The Bayonne Community Day Nursery will celebrate its 40th anniversary on Saturday, Oct. 17 with a gala brunch at The Chandelier Restaurant.
The BCDN was one of the earlier efforts to engage kids in early learning, and has been ongoing since the nursery opened its doors in 1969.
Plans for the project began in the winter of 1968, when the Bayonne-Jersey City contingent of the National Council of Jewish Women began to look closely at the need for daycare in Bayonne.
“Those children we cared for in the early years are now parents and returning to enroll their children.”— Sally Mason
BCDN Executive Director Sally Mason, in detailing the history of the BCDN, said the 1968 study showed there were many families in desperate need of reliable child care services not available in the community at the time.
Program grew fast
A concerted effort by a cross section of the city’s citizens – including housewives, elected officials, local civic clubs, religious organizations, clergy, unions, and private industry – then began a push to raise funds to open the center.
The first nursery was opened not at its current Broadway site, but at the La Tourette Housing Complex on East Second Street. The first class was made up of 18 children.
“Working families experiencing varying degrees of physical, economic or emotional stress representing the spectrum of social, ethnic, and economic groups within the community all flocked to enroll their children,” Mason said. “In two years, the program grew to encompass 58 pre-school age children in three classes.”
Last year, the facility had a student population of about 97 between two and a half and five years old.
“As the only full day, year-round child care facility for pre-school children, the demand continued to outgrow the available space in the program,” Mason said.
As a result, another massive fundraising drive began, headed by community leaders such as Mayor Dennis Collins as well as active parents’ organizations, staff members, and the board of directors.
A new site was found at the location of the former Bayonne Democratic Club – a historic landmark.
The BCDN is the city’s longest-running daycare facility, operating at its current location at 27th Street and Broadway since 1982.
First kids now enroll their kids
“Those children we cared for in the early years are now parents and returning to enroll their children,” Mason said, noting that since 1999, the BCDN has been accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
In addition to the classroom staff, the nursery has a social worker, learning disability teacher, and parent educator. The nursery also provides a medical screening/treatment program that includes a developmental pediatric exam, audiology test, vision screening, and hermatocrit test.
“We are a community-based child care center that depends upon funding from a variety of sources,” Mason said. “We contract with the New Jersey Department of Human Services – our largest source of funding – while the City of Bayonne generously provides the dollars that help match the state funding.”
Over the years, the BCDN has also received donations from Maidenform, the Ida and William Rosenthal Foundation, the Beatrice R. and Joseph A. Coleman Foundation, the Turrell Fund, and the Sarah War Foundation.
Hudson County’s Department of Social Services provides the BCDN’s social service component.
Over the years, cutbacks in funding have brought other local benefactors to the forefront. Recently, groups like the Richmond County Savings Foundation, the Bettina Weary Charitable Trust, the Bayonne Community Bank, the Provident Bank Foundation, United Way, and the Churches in Cooperation Inc. have stepped up to help.
“While there is universal agreement in the value of quality child care, the government funds that support and maintain a program such as ours is simply not adequate,” Mason said.
Anyone interested in attending the gala or for other information on the BCDN should call (201) 437-6333.