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  • SouthSide Early Childhood Center SouthSide Early Childhood Center


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Mission Statement

Nurturing. Educating. Inspiring. Since 1886.

SouthSide’s mission is to nurture, educate and inspire children and families in a diverse and inclusive environment, promoting healthy development and a strong foundation for success. Our vision is that children develop a lifelong love of learning, flourish within a supportive family environment and contribute positively to their communities.


In 1886, in the parlor of Mrs. G.F. Durant’s home at 2329 Whittemore Place, fifteen courageous and determined Unitarian women took a stand for the most impoverished children in their city. No longer would mothers tote babies to work, or leave them in the care of their barely older siblings. These women founded, in the quaint language of their time, a "day nursery" whose mission was "to prevent pauperism by assisting bread winners with young children on their hands, to earn an honest living." In their first year, they cared for hundreds of children whose parents worked in factories, cleaned homes, did laundry and cared for other people’s children. From the beginning, South Side Day Nursery, as it was known then, welcomed children of every race, ethnicity, and income level.

SouthSide’s founders knew their work benefited the families they served and had economic impact that benefited the entire community. In the second Annual Report, the President, Mrs. C. M. Woodward, wrote, "Every dollar spent at the Nursery means from one to three dollars earned by the mother while her little one is in our care. But that is not all. Every mother receives her child at night happy, clean and in excellent physical condition."

Remarkably, SouthSide’s work continued in its original building at 10th and Julia Streets for more than 60 years, when the organization moved to the current facility at 2930 Iowa Avenue. SouthSide continued to be a leader in early childhood education that addressed social-emotional and cognitive development in a holistic and nurturing setting, along with resources and support for parents and caregivers.

Highlights of our history include:

1886 Founding of South Side Day Nursery

1888 Incorporated as a non-profit, non-sectarian agency 1890 Purchased house at 10th and Julia

1942 Joined United Charities - predecessor of the United Fund and United Way

1953 New facility opened at 2930 Iowa Avenue 1956 Joined United Fund (became United Way)

1967 Classroom and meeting room addition to building

1967 Partnership with Washington University trained teachers for Head Start

1969-1976 Operated Cochran Branch early childhood center, known as North Side Day Nursery

1979-1981 Two classrooms added to building

1999 Infant-toddler room opened

2011 Marked 125th Anniversary. Purchased site for new facility at Russell and Jefferson; began capital campaign.

SouthSide continues the vision of its founders. Thousands of children have passed through our doors, lovingly cared for, educated and launched toward success.


2001 What’s Right with the Region: Creating Quality Educational Opportunities

2002 Lifetime Board Member Carolyn Cotta was honored as the Commerce Bank Volunteer of the Year

2008-2012 Deaconess Foundation Impact Partner

2010 Variety Club Stellar Performer in Early Childhood Education



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