St. Albans Child Enrichment Center
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HISTORY OF ST. ALBAN'S DAY NURSERY, INC. aka ST. ALBAN'S CHILD ENRICHMENT CENTER
Early St. Alban's history provided by Ms. Mercy Machin, former Social Worker
In 1949, a pastor in the Coconut Grove area suggested to the Coconut Grove Citizens Committee for Slum Clearance that one of the greatest needs was that of a Day Nursery to care for pre-school age children or working mothers. A survey of the area at that time showed over 300 children needed such care.
In September of that year, St. Alban's Day Nursery, Incorporated, was chartered by the State of Florida, housed in a frame building made available rent-free by Christ Episcopal Church.
With a $100.00 nest egg from the Slum Clearance Committee, and cooperation of many local merchants who donated food, equipment and building supplies, the Nursery was launched on its first year as a non-profit, non-denominational, unsegregated, charitable and educational institution. It is located in a predominately Black neighborhood of low to middle income families, however, children of all ethnic backgrounds are served.
In December 1949, the first by-laws were adopted, providing for three officers and the Chairmen of Standing Committees. The inter-racial Board decided to seek Group Sponsors-organizations that could regularly contribute money in varying amounts and to enroll individual members, to ensure annual support.
August of 1950 brought appointment of Chairmen for the following standing committees: Admission, Membership, PTA, Supply, Maintenance, Finance, and Supervision. These committees immediately began to function.
In September 1951, the Nursery was licensed by the Florida State Welfare Board to care for 45 children in the structure then occupied.
In 1952, the Nursery was granted a deed for a plot of ground 100 feet by 336 feet on which to build a much needed new home. This is the property on which the present building now stands.
The April 1952 revision of the by-laws provided for five officers and these Committees: Membership, Finance, Curriculum, House, Admissions, Public Relations, and Maintenance. Revision also called for “not less than two and not more than seven” Directors-at-large, to be elected by the five officers for one year terms.
1953 saw the inauguration of the Building Fund Drive, which fell somewhat short of its goal. Interest of Mr. Arthur Vining Davis and his secretary,
Ms. Evelyn Mitchell brought an offer for an interest-free loan, which was gladly accepted. When the loan repayment due date arrived Mr. Davis cancelled the debt. Both he and Ms. Mitchell maintained their memberships from that time on until their death.
In late summer of 1955, the Nursery moved into its new building located at 3465 Brooker Street, Coconut Grove, adequate to care for 60 children, and so licensed.
In November of 1956 St. Alban's was included in the Community Chest and received some support from the agency during 1957.
An administrator was hired in August of 1957, to take full responsibility for day-to-day operations. Her staff attended workshops, conferences, in-service training institutes and completed college courses.
By the end of 1958, the Nursery was serving over 60 children from 58 families, the professional staff had been enlarged, and support from United Fund (successor to Community Chest) had increased. Facilities, staff, income and enrollment were to remain at this level for a number of years, although it was obvious that the need for such service was ever increasing.
In April 1963, the Board adopted revised by-laws. These required all parents or guardians of children in the Nursery to become members, and to require the Board be comprised of members elected as well as Board-appointed Directors. Further changes called for the election of one member of the Nominating Committee. These provisions were designed to foster greater participation by the membership.
During this year through the joint effort of the Public Relations Chairmen and United Fund Public Relations Department, several television programs broadcast the children and staff in action at St. Alban's.
By 1963 it became apparent that many of the problems confronting the Nursery called for professional Case Work services. It was clear that St. Alban's was reaching only a percentage of those in need. The waiting list of needy children continued to grow. Case work, expansion and upgrading was not possible without greater fund support.
A Planning Committee was appointed by the Board, to study the problems and search for solutions. As a first step, this committee asked the County Welfare Planning Council for help in determining whether the Nursery should expand or should upgrade and improve existing facilities and services.
The Welfare Planning Council report, completed in May 1964 recognized the need for expansion of day care services in the area as well as the necessity to upgrade all centers then operating – public or private, Acknowledging St. Alban's progress so far, and noting that other centers look to St. Alban's for leadership, the Council made these recommendations:
1. That a sliding-fee scale be established based on family income.
2. That an upgraded Personnel Policy Manual be written.
3. That Job Descriptions be spelled out, including educational and training requirements.
4. That teachers be encouraged to continue their educational and training requirement
5. That staff-to-child ratio be improved, (from 1-17 to 1-10)
6. That staff salaries be raised.
7. That a Social Worker be employed.
Action toward implementation of all these recommendations began immediately. The first four were rapidly accomplishment. The last three, depending on greater money support, were delayed. Not until contractual arrangements with EOPI in 1966 brought some relief, were the fifth and sixth goals approached or met. The seventh concerning a Case Worker was not realized until Federal and State funds became available.
In 1965, St. Alban's received a bequest from the Estate of Fannie L. Blumberg, who had earlier shown great interest in the work of the Nursery. The $26,000.00 fund was earmarked for construction of an addition large enough to care for 40 more children, if money could be found to support such care.
By the time the addition was ready for occupancy, in the summer of 1996, a contract had been negotiated with the Economic Opportunity Program, for sufficient funds to equip, supply and staff for 30 children in the poverty bracket. This EOPI-St. Alban's contract was a new approach, for until now all Day Care Centers were operated by EOPI itself. The agreement allows some variation in operation and control. St. Alban's policies in many instances supercede those of EOPI as set for their own centers. The relationship was a good one, and set a precedent, not only for South Florida, but for other areas as well.
Meanwhile, a special project design was submitted to the Florida State Board of Public Welfare for a Family Day Care Program to place small children, between the ages of 6 weeks and 3 years, children of working mothers – in individual homes from 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. under the care of the home mother. The welfare Board accepted this project, financing the program on an experimental basis for a period of a one-year, to end March 31, 1967. By that date, 30 children had been placed in 8 homes.
This project was renewed – on a research basis – for one more year. As a successful program, it was the basis for publishing a manual made available for other organizations contemplating this type of day care. Local support had to be found at the end of the research period.
While frantically seeking other sources of support an extension was negotiated to the end of Spring of 1971, at which time support for an expanded program was obtained through the Dade Community Coordinated Child Care (4c) Title IV Program.
The Family Day Care Program was then funded for a total of 50 children of working mothers in 10 licensed homes. It recognized a need for placement of many more children within the Coconut Grove Community.
Of the 100 children that were enrolled in the regular center based Day Care Program, 70 received support from the United Way of Dade County, while 30 were financed by the successor to EOPI, the Dade County Community Action Agency Head Start Program. There was an official waiting list approaching 200 and an estimated need for care for more than a thousand in the immediate area.
By 1975 St. Alban's was funded for 280 children in the two programs. 150 of those children were funded by Metropolitan Dade County Child Development program (the successor of 4C's), 45 were funded by the United Way of Dade County, 40 by the Community Action Agency Head Start Program and 45 by the City of Miami Revenue Sharing Program. Food was provided by the State of Florida Food and Nutrition Management.
By the end of 1975 all of the recommendations set forth by the Welfare Planning Council Study Committee had been implemented. St. Alban's was one of the few multi-funded Day Care Centers in Dade County.
In 1976, with the aid of the City of Miami, a beautiful new classroom was added to the present facility. The license capacity was increased to 290 children. Although ten applicants were taken from the waiting list there were many who could not be placed because of lack of space.
During the winter of 1977 the United Way of Dade County assisted St. Alban's in obtaining an additional classroom. Ten more children were taken from the waiting list as a result of this effort.
By the spring of 1978 St. Alban's had a total enrollment of 300 children. There were still many applicants who were waiting for placement.
By the end of 1979 a full time Curriculum Coordinator had been employed and a Curriculum Guide had been developed.
February 1,1983 St. Alban's acquired the second center for 74 additional children. This center is located at 6060 S.W. 66th Street South Miami, Florida.
CURRENT ORGANIZATIONAL STATUS:
St. Alban's is directed by a policy making Board of Directors and Policy Committee representative of the children and families served by the program.
The 56 member staff possesses the relevant credentials in their respective fields and is representative of the children and families served by the program.
An Afterschool Program was established in 1997, in response to a community survey to meet the need for working parents and those enrolled in educational and training programs. This program serves 60 children from ages 6 weeks to 12 years of age, from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. and from 2:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. daily. This program provides tutoring and special services for enrollees.
During the past 3 years the Coconut Grove, Infant /Toddler and South Miami facilities have been completely renovated from roof to floor, air-conditioned in all offices and classrooms. These renovations allowed children to learn through language, educational, and interactive activities.
The parking areas at Coconut Grove and South Miami have been repaved and flood drains installed. St. Alban's purchased a new 16 passengers van.
St. Alban's funding partners include CAA Head Start, United Way of Miami-Dade, Miami Dade Human Services, Florida Department of Health (U.S.D.A.) several foundations including the Kennedy Foundation, Health Foundation of South Florida, Peacock Foundations, Dade Community Foundation, Carnival Cruise Foundation, Katcher Family Foundation, donations, grants and program fees. .
Staff development and parent training activities have been emphasized and intensified during the past two years in order to promote appropriate childcare practices necessary to prepare children to be ready, willing and eager to learn when they leave St. Alban's.
St. Alban's is a quality childcare program. Strategically located serving a unique population that will have a positive impact not only on the children, but also on the families and the surrounding community.