In 1932, Ms. Netta Ford, the Director of the York Visiting Nurse Association, became interested in Temple University’s Early Childhood Education Laboratory, an experimental nursery school in Philadelphia, Pa. It was during the “Great Depression,” and Ms. Ford recognized that such a school would enable mothers to seek jobs to augment the family income and, at the same time, meet the physical development and, educational needs of the small children in the community. Using materials from Temple University’s Early Childhood Education Laboratory and donations, she set up the school – York Day Nursery – in the old carriage house at 218 East Market Street, using the Visiting Nurses Association’s property. She supervised 15 children and was assisted by several volunteers. Lack of interest and financial backing resulted in the closing of the school.
As the depression continued, children became the innocent victims. With the help of Dr. Victoria Lyles, an elementary education supervisor for the York’s public schools, Ms. Ford developed a plan of action to reestablish the nursery school through the Works Project Administration (WPA). One of this federal agency’s many programs was to develop emergency nursery schools for ages two to four year old children whose parents were either out of work or on a WPA job. In 1934 the school reopened.
In 1943 the WPA funding ended. The local York government feared that the funding would stop when the war ended and therefore, declined to sponsor the center.
Arthur Thomas, Executive Secretary of the Family Services Bureau and an appointee to the County Council of Defense garnered community support by conducting a door-to-door survey using local air raid wardens to determine the community’s need for community child care. His efforts pointed out the need for community child care. His efforts resulted in a committee being formed and establishing the York Day Nursery in 1946. The Epstein home at 628 E. Market Street was purchased to house the school. Through the generosity of local clubs and individuals, the school remained open at this location.
In 1966, children from the Head Start Program began attending the school. The YDN soon became affiliated with the United Way of York County. A portion of the center’s funding continues to come from the United Way, making it possible to provide quality, affordable childcare to children from six weeks of age to kindergarten.
In 1990 Catherine Repman, Center Director, and the Board of Directors discussed the center’s potential for growth. A long-range planning committee, led by Mary Logan, was charged with studying the center’s growth potential.
The Board agreed to construct a larger facility at 450 East Philadelphia St. The new facility was completed in 1996 and was named in honor of Mary Logan for her long-time support, dedication and service to the children who attend the facility daily.
To this day, the York Day Nursery continues to provide a nurturing, caring and educationally stimulating environment for its children. Learning is taught through play. Problem-solving exercises, art, music, language, pre-reading, and pre-writing skills, and hands-on math and science activities are a part of the curriculum. The nursery is proud of its NAEYC national accreditation and PA Four Star level status.