PARENT AND FAMILY SUPPORT
Very early in its existence, the founders of the Mothers’ Aid Society recognized that childcare alone was insufficient for the well-being of children and their families. So the organization incorporated into its mission the support of working families.
In 1883, the Society opened a laundry service to provide jobs for unemployed mothers. It is interesting to note that in 1885, the laundry brought in $10.12; however, the same financial report shows that the nursery made an advance to the laundry of $21.04!
Shortly after that, it established an “Intelligence Office” to locate employment opportunities in private homes. By 1885, the society could report that finding employment for mothers was “ a distinct feature of our work.” It also offered women advice or “Hints to the Employed” about how to behave on the job and how to conduct relations with employers.
In the early 1900’s, aware that mothers needed rest and children needed the opportunity to play outdoors, Leila Day sent groups of children and their mothers at no charge to the Rebecca Stoddard House for two-week sessions at the shore.
In 1916, the nursery established a Social Service Committee that extended the support system for families, endeavoring to become a resource for families’ health and other needs. In the 1930s, in the tradition of the laundry operation, Leila Day established an evening woodworking shop in the cellar of the nursery for fathers left unemployed by the Great Depression.
And the hardships of working families were evident at Leila Day: in 1938, a board report noted that the number of its families on “straight relief” had risen from 17% to 58%. Leila Day’s mission of serving working families had strengthened since its founding, and in the following period, that mission took on a wider meaning on the national scene.