVID-19 quarter will result in the forfeiture of the full enrollment deposit. ($1,000)

  • Q1: September 1, 2020 – November 20, 2020 – Notice no later than October 31
  • Q2: November 30, 2020 – February 28, 2021 – Notice no later than February 29
  • Q3: March 8, 2021 – May 28, 2021
  • Q4: June 7, 2021 – August 20, 2021

With appreciation, I look forward to a wonderful relationship together and a successful school year for all our children. If you have completed one of our surveys indicating your interest in enrolling, you should be receiving a confirmation email from our admissions team. Enrollment contracts are due to us no later than Friday, August 14. It is highly encouraged that you submit ASAP because enrollment is based on 1st come, 1st serve and the demand for care is greater than what we have space.

Darline Guerrero
Executive Director

IMPORTANT: Fall Plans for Care – Posted July 2020

Hello Faculty and Families,

Thank you all for supporting Hilltop during these unprecedented months of uncertainty. We truly value the partnerships we have between every family and faculty in our center. We also are extremely grateful to our organizational supporters who continue to stand behind us during this time. Fall is very close; with September only a few weeks away we wanted to update everyone on Hilltop’s plan for the upcoming school year and how we are hoping to meet the needs of families while also maintaining flexibility that can adapt to new guidelines from health professionals and government entities. Due to the lack of progress and pausing of the Governor’s phase plan, we will be continuing our COVID Response Session model on a quarterly basis starting in September. By moving to this model, it will provide ample time for our center to transition back to our normal operations once approved by the Governor to reopen at full capacity.

Due to the uncertainty of what will happen with Seattle Public Schools (SPS) schedule for in-person or online learning and current recommendations from the Department of Child, Youth and Family (DCYF), Hilltop will not be providing afterschool programming for school age children this year. While this is extremely disappointing, we are looking for creative solutions to provide our school age families with an option for the fall that meets their child’s needs on non-school days, which includes looking for space in buildings within close proximity to Hilltop. We will continue to provide updates regarding these developments as they arise.

2020-2021 Plan: Changes to COVID Response Session

  • Quarterly Enrollment: In order to maintain our recommended group guidelines (bubbles, group size) and ensure more consistent enrollment between months, we are moving from month-to-month enrollment to quarterly sessions beginning September 1, 2020. Families with current contracts will have priority each quarter to sign-up for care during 2020-2021 if the COVID sessions are required to be extended. If a family opts to stay home but wants to maintain their contract for when the program opens at full capacity, they can pay a retainer fee of $300/month for the quarters they do not wish to send their child on-site. Tuition and retainer fees will have the option to be paid quarterly or monthly.
    • Q1: September 1, 2020 – November 20, 2020
    • Q2: November 30, 2020 – February 28, 2021
    • Q3: March 8, 2021 – May 28, 2021
    • Q4: June 7, 2021 – August 20, 2021
  •  Contracts for 2020-2021: Retainer fees will continue to be collected from those families who are choosing not to attend our program for the 2020-2021 school year until we can safely reopen at our normal capacity. Once we return to our normal capacity, your contract will start on the first day of the new Quarterly Response Session. The contract start dates would be:
    • 11/30/2020: If it is determined during Q1 that we can reopen at full capacity, contracts for 2020-2021 would begin November 30, 2020 and continue on through the school year
    • 3/4/2021: If it is determined during Q2 that we can reopen at full capacity, contracts for 2020-2021 would begin March 4, 2021 and continue on through the school year
    • 5/27/2021: If it is determined during Q3 that we can reopen at full capacity, contracts for 2020-2021 would begin May 27, 2021 and continue on through the school year
  • Bridge Year: Due to the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the start of the SPS school year and the needs voiced by families, Hilltop will be offering a program during the 2020-2021 school year for those rising Kindergarteners of families opting to not to enroll their child in either SPS or private schools. Many families have expressed concern over their child’s initial school experience for the family and want an option to have their child attend a 5-day a week program. Our Bridge Year program will provide this much needed learning opportunity and provide families with an additional option for their fall plans. Space in the program is limited. Attached is a little more information about our Bridge Year program.
  • School age care: With the unveiling of the initial SPS return to school model (hybrid online/at school learning, A/B schedules) and the recent update of SPS going completely online in September, we cannot fully develop a plan at this time. We can share that we are in the process of working with a commercial broker to look for additional classroom space in neighboring buildings to allow us to accommodate our school age children and provide a safe environment where they are able to participate in engagement activities as well as online classwork. We will continue to work on finding solutions to solve this problem as our school age children have been a part of Hilltop since the beginning.

We understand that these are additional changes to what has already been a time of constant change. Our goal is to keep everyone healthy while also providing the flexibility to adapt to changes that occur, whether good or bad. Your support and understanding during this period has been incredibly encouraging and empowering. Saying thank you is not enough! Here is a link to our Fall Enrollment Survey so you can provide us your feedback. Please feel free to reach out to me or the program team with any questions. We will also be scheduling another Zoom video call for families to talk more about the plan for the fall and answer any questions.

With appreciation,

Darline Guerrero
Executive Director

Fall Survey for Currently Enrolled Families – Posted July 2020

Dear Faculty and Families,

As the State of Washington begins a phased re-opening of business, we are planning for what this will look like for our Children’s Center this fall. In order to maintain health and safety for all, there will be some major changes in our procedures and policies guided by Washington and King County Department of Health (DOH) requirements and recommendations. This guidance may change in the coming weeks but is likely to continue to include:

  • Health Checks for all entering the building, including a temperature check, asking about emergence of symptoms related to new illness and COVID-19, etc.
  • Children and Faculty temperatures greater than 100.4 will not be able to be in or return to the program for 72 hours with no fever without fever reducing medications.
  • Pick up and drop off continuing to happen at the front and back door.
  • Reduce group sizes to no more than 22 people, including teachers, in a room.
  • Facial coverings required to be worn by people over 5 years old (recommended for children 2-4 years)
  • Staggering drop off and pick up times to relieve congestion at the door.

We would like to check in with families to understand what your likely childcare needs are come September. This will help us plan for staffing and logistics. By completing this survey, you will help us anticipate needs, be ready for your family, and give time to plan alternative solutions. For most families, we anticipate individual contact and discussion will be needed and/or wanted in addition to this survey. We are fully aware that this may change the structure and options we are all accustomed to, including part-time and 3 or 4 day schedules. We are trying to find the best way to accommodate needs versus maintain best practices around health/safety protocols.

  • Scenario A: Open at full capacity on September 1st.  If we can open at full capacity on September 1, when would you plan to begin sending your child to Hilltop? For example, would you plan on keeping your child home until a particular phase of re-opening in our county has been reached, or until a vaccine is developed? (Note: Families choosing to enroll but not attend would be required to pay the full month’s tuition to hold your spot or would be required to withdraw from the program.)
  • Scenario B: Continue smaller-capacity “Responsive Care” and open at full capacity mid-year. If we decide to delay full reopening, and instead extend our COVID-19 Response Session into September and beyond, when would you begin sending your child to Hilltop? In this scenario, enrollment will be offered month-to-month, with priority going to the families currently attending and/or who have a contract for fall. The spaces will remain at 5-full day/week in all classrooms. (Note: Families with fall contracts who do not enroll in the Responsive Care session can pay a monthly retainer fee [$300] to hold you space until we return to full capacity, until you join the Responsive Care session [pay tuition], or withdraw from the program.)
  • Scenario C: Full year of smaller-capacity programming. If we create a plan that spans our full enrollment year (September 2020-August 2021) to maintain smaller group sizes, we will release everyone from their current contract for the 2020-2021 school year. In this scenario, would your family plan to attend for the year, or rejoin the applicant pool? (Note: Families will sign a new contract under the new terms of 5-full day/week with selected drop off/pick up times. Families that currently have contracts and paid retainer fees or attended May-August would get priority.

We are keenly aware that in addition to the physical, cognitive and social needs of each child, emotional needs are most likely to be heightened due to circumstances of the pandemic and all of the new transitions at this time. We would like to work together to support all children and families. With this in mind, what are your top concerns about returning to the center?

Please complete the following survey to submit your response. Children in our school-age program received a survey last week. If you have not completed the survey for school-age, please do so now.

Thank you,

Darline Guerrero
Executive Director

An Update on COVID Response Session – Posted July 2020

As we move into the fourth month of our Response Session I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the events and situations we’ve encountered here at Hilltop during this time as well the early childhood education field in general. The current landscape for programs like ours is daunting; over 2,500 preschool enrollment slots in Seattle are no longer available to families due to center closures. The need and demand for high-quality programming far outweighs the available space, a situation that has become increasingly evident during this crisis.

I continue to be impressed by the resilient and amazing work being completed by our educators everyday. I am not shocked though; we have a very strong group of dedicated individuals who are committed to providing the best care possible for children.

We must continue to operate with patience and understanding as we progress forward during these challenging times. While there are still many unknowns and changes occurring daily, Hilltop will continue to be proactive in developing safety protocols that protect children, educators, and families while also providing the high-quality programming our community expects from us.

Without the support of our community we would not be able to provide exceptional experiences for children and combat learning loss. Knowing we have such a strong community of support allows Hilltop to continue to thrive now and in the future.

Thank you for standing with Hilltop!

Darline Guerrero
Executive Director

Hilltop will be CLOSED on Friday in support of the Silent March and General Strike – Posted June 2020

Dear Families, Faculty, and Friends,

Given the current circumstances in our world, I hope this letter finds you well. 

As a childcare organization rooted in social justice, with a commitment to disrupting systems of inequities, Hilltop must be ready to act in solidarity with those closest to the harm, and hold ourselves accountable to our stated vision of “creating a more just and joyful world.”

As we continue to reflect as a faculty, as a community – and for me personally as a woman of color – on the passionate protests and resistance happening within our city, region, and country, Hilltop and the larger early childhood community have continued to hold conversations. We are thinking about the impact and consequences of our collective history and individual complicity in creating systemic barriers that prevent people, especially Black people (including recent immigrants and descendants of people who were enslaved) from fully participating in all parts of society. As we have seen, not just recently but throughout the course of history, anti-Black racism has affected our policies, procedures, and culture, and has resulted in a disproportionate number of Black children in special education programs, in foster care, in the criminal injustice system, unemployed, and of course, murdered.

Thus, in solidarity with the statewide #BlackLivesMatter silent march and general strike on Friday, June 12th, we have decided to close our organization for all business activities, including e-Camp, enrollment/attendance communication, and childcare services. We look forward to seeing you again on Monday, June 15th.

As an organization, a faculty, and a community, it is our individual and collective responsibility to work towards achieving long-term systemic change. Friday’s silent march and strike is an intentional disruption to the system. A system which we have perpetuated. A system which we have benefited from. We recognize that not providing childcare on Friday will be a disruption to you and your children. However, we deem the disruption necessary to do our part in shining a light on how our society has been and currently still is disrupting millions of Black and Brown individuals – mentally, physically, and spiritually. By allowing our faculty and families to participate, we’re setting the stage for sustainable transformation, resulting in better outcomes for our Black and Brown friends, colleagues, and families across systems, across industries, across state lines.

This march is bigger than Hilltop. Bigger than each one of us. Anti-Black racism affects us all. We invite you to not just join in on the march (and/or the associated online events – for more information, click here), but to follow up by increasing your awareness and understanding of systemic, institutional, individual, and cultural racism, to dismantle systems of oppression within your own circles. There is also a children’s march on Saturday hosted by The Seattle Children’s March. This march is inspired by The Birmingham Children’s Crusade march of 1963, in Birmingham, Alabama (for more information, click here).

As previously stated, our Institute is ready to lead a conversation on race and racism. Please reach out and let me know if you are interested in learning more. In the meantime, we invite you to specifically check out two recent episodes of Napcast, a podcast produced by Nick Terrones, educator at Hilltop, and Mike Browne, Community Engagement Manager at Hilltop, that talks about Anti-Black Racism (Special Episode 1), and Instilling Social Activism in Young Children (Episode 3).

Thank you for your understanding, for your commitment and trust in our leadership. We remain hopeful that together, we’ll create lasting and meaningful change.

For additional resources please check out:

In solidarity,

Darline Guerrero
Executive Director

IMPORTANT: Follow up to this weekend’s events – Posted May 2020

Dear Hilltop community,

I wanted to take a moment to touch on what happened in Seattle and surrounding areas this weekend in response to the horrific murder of George Floyd and the actions that followed. It is important now more than ever that we speak out against injustice. I encourage you to show your support for our children, families, faculty, colleagues and neighbors of color who are surely feeling the weight of recent tragedies.

A number of gatherings occurred this weekend where large groups of people were in close contact with each other, some lacking appropriate social distancing and many without proper protective equipment. Hilltop prides itself in supporting each individual’s right to freedom of expression, at the same time we also have to think about the safety of our center during this time of COVID-19. Our number one concern is ensuring the safety of the children, families, and staff at Hilltop during the coronavirus outbreak. Limiting interactions in public settings helps reduce potential exposure to community spread and we ask that if you do participate in large group gatherings with no facemasks, that you stay home from the program for at least 5 days in case you are asymptomatic.

Unfortunately, our city was vandalized on Saturday night causing Mayor Durkan to issue a 5:00 pm curfew for Saturday and Sunday. We anticipate a similar order from the Mayor’s office for Monday and beyond if rioting continues. To get everyone home safely, we plan to close the center at 4pm on Monday, June 1. If the mayor does not issue a curfew order, we will operate on our normal Response Session hours (8a-5p).

On Friday, May 29, Governor Inslee gave an update of his Safe Start phased approach recovery from the COID-19 pandemic. The announcement does not change our current operation plans for our COVID Care session. We will continue to limit the number of children/faculty allowed in common spaces and maintain our health and safety practices.

We appreciate your understanding as we continue to provide exceptional learning opportunities during these times. With your support and diligence, we’ll continue to provide a healthy and safe learning environment!


Darline Guerrero
Executive Director

NEW OPTION: e-Camp for COVID Care – Posted  April 2020

Dear Hilltop families,

We hope everyone is staying safe and sane as we start to transition into a new COVID Care Response session that will cover May-August to provide care for our Hilltop families. Our intention was to offer families different options that would meet your family’s need and comfort, whether that be returning to on-site care or paying a retainer fee to reserve your child’s spot for fall. After collecting your responses to our family survey, we are excited to provide another option to serve your family and keep your child engaged.

Starting in May, Hilltop will be offering an E-Camp for COVID Care, an online-based learning and support program developed and led by our mentor educators, Trudy And Emily. The structure of the camp will consist of social-emotional age-based, emergent explorations during morning sessions led and planned by the Hilltop faculty that have opted to return to work beginning May 4; families will have the option to add mini-group sessions and/or one-to-one independent study sessions with an educator.

Session and Fees include:
-$500 per month for 5 hours per week (20 total) of social-emotional learning led by educators

  • Developmental Exploration Offerings (8-10 children): group games, feelings check-ins, mindfulness moments, and open-ended investigations incorporating language, creativity and logical development.
  • Lunch-group Socialization (5-10 children): Emphasizing social connection while bolstering resilience through informal virtual shared meal-times.

Add-on Sessions and Fees include:
-$40 per mini-group session

  • Mini-group Sessions (3-4 children): Educators will meet with the same small group each week, supporting developmental and academic growth through emergent and playful learning opportunities with books, games, creative activities, and much more!

-$60 per independent study session

  • Independent Sessions (1 child): Individualize sessions designed based on family needs.

-$40 per parental support session

  • Parent support sessions (tailored): Offerings will be designed based on requests from families. May include tips and techniques for managing daily routines, social hours, or other offerings.

 Understanding that every family makes decisions based on their comfort level and needs, being able to extend an additional avenue for engagement to families will help Hilltop in supporting all our community. If you are interested in enrolling your child for E-Camp or have any questions, please send an email to and we’ll respond quickly.

In solidarity,

Darline Guerrero
Executive Director

COVID-Response Session (May-Aug) – Posted April 2020

Dear Hilltop families,

I hope this letter finds you strong in spirit, body, and mind as we navigate COVID-19 as a community. I am writing to inform you of our plans for the month of May and beyond. Before we get into the details of our board approved plan, I want to start off by saying, thank you! Thank you for your continued support and trust in us as your leadership team and as your extended family. Please read this email entirely. It contains a lot of really important information about our organization’s sustainability.

During this period of great uncertainty, our ability to act quickly has been tested and has revealed the need for greater flexibility and adaptive leadership. We need to stand up and be the organization that is encouraged by resilience and be brave to rise to the challenges presented by COVID-19 and the ways in which it puts families at even higher needs for care. Taking into consideration your feedback, our values, and our commitment to serving families, beginning on May 4, 2020, Hilltop will be returning to a more “normal” service for current and waitlisted Hilltop families.

We understand that for various reasons, you may or may not feel comfortable about this decision. Our goals in making this decision are to ensure that we keep Hilltop operating to September and beyond, to keep as many faculty as possible employed, while serving as many families in need as possible. We hold steadfast to our commitment to providing exceptional experiences for children, families, and educators – a value that has carried us through other dire situations in the past, including relocation from our original site, 4 floods, and more…

Financial Impact:

Hilltop’s financial history is one that has been admittedly uneven. In the spirit of transparency and storytelling, we are including information regarding our current financial journey. We have evaluated our assets against our liabilities and equity, at the end of this month, we will be ending our fiscal year in the red by over $80k. Hilltop is one of the many nonprofits across the country who are facing financial instability. Although we know that things may seem bleak, we are confident that we can overcome this obstacle.

We have applied for several local, state, and federal grants/loans and are anxiously awaiting for funding support. We have applied for the Paycheck Protection Program loan for over $350k to help off-set our costs. We are anxiously awaiting our approval for this loan. There have been several grants that we have applied for that have been denied. We face the challenge of not meeting the criteria of serving ‘at risk’ youth, low-income, or other high demand populations that funders are looking to support.

We will continue to accept donations through our Coronavirus Response Campaign. Our annual give fundraiser will be pushed back until later in the year.

Current school year:

Effective April 30, Hilltop’s “2019-2020 school year” will officially end. This means all families will be automatically released from their current contract and Hilltop will no longer be collecting tuition. Families will also have options on their commitment to Hilltop that will impact their enrollment for September. During this time of crisis, we must find the best course of action to secure our financial ability to sustain this crisis and to have a Hilltop to return to in the fall. Securing enrollment ensures our ability to generate revenue.

Options for Families:

  • Option #1: Enroll in the COVID-Response Session. We will be offering care for currently enrolled, alumni, and waitlist families from May 4 – August 21. Families will be charged tuition month-to-month during this session and have the option of enrolling in one month, up to all four months in the session. Children attending the COVID-Response session will have a first priority for a slot in our fall session.
  • Option #2: Temporarily Leave. If you decided that you do not feel comfortable returning to the program at this time, you may opt to reserve your slot for fall by paying a $300 per month retainer fee. Your slot will be filled by a child during the COVID-Response session that is exiting our program at the end of the session to return to their previous childcare program or elementary school.
  • Option #3: Withdraw from Hilltop. If you would prefer to exit our program completely, your family will no longer have any financial obligations to the organization. No additional tuition will be collected for the remainder portion of your 2019-2020 contract. If you were planning on returning in the fall, your slot will be released to another family on our waitlist starting in May, going into the new school year in the fall.

Hilltop’s COVID-Response Session (May 4 – Aug 21):

We will be operating on a new COVID-Response Session schedule for any current or waitlist Hilltop family seeking care regardless of the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order beginning May 4. The session will run until the end of August, at which point we will have a week off to transition to our fall 2020-2021 school year. Containing the spread and impact of COVID-19 has made plain the critical need for systems change – changes in policy, practice and how we offer care to ensure our children have access to the quality, coordinated and sustainable services and supports so vital to child well-being, today and beyond this pandemic.

All classrooms, Big Body and the Community Studio will be converted to classroom spaces for care. We are not running our typical Big Kid summer camp program this year. More details of that will emerge later, including the response to fieldtrip and outside visitors. Each classroom will be limited to 7 hours offerings to help us stagger drop off and pick up times.

Tuition for Hilltop’s COVID-Response Session:

Our COVID-Response sessions are full-day programs and we will be charging our monthly tuition rate for the 2019-2020 school year. Monthly tuition rates will be as follows:

  • Toddlers (4:1 ratio) – $2140
  • Preschool (8:1 ratio) – $1975
  • School Age (8:1 ratio) – $1975 (we are maintaining the same ratio as preschool)

Once again, it is imperative that everyone fills out this survey by April 22, to let us know how many of you qualify in each category, how many of you will withdraw, enter temporarily leave, or apply for Hilltop’s COVID session. As always, we will continue to adapt, modify, and readjust as we go along to ensure we are best meeting your needs, our faculty needs, and being as safe and healthy as possible.

What Happens If We Don’t Have 64 Kids?

In order to cover rent, pay our fixed costs, and employ the educators in the building during the COVID-Response session, we need at least 40 children enrolled per month or the donation equivalent of that month’s tuition (at minimum, $60,000 a month). Unfortunately, if we receive less than 40 commitments, Hilltop might be in the position to have to close their doors until fall.

Who gets priority for the 64 spots?

Current Hilltop families will be given the option to reserve their slot in the COVID-Response session before opening the slots up to our alumni and waitlist families. It is our goal to support as many families as possible. There will continue to be financial assistance available. We have developed a tiered system to ensure we are giving priority to those who need it most:

  1. Essential workers
  2. Families dealing with crises (domestic abuse, significant drop in income, etc.)
  3. Single income households
  4. Dual income households

Please fill out this survey by Wednesday, April 22 to let us know which category you qualify in and which option you are choosing for your family. We are asking for you to complete the survey regardless if you need care or not. This will help us determine how many slots we will have available for our extended Hilltop community.

Thinking about the Impacts of Social Emotional Learning:

Research shows, the preschool period in a child’s development is a key time for children to gain the social skills that will allow them to be socially competent individuals and prepare them for school and beyond. Hilltop is aiming to create a safe and healthy environment that will encourage social interaction with peers and the development of key social and emotional skills they need (Bridges et al. 2004). It is particularly relevant for us to develop and implement routines, especially for children who are out of school, ensuring that they have access to regular programmed work.

We know that it is essential to provide engaging learning experiences that help build resilience, social skills, and the ability to retain learning because it will have current and future social and economic benefits for everyone – children, families, employers and society as a whole. Hilltop is committed to being at the forefront of field-building and leadership by aligning and advocating our practices with the best in the industry.

Social Isolation Effects of Home Days:

Different types of social isolation appeared to relate to different psychological domains, with social nonacceptance having a stronger relationship with poor pro-social skills, whereas being solitary was more strongly linked to poorer emotional functioning. Social isolation does have a significant association with reported child social and emotional difficulties, independent of demographic characteristics.

Mental Health and Physical Consequence:

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, it appears likely that there will be substantial increases in anxiety and depression, substance use, loneliness, and domestic violence; and with schools closed, there is a very real possibility of an epidemic of child abuse. This concern is so significant that the UK has issued psychological first aid guidance from Mental Health UK. The study discuss step to be taken to help diffuse the long lasting impacts we may face as a society the longer we stay isolated from one another. It is necessary to plan for the inevitability of loneliness and its sequel as we continue to physically and socially isolate. Up to this point in time, we have focused on the use of digital technologies to bridge social distancing with our children and families. and even while physical distancing measures are in place.

What Happens If COVID Ends Earlier:

In the event that the mandate lifts earlier and Hilltop can go back to serving 100+ kids in our program. We will communicate next steps then.

Next Steps:

We will be conducting a zoom call on Thursday, April 23 at 6:30 pm to answer any additional questions, comments, or concerns. You will receive an email invitation to this meeting. Please send any questions you have about the content of this email to We will do our best to respond to as many questions as we can in advance or during our call. Don’t forget to fill out your survey!

Just as our vision message states, Hilltop honors and trusts children, engages families, and inspires educators to create a more just and joyful world. We seek to the opportunity to provide care during this time of crisis and to model an emphasis on resiliency and respect for self, others, and the world around us. Our strategic plan and organizational values direct our work. This is a rare opportunity for us to guide our strategies to increase equitable access for our children and families, while ensuring program quality with strong health and safety practices.

We are confident the long-term impact of this plan will reduce the financial deficit gap, successfully help our community transition from this crisis and help children and families thrive beyond COVID-19. Please take care and stay involved with your Hilltop community! Families have been bcc’d to this email. If you have questions or concerns, do not hesitate to reach out. We look forward to seeing everyone back (safely) in the future.

With appreciation,

Darline Guerrero
Executive Director

Adding Additional Families to the Program – Posted April 2020

Hi everyone,

I hope you’re staying mentally and physically active and fit during this challenging time. I’m reaching out to update you on one of our plans regarding the month of April (more info about May and beyond will be communicated later this month).

As you know, we are currently open for emergency care for our families who are essential workers. We are currently serving 7 kiddos from 8 to 5pm, Monday to Friday, with a rotation of 10 educators/admin on site providing support. And as you can deduce, this leaves us well under our ratio.

Part of our call as childcare workers, as leaders in the community, and as part of our mission and values at Hilltop, we believe in giving back to the community and providing exceptional experiences even in time of a crisis. Thus, we, in partnership with the educators, admin, the board, and with the City of Seattle, have decided to open up our center in order to serve essential workers in the community who are in dire need of childcare. As part of that decision, we will be welcoming up to 17 additional kids in our center to maintain a child-adult ratio of 1:4 in toddlers and 1:8 in preschool / school age classrooms.

While we understand that many of us might have various thoughts on our decision to stay open to begin with, let alone serve additional families, all in which we have heard, slept on, and factored in heavily on our decision, we believe that we are making the best decision in a time of crisis. We believe we are contributing to the greater good by caring for children of essential workers.

If you are considered an essential worker according to Governor Inslee’s proclamation and have not secured a spot at Hilltop for our limited childcare for the duration of the month of April, please reach out to us at our new email address designed specifically for COVID-19 care at We will be monitoring this email closely over the upcoming days and week.

I know many of you have questions about what happens after the end of April. We are currently waiting board approval for a plan that is set to commence on May 4th. We thank you for your patience as we navigate new information each and every day. Please stay tuned.

Lastly, we thank everybody who has paid April tuition online or via check. This has allowed us to stay open, to keep everyone employed, and most importantly, allows us to have a Hilltop to come back to after COVID-19. If you have not paid tuition for the month of April, please do so at your earliest convenience. If you know of anyone who would like to donate to Hilltop, visit us at or click here.

We can’t thank you enough for your thoughts, your support, your love. We appreciate each and every single one of you and the contributions you have made to Hilltop, to our community, to our family.

With appreciation,

Darline Guerrero
Executive Director


Dear Hilltop community,

Taking into consideration all the recommended safety protocols, as well as the actions of Seattle Public Schools, we wanted to give an organizational update. As an essential service in the effort to combat COVID-19, Hilltop Children’s Center will reopen on April 6, 2020 with LIMITED emergency care for our currently enrolled families due to licensing restrictions. Aligning with Gov. Jay Inslee’s Stay-at-Home directive, parents are encouraged to stay home with their children if they’re able. Initial childcare services are reserved for our frontline healthcare workers, first responders and other essential workers.


  • Our hours of operation will be 8:00-5:00 daily, with a mid-day health check and shift change at 1:00 pm.
  • Classroom faculty will work with families to determine the most convenient ways to promote learning with limited social interactions,
  • Practice advanced daily screening/health monitoring upon entering the center
  • Continual cleaning/sanitation of the facility
  • Families who provide food for their children must do so in disposable containers. No lunch boxes, water bottles, silverware, etc.
  • Children will not be permitted to bring any items from home, including toys, books, and backpacks

These are truly challenging and unknown times that we are all facing. As we navigate how Hilltop will continue to serve and impact, we encourage everyone to reflect and act in a way to that contributes positively to our WHOLE community. We have started an online-giving Response Campaign to allow our supporters to contribute to our sustainability moving forward.

Darline Guerrero
Executive Director

Standing Strong in the Wake of COVID-19 – Posted March 2020

Dear Hilltop families,

I wanted to take a moment to check in and let everyone know the current status of Hilltop during week three of our closure. We will be opening for LIMITED EMERGENCY CARE for our families currently working in essential industries starting on April 6, 2020. If you have not completed the family survey sent out last week, I highly encourage you to do so as soon as possible. Gathering the data will help us as we plan staffing and bandwidth over the coming weeks. With the information we currently have from the state and Seattle Public Schools, we are planning to reopen the center at full capacity on April 27, 2020. When new information becomes available, we will continue to update you via email, website, and social media.

As new facts and information evolve at a daily rate, we understand that the financial situation for our families shifts as well. This past weekend, a few families indicated to us that they would be withdrawing their children from the program instead of paying tuition for April and beyond during the length of the closure. Our goal with collecting April tuition from families was to allow for a stabilization period for the organization as we continue to pursue additional revenue sources and options, including grants, loans, and laying off employees. If the closure continues beyond the current plan, our plan for May will be to move to a donation-based revenue model augmented by a reduction in our staffing hours.

Our family survey indicated a majority of families preferred Hilltop to not reopen for other community members to utilize our essential and critical service during Governor Inslee’s Stay-At-Home decree for our state. If a number of families do withdraw, discussions to open the center to other community members/partners beyond our current families will need to occur in order to evaluate all of our options for solvency. Welcoming new families into our organization may limit our availability to re-enroll those who are opting to withdraw during the closure period. We may potentially move families withdrawing from the program wishing to return in the fall to the 2020-2021 waitlist.

We understand the tone of this email might seem dire; our number one goal is to ensure that Hilltop as an organization survives this crisis and that our families have a program to return to afterwards. Right now, the threat to our organization’s on-going sustainability is very real. We have a current cash flow projection to make one, maybe two more payroll cycles before bigger discussion will need to take place on closing Hilltop’s doors. We have met with our bank manager to gather data on the new stimulus package that was approved on Friday for small businesses and non-profits. We are fully prepared to apply once the application is released. A number of families have also reached out with offers to donate and I would love to encourage those that can to give online through our online giving platform or with a check to avoid the services fees.

I know that Hilltop is a special place. One that we are all invested in. We are looking forward to celebrating our 50th years of service in 2021. Join me in the fight to meet this incredible milestone. For now, one of the most supportive things you can do for Hilltop is to keep your child enrolled and keep believing in us. I know it was/is a lot to ask, if you are able, please support us by paying your April tuition. If your family is in financial hardship, contact me for payment adjustments, tuition waivers, and/or other options.

Now is not the time to walk away from Hilltop. Not during a time of crisis. It is time for us to stand strong, stand together, and empower each other. It is the only way we can continue our mission of building on the wonders of childhood.

In solidarity,

Darline Guerrero
Executive Director

Hilltop Faculty Working From Home – Posted March 2020

To our Hilltop Community and Supporters:

The rapid spread of COVID-19, or the coronavirus, has thrust all of us into uncharted territory. At Hilltop Children’s Center and Educator Institute, we have been closely monitoring how the situation has been unfolding in Seattle, across the United States, and throughout the world, and we are working rapidly to respond in the best way possible for our families and the broader community.

With this in mind, Hilltop Children’s Center and Educator Institute’s response to COVID-19 is to model and advocate for what public health experts call “social distancing.” We have opted to close our organization until at least March 27, 2020.

Faculty: Starting last week, Hilltop educators and staff began working from home, interacting remotely with children, families, and each other, and using best practices regarding social distancing if we absolutely must meet in person.

Institute: Hilltop has paused our in-person Educator Discussion Series and other scheduled Institute programming until further notice. Where possible, we will continue to interact with our Institute participants and partners using remote technology. We will provide periodic updates on the status of our upcoming Institute events as circumstances change.

We recognize that, now more than ever, Seattle/King County/Washington children and families—especially our most vulnerable ones—need our support. Our program staff are working actively from their homes to remain connected to our children and families each day, through e-mails, blogs, videos, and live chats. In this time of social distancing we are taking our core commitment to “Learning in Relationship” more seriously than ever.

  • YouTube – Our educators are posting videos of themselves reading stories, playing music, and other interactive activities.
  • Facebook – Our team is updating resources, videos, and blogs about ways to engage with children while at home.
  • LinkedIn – Our leadership is advocating and engaging with Early Childhood, Higher Ed, and Public/Private School communities on the latest needs for the education industry surrounding COVID-19.

Advocacy: COVID-19 will especially impact vulnerable communities. Hilltop Children’s Center is prepared to advocate for just and equitable policies that will safeguard our community members who are already carrying more than their fair share of our State’s challenges. In the coming days we will compile and share a list of resources and advocate for policies and practices designed to address the needs of those of most impacted.

COVID-19 Education: We also want our community to understand this threat, protect themselves, and have access to evidence-based information. Below are resources we recommend reading and sharing:

This is a challenging time. In addition to the general threats to our health and financial security, COVID-19 is shining a light on how our social safety net and emergency preparedness are unfair, under-resourced, and leaving far too many people behind. Because of that, the pandemic represents an even greater crisis for individuals and families pushed to the margins of our communities. Hilltop is promoting social distancing because it is the first step in an equitable response.

Take care of yourself and keep an eye out for the well-being of your neighbors. Let’s all resist fear and make ourselves useful by relying on health and safety best practices and love for our community as our guides.

We will get through this together.

In solidarity,

Darline Guerrero
Executive Director

Hilltop Remains Closed – Posted March 2020

Hello Hilltop families,

I know the past few weeks have been stressful for many in our community because of the continued spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). We’ve now come to the point, with the guidance from the steps Seattle Public Schools is taking, recommendations from the mayor and the governor, that we must close our center starting Friday, March 13, 2020. We plan to remain closed until at least Friday, March 27, 2020.

Currently, we do not have any known confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our program. This closure is not to quarantine, but rather to align with the protocols our government and local agencies have put in place and/or recommended. We will continue to stay in tuned for more information for local and state health officials, which could further extend the timeline of closing our center. If you or a family member does contract a confirmed case of coronavirus, please contact me immediately at

Darline Guerrero
Executive Director