• York Day Nursery

York Day Nursery Celebrates 90 Years

In 1932, Miss Netta Ford, Director of the York Visiting Nurse Association, watched the toll the Great Depression was taking on children and families in York. Inspired by the success of the Early Childhood Education Laboratory at Temple University, and fully understanding the link between childcare and economic recovery, she established what would become York Day Nursery in the carriage house of the VNA building at 218 East Market Street.

“The foresight and determination of Ms. Ford is truly remarkable.” said YDN President & CEO, Brian Grimm, “her ability to roll up her sleeves and get the job done is infused in the spirit of York Day Nursery, a spirit that fuels our work to this day.”

Originally caring for fifteen children, and staffed with volunteers, her operation soon closed due to lack of local funding. Never one to give up easily, Ms. Ford, in partnership with Dr. Victoria Lyles of the York City School District, worked to convince the local Works Progress Administration to support the nursery school. Their work paid off when the WPA agreed to back their program, and they were able to reopen in 1934.

World War II and The United Way

In 1940 Congress passed the Lanham Act to fund childcare in communities invested in the defense industry. This funding stream became a lifeline for York Day Nursery, allowing it to install what we now consider to be hallmarks of high-quality care, including low teacher to student ratios, meals and snacks, and educational curriculum.

Despite nation-wide pleas to extend the program, the Lanham Act funding ended with the conclusion of WWII, forcing York Day Nursery to seek support once again. Carrying on Ms. Ford’s determined commitment to the mission, Mr. Arthur Thomas, Executive Secretary of the Family Services Bureau, and an appointee to the County Council of Defense, started a door-to-door campaign to raise support for local childcare. In 1946, his efforts resulted in a new committee which later established York Day Nursery at 628 East Market Street, where it would reside for the next fifty years.

In 1966, York Day Nursery became a partner agency with the local United Way, a relationship that continues to strengthen the mission to this day.

“York Day Nursery has been a long-time partner with United Way of York County in providing quality, accessible, and affordable childcare which we know is a bedrock in our community for families and children,” says Anne Druck, the President of United Way of York County, “We congratulate them on their 90th anniversary and the recent expansion into a second center.”

Growth and expansion

In 1990, the Board of Directors in partnership with Catherine Repman, the Director of York Day Nursery, embarked on a long-range plan that would pave the way for the existing facility at 450 East Philadelphia Street. Opening in 1996, this facility allowed the Nursery to expand access to more children and families while maintaining the high-quality services YDN had come to represent.

“I began working at York Day in January 1992,” says Dana Shiflett, a teacher in the Pre-K 3 classroom and the longest tenured employee. “I feel privileged knowing that I started out at the original center on Market Street, and thirty years later, I’m still here. I have so many memories from both the past and present buildings that I will forever be thankful for.”

In 2012, a capital campaign chaired by Meg and Pete Brubaker, and supported by generous contributions from the community, raised funds to add a multipurpose room and storage space to the facility. The multipurpose room provides space for physical activity during the cold Pennsylvania winters. On any given day this room will host soccer practice, tennis lessons, bike riding, and occasionally, a dance party.

Today and tomorrow

While the world weathered the COVID19 pandemic and the childcare industry faced enormous challenges, York Day Nursery was able to grow. In 2021, the first YDN satellite location opened on the campus of York County School of Technology. This innovative workforce development partnership expanded access to high-quality childcare to an additional 80 families while strengthening the pipeline of early childhood educators.

“Much like Netta Ford and Arthur Thomas, the YDN leadership saw the opportunity at York County School of technology as a way to deliver on our mission in a new and important way.” Says Laura O’Grady, Vice President of Advancement. “Our entire community benefits from every additional family who can enroll.”

In celebration of ninety years, York Day Nursery is thanking the committed individuals who kept the mission alive through so many decades. “We’re going to have a variety of events to mark the anniversary and thank our supporters throughout the year so keep an eye out for invitations,” says Laura.

With roots in the Great Depression, York Day Nursery remains firmly committed to delivering the high-quality childcare that is the backbone to a thriving economy. To strengthen the future and honor this legacy, please consider a planned gift to York Day Nursery. Planned gifts help ensure the next 90 years are just as bright.

For more information on making a planned gift please contact Laura O’Grady, Vice President of Advancement, at 717-650-2605 ext. 101 or at

99 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All