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The History of Christina Kent Early Childhood Center

With the help of a local historian, we are researching archival documents that reveal more about the Center’s history. Watch this section and our blog pages for more information as our research continues.

In 1919, the Albuquerque Nursery (now Christina Kent Early Childhood Center) was founded, incorporated and operated by the Women’s Club of Albuquerque to provide day care for the children of low income working mothers. The Nursery was housed in a six room house at 322 South Seventh Street. Initially, between 30-35 children, ages infant to six years, were cared for six days a week. The Nursery opened at 7:30 AM and closed at 6:00 PM. A matron was employed and placed in charge of the Nursery. Several other women, including a cook, were employed to assist with the care of the children.

By 1921, the Nursery was caring for as many as 156 children per month, though not all at the same time. Then, as now, working parents’ need for childcare was great.

Some of the Women’s Club members who were active in the founding of the Nursery were Mrs. Harold “Lessie” Galles, and Christina Kent. 

The Board minutes of September 30, 1930 show that the name of the Nursery was officially changed and recorded with the State of New Mexico as the Christina Kent Day Nursery (CKDN). Mrs. Margaret Medler, a member of the Nursery’s Board, provided significant financial support for the operation the Nursery. Mrs. Medler requested that the Nursery be named in honor of her mother, Christina Kent. The Board gave unanimous approval.

1934 — The Christina Kent Day Nursery was one of the first nonprofit organizations to become a member of the newly created Community Chest.  At that point, financial support for operational costs shifted from the Albuquerque Women’s Club to the Nursery’s Board seeking operational funds from the Community Chest.  The Board continued to conduct fundraising activities to supplement the Community Chest appropriation.

1936 — An excerpt from a report from the Nursery Board to the Albuquerque Community Chest stated: “From Nov. 15 to June 15, 1936, the nursery has cared for 6,206 children from seven A.M. until six P.M.  Clean beds are provided for daily naps.  Cod liver oil and plenty of milk are included in each child’s diet.”

modern day ckecc christina kent albuquerque nm

1939 — Growing changes in licensure (child/staff ratios, classroom size, etc.) and limited operational resources forced the CKDN Board to discontinue the infant program and serve children from two years to six years. The increasing number of children in need of the Nursery’s program focused the Board’s attention to the need for a larger space.

1942 (January) — The Board purchased a duplex home located at 323 Third Street SW, our current location. The move to this site was made in September 1942 upon completion of renovations. Purchase of this property was made possible by a 1942 bequest from the estate of Margaret Medler, the daughter of Christina Kent.

1975 (April) — The Albuquerque city fire marshal ordered CKDN to close because of non compliance with the fire codes. CKDN appeared before the City Review Board regarding the Nursery’s non compliance with the fire ruling that “the second floor could not be used for children.” (32 kindergarten children were housed on the second floor.) CKDN requested a six month extension to meet compliance.  The closing was deferred to give CKDN time to rearrange the first floor to accommodate the kindergarten children. This change also necessitated a reduction in the overall number of children enrolled.

1978-1988 — CKDN continued to operate and fulfill its mission while all possible solutions to the building dilemma were pursued. In 1987, the Board reached a decision that the most viable solution to the building problems was to make major renovations to the first floor of the existing building

1988 — The CKDN Board received a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) of $100,000 for building renovation; however the estimated cost of renovation was $250,000. A successful major community fundraising effort filled the gap between CDBG funds and the full renovation cost. The renovation called for first floor redesign for areas to be used on a daily basis, a new wing on the north side of the building for additional classroom and office space, and a redesign of the playground creating two separate play areas. The second floor was not included in the redesign and would continue to be used only for storage.

1989 (September) — The 70th anniversary celebration was held on September 29th in the renovated building. Phase I of the renovation was officially completed on December 22nd.

1990 — Phase II of the renovation was in progress, made possible by an additional Community Development Block Grant from the City of Albuquerque and generous donors. This provided for a handicapped entrance, upgrade in electrical service, and new signs on the front and south side of the building. An additional grant from the city enabled Phase III, the construction of a new boundary wall on the south and west sides of the building.

1997 (March) — The Nursery celebrated its 75th birthday with an open house on March 7th.

1999 — On November 21st, the Nursery celebrated its 80th birthday with an open house

modern day ckecc christina kent albuquerque nm

2000 through 2003 — The Nursery continued to flourish and stay true to its mission in the midst of staffing problems and further changes in regulations governing day care programs. The Board began revisiting the issues of the buildings inadequacies and high cost of maintenance.

Extensive maintenance was needed to bring the classrooms, kitchen, heating system and offices up to standards required for accreditation by the Children, Youth and Family Department (CYFD). Without this maintenance, CYFD would close the Nursery. In addition to revising the operating budget, authorizing the expenditure of funds to hire the necessary plumbers, electricians, etc., Board members called upon all available volunteer resources to help with the repairs. It was a difficult and unstable time for the Board and staff, but the Nursery was kept open. Upon completion of all the maintenance projects and meeting the required building safety codes, CYFD renewed the Nursery’s full 5 Star accreditation.

2006 — A proposal to remodel and renovate the CKDN outdoor play areas, submitted to the Rosie O’Donnell Foundation was granted. The project was a huge success.

2007-2008 — Many grants are awarded, enabling the curriculum to be greatly enriched. Literacy continues to be a major focus of the program. The children are exposed to computer technology as an integral component of the curriculum. Parent involvement and participation in program plays a significant role in the collaborative effort for program development and implementation.

2008 (March) — The enriched program and new educational standards focused on early education led the Board to change the name of the Nursery to more accurately reflect the program. The new name is Christina Kent Early Childhood Center (CKECC).

2009 — Another landmark year as the CKECC celebrates its 90th birthday with an October 28 Open House.

2010 — Began studying world renowned educational centers in Reggio Emilia, Italy and have continued putting this philosophy into practice.

2003 to 2013 — Annual Christina Kent Tennis Tournaments become a signature fundraising event for the Center.