Egenolf Early Childhood Center began as Elizabeth Day Nursery on December 4, 1890 serving a wide range of ages of children, providing 24 hour care. The popularity of the service blossomed to the extent that it outgrew its location on Spring Street and moved into the house donated by Lena and Peter Egenolf on Elizabeth Avenue. The name was changed to the Egenolf Day Nursery in honor of the family. In 1900, the Nursery became incorporated and secured a reputation for outstanding service for early care and education. In 1973, the program relocated to the former National Cash Register building on Newark Avenue, where it resides today. The name was once again changed to better reflect its work: Egenolf Early Childhood Center.
Recognizing its long term commitment to excellence, the center began its work toward earning national accreditation through the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the gold standard for high quality early education. In 1994, the program was awarded the distinction of NAEYC Accreditation; an honor it still holds today.
In 1998, the landmark Abbott v. Burke court case changed the landscape of preschool in NJ. Thirty districts, including Elizabeth, were designated a “high needs” districts indicating that it must provide free, state funded preschool to resident families with children ages three and four, who wanted their children to participate. One of the requirements of the district was to reach out to community programs, like the one at Egenolf ECC, to invite them to become contractors. Given the long history, and substantiated quality of Egenolf ECC, it was obvious it would join in the delivery of state funded preschool.
The ride was just about to begin…….