HISTORY OF THE UNION CHILD DAY CARE CENTER Renamed LOIS BRONZ CHILDREN'S CENTER
The need for organized childcare in Greenburgh, NY was clearly demonstrated when the 1960 census indicated that 55 percent of the women living in the Fairview community were employed, and were forced to make whatever arrangements they could for their young children. In one instance, June Castleberry, a resident in the community and a member of Union Baptist Church was providing child care services for seventeen children ranging from infants to nine-year olds in her home. They would become the first children to be enrolled when Union Child Day Care Center (UCDCC) opened its doors in 1966. Reverend Charles H. Churn, then Pastor of the Union Baptist Church on Manhattan Avenue, and an early advocate for day care, offered the basement of his church as a site for the day care program and Ms. Castleberry became the first staff member.
All of this was made possible by an active community committee led by Mrs. Marion Goodman, former Chairperson of the Office of Economic Opportunity Task Force on Day Care, in cooperation with Phyllis Shearer, former Director of the Westchester Community Opportunity Program, and with the support of “seeding funds” from a private family foundation.
In its second year of operation, UCDCC became part of the Westchester Community Opportunity Program, and received Federal Head Start funds to meet a major part of its costs. In 1968, Union was incorporated under regulations of the New York State Department of Social Welfare. Since day care centers serving infants could not be licensed, Temporary Incorporation was granted while UCDCC participated in a pilot program to determine the effects of group day care for infants. The positive results enabled UCDCC to become the first center licensed for infant care in New York State.
By 1969, the Union Child Day Care Center had outgrown its church quarters. The available space was inadequate to house the growing numbers of children needing care. This began a discussion of plans for a new facility. The center was able to secure a loan under the New York State Youth Facility Act to build a new center. In 1972 we welcomed the first child into our new home, at our current location.
For many years the center struggled to pay back it's loan, so the Board of Directors, led by Barbara Holland and the Executive Director, Rita Hulkower were approached by the Greenburgh Town Supervisor, Anthony Veteran and Lois Bronz, then a member of the Town Board to negotiate with the state of New York to have the Town purchase our building for one dollar. This agreement (finalized in 1987), states that UCDCC can operate a child care center in this building for 99 years.
In the year 2000, the Board of Directors developed a comprehensive Strategic Plan for emphasizing our educational focus, strengthening the curriculum, expanding parenting support services, and bolstering the Center’s administrative infrastructure and fundraising efforts. The plan also included a name change, and in 2006, UCDCC was renamed in honor of County Legislator, Lois Bronz. From its inception, the center attracted and was enormously enriched by the efforts and dedication of a great many volunteers. We chose Lois Bronz for her many years on the Board of UCDCC; for founding and chairing the Phone-a-thon, our major fund raiser for 25 years; and for always being a strong advocate for all children. Over the years, despite the development of her political career and stature in the community, she has never forgotten our center which proudly bares the name The Lois Bronz Children's Center.