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Archives spotlight: Need for caring child daycare bridges centuries

Laddby Phyllis Ladd

When reading documents from the charitable programs with which the Sisters of Providence have been connected, one may wonder what decade or even what century we are in. There is a familiar echo of today in the report that Sister Prudentia presented at the Charities Convention in Buffalo, New York, in 1926 about the Holyoke Day Nursery.


playground hugThe nursery, which opened in 1916 under the auspices of the St. Agnes Guild, Catholic Charities, and the Diocese of Springfield, was run by the Sisters of Providence.

It is a constructive work and aims to keep the home together; many times solving the problem for the poor mother who has to work, who wishes to have her children with her at night, but has no one to care for them during the day…. The father who is left to act as mother is also glad to have the Day Nursery to care for the children.

At noon the school children have dinner…. We have to do this for the school children in our City, as no provision is made elsewhere…and we feel that children who get a scanty breakfast need at least one substantial meal.

After describing the physical exam, dental, and nutritional services provided at the Nursery, Sister Prudentia continues: “Giving the child the start or foundation in health tends to prevent serious conditions in later years.”

Today, judging by the difficulty of sustaining funding for Head Start, Full Day Kindergarten, and school breakfasts and/or lunches, society still needs to be convinced about what Sister Prudentia believed.

day nursery bus

And most day care programs in the 21st century do not provide the following:

Our Bus, the use of which is free for our children, goes to the various homes in the morning, and brings the children back at night; thus enabling the mothers to give a little more time to the children…and it enables the mother to go directly to her work in the morning, and in the evening to go home instead of having to come to the nursery after a hard day’s work.


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