Press Release of Close to Home: The Day Nursery

Day Nursery

As we start the New Year we are pleased to announce that a documentary film has been made of The Day Nursery. Filmmaker Molly Arenberg spent a considerable amount of time in creating this documentary by visiting with staff, parents and children. We know you will be as overwhelemed as we are at the resulting film of our 105 year old institution.

Please join us at the premiere of the film which is being hosted by The Nineteenth Century Club in Oak Park on Thursday, January 18, 2017 at 7:00 p.m.

To see a preview of the film click here

To sign up to join us at this event click here

Film Premiere Press Release

You can also call Executive Director, Cari Christoff at 708.383.8211


The Ounce State of Illinois Budget Update


We continue to be concerned about the lack of a State of Illinois Budget, which impacts early childhood education and families of these children. We are still working with less money due to this impasse.  The following is re-printed in part from The Ounce Early Edition Winter 2017.

State Update

Illinois has gone 19 months without a state budget, as efforts stalled in the state senate on a bipartisan proposal to end the stalemate.
In the midst of this ongoing uncertainty, on February 15, Governor Rauner outlined his budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year.

His FY2018 budget proposal included:
·         $50 million increase to the Early Childhood Block Grant
·         $151.3 million increase to the Child Care Assistance Program to restore eligibility to families earning up to 185% of the Federal Poverty Level and to families participating in non-TANF education and training activities
·         Maintain home visiting services at $16.9 million
·         $4 million increase to funding for Early Intervention
·         $38 million increase to funding for educational supports for English learners to fully fund those payments to school districts
Despite these proposed increases, we know that for Illinois to truly support its most vulnerable children and families, the state must commit to a path toward sustaining its investments. That path includes raising enough revenue for the state to pay its bills and meaningfully make these investments.

Every day that passes costs Illinois money, makes the problem more difficult to solve and further harms programs that help young children and their families thrive. Home visiting programs continue to scale back and close down. Child care providers still cannot enroll many families left out because of the restricted eligibility, and Early Intervention providers wait months to receive payment for the services they’ve provided to babies and toddlers. Governor Rauner and the Illinois General Assembly must work together to put forth a budget that supports revenue to adequately fund critically important early childhood investments.

In the coming weeks, legislative committees will meet to review the governor’s proposal and hear from advocates. The Ounce of Prevention Fund and our partners will continue to advocate for a full-year, fully-funded budget and remind lawmakers of the mounting cost of inaction.

It is up to all of us to be advocates for our children.


There is no Fadeout

Genl Assembly article 1

The belief in “fadeout” (i.e., that benefits of early childhood education fade out as a child progresses through school), is a factor that can make obtaining financial support for early childhood education a challenge. Recently released research from Nobel Laureate James Heckman proves that “fadeout” does not occur. In fact, quality early childhood education – like that available at The Day Nursery – improves IQ and socio-emotional skills that provide profound benefits through adulthood. Read James Heckman’s rebuttal to claims of “fadeout” in the Washington Post.

Part of the article states: “In our recent work, we carefully study the effectiveness of a wide range of early childhood programs that received government funding, including Head Start. We find that all provide benefits and lasting effects to children who would have experienced lower quality care or have otherwise not received quality early childhood education.”

We continue to provide a curriculum in early childhood education that prepares each child for their future in learning.

Thank you for your continued support of The Day Nursery.



Wine Event Big Success


A special thank you to our friends and family who came out to support The Day Nursery at our 2017 Wine Event Thursday night at Trattoria 225 in Oak Park.
It was  heartening to have our fundraiser well-supported during the budget crisis in the State of Illinois.  After a 2-year budget impasse we are sorely missing the $80,000.00 plus due to us to help provide services for the families and children of The Day Nursery. Every sip and nibble our guests took at Trattoria 225 helps keep our program going strong.
Nancy Clark was given the Rocking Horse Award for 2017 for her more than 25 years of helping the children of The Day Nursery in a myriad of ways.  She is a former board member and current financial committee member.
It is these volunteer efforts that make a difference in running The Day Nursery and we can not thank Nancy enough for her work and dedication.
We plan other events soon which both support and celebrate the efforts of our community and raise much needed funds.


The A. Montgomery Ward Foundation Donates $10,000 to The Day Nursery


Our ongoing funding efforts to help the children and families of The Day Nursery have resulted in a generous gift from the A. Montgomery Ward Foundation. The Day Nursery is very grateful to the Foundation for this gift that will allow us to upgrade the furniture in the classrooms, thereby enhancing the learning environment.

The $10,000 gift allows The Day Nursery to replace all of the tables used by the children throughout The Day Nursery, and all the chairs in one of the classrooms.  Cheap plastic is now being replaced by long-lasting and durable wood table and chairs.  All the new furniture will also be appropriately-sized for the children.

The Day Nursery is now seeking an additional $5,000.00, which will be used to replace the remaining chairs in all of the other classrooms.

It is community-minded foundations, companies, and people like you that sustain our 105-year institution!

The Day Nursery is grateful to all our donors. Your generous donations help us off-set the supplies, teaching, and infrastructure expenses that make The Day Nursery a gold-standard in early childhood care and education.

More about the Foundation: The A. Montgomery Ward Foundation was established by his daughter, Marjorie Montgomery Ward Baker, in 1959 to support and strengthen charitable institutions that provide quality educational and cultural programming for the current and future residents of Chicago, Illinois, and its surrounding communities.

They need to hear from you


You have been there to support us, every step of the way.

Today, we need your help to be the voice for our young learners.

The state’s budget impasse is affecting us…all of us.

Without an adequate fully funded state budget, essential services are being impacted statewide, most of the programs and services involving our most vulnerable populations.

Closer to home…
The Day Nursery currently provides an Illinois State Board of Education Preschool for All program for 40 children who have been identified as at risk for school success through the Early Childhood Block Grant. This specific program has not received any of its allocated funds for the current fiscal year, amounting to almost $70,000.

Join The Day Nursery and The Ounce of Prevention in sending a very strong and clear message to those who have been chosen to represent all of us in IL.

Please use this link provided by The Ounce of Prevention to deliver a personal message to your legislators and Governor Rauner. (Please put your home address and zip code to locate your local representative)


The time has come to pass a reasonable and responsible budget.

For our children, for our families.

Their future depends on it.

Thank you

Investing in The Day Nursery


An old picture of The Day Nursery.  It speaks to the fact that we are 103 years old and still serving our communities of Oak Park, River Forest and even beyond.  Each year we have a set number of children we can accept into our program.  As you know our program covers the spectrum of family income and therefore can offer a sliding scale for the monthly fee.

This year The Day Nursery must raise $58,000.00 for financial support given to our enrolled families. Your contribution provides access to early detection and early interventions that ultimately unlock possibilities for all our young children.

In fact, “How Investing In Preschool Beats The Stock Market, Hands Down” is an article by NPR Ed about early childhood education.  This is the link to that article which we ask that you read and share. One of the beginning paragraphs read: “What if the investment is in children, and the return on investment not only makes economic sense but results in richer, fuller, healthier lives for the entire family?”

We recently shared a blog post about Why I Give by Susan Murphy. It is people like Susan and you that does make a difference in why we do what we do.

In our year end letter November 8th, 2016 we asked our supporters for their help in reaching our goal.  We hope you are one of them and donate now.

It is wonderful to have your support!

Cari Kristoff
Executive Director

Why I Give by Susan Murphy



“I have been involved with the Oak Park & River Forest Day Nursery for over 25 years – as a Board Member, President of the Board, and Liason to the Advisory Council. I am currently serving another term as a Board Member. Why? Because I strongly believe that all children have potential, and the sooner they are encouraged and engaged in their learning, the more likely they are to achieve that potential.

Years ago I was actively involved in the second largest school district in Illinois (Elgin). Someone told me, “You can’t save them (students) all.” To which I responded, “I am not trying to save them all — I am trying to get them what they need to save themselves.”

The Day Nursery gives children the tools they need to succeed. And with that thought in mind I have included the Day Nursery in my estate plan as a charitable gift at the end of my life. In this way I can continue to give to the Day Nursery so that they may continue to prepare children for their lives.

Supporting the Day Nursery does make a difference.”

Susan is very modest. She is truly a champion of the Day Nursery children and families, and uses every opportunity she can to share of herself. Her generosity extends beyond what you might expect, to all areas of the organization. For example, every season, Susan makes sure the lobby is filled with colorful, child-centered festive decorations, adorned with each child’s name. But, more than a child’s name on a snowflake, Susan has created opportunities for learning and discovery. Imagine being able to recognize how your name looks in print or recognizing how your friends name starts with the same letter as yours. It’s those tiny details that mean so much for the children. “Ms. Susan” has achieved rock-star status with the 2-5 year old Day Nursery crowd…

Susan, thank you for all you do to unlock their potential!

Top 10 Reasons for Quality Early Childhood Education at The Day Nursery


Early childhood is an amazing, fascinating, almost magical time. Every new experience, every new word, every new observance is soaked up like a sponge.

Which is why quality early childhood programs, exactly like those found at The Day Nursery, are so essential for the good of the child, the family, the community, and the greater society.

In this blog I’m going to list what I see as the top ten reasons for early childhood education. They are not listed in order of importance as they all contribute to a well-rounded child – and eventually adult. In blogs over the next few months, I will address each of these reasons and why they are so important and how The Day Nursery works to excel in each.

So, here we go! Top 10 reasons for early childhood education at The Day Nursery.

10. Diversity

9. Parental Support/Community

8. Socialization

7. Assessment and early intervention

6. Confidence and self-esteem

5. Teamwork and cooperation

4. Verbal Literacy

3. Number Literacy

2. Understanding the value of education through experience

1. Gaining a life-long enthusiasm and joy for learning and discovery

The High Scope Perry Preschool Study was a long-range (40 year) study of the effects of preschool on children. There are many statistics touting the benefits as a result of this study, but one that many people have not heard is the effect on IQ. This study indicated 67% of the children who participated in the study’s preschool program had attained an IQ of 99 or better by age 5. In contrast, only 28% of those children in the study who did not participate in the study’s preschool program tested with an IQ of 99 or above.

Just think about the lifelong implications in that! – and the impact on society.

Study after study indicates the value of quality early childhood education for all children but especially for those who come from low-income families whose limited resources do not allow them to expose their children to the same experiences as those from more affluent families.

The Day Nursery has always welcomed families from all socio-economic backgrounds. Government funding has declined significantly despite the overwhelming evidence of the value of quality early childhood education.

Please consider making a gift today so that The Day Nursery can continue to unlock the potential for every child who comes through our doors. A gift of any size will have an impact! Just go to our website and click on donation.

Thank you,

Cari Christoff, Executive Director

A Special Thank You on Thanksgiving

Today, we gather to give thanks for family, friends, those important around us, and… Especially you.

We are reminded of how a community can come together to make a difference in the lives of our children.  Here is a reminder of how this happens when people care as they did to build a playground in a day.

Thank you for your continued support

From our table to yours,

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Staff, Board of Directors, Volunteers, Children and Families of The Day Nursery