West End Parents’ Daycare has a long history as a childcare centre in Toronto’s downtown west end community. We began as a grass roots operation in 1971 when a group of mothers at the West End YMCA, led by Natalina Furfaro, applied for a grant to start a summer day camp program. In the third year, when the funding was in jeopardy, the mothers who worked in the program plus 22 kids took a bus to Ottawa and set up a daycare in the lobby of Parliament. They got the funding!
In 1975 the centre was officially incorporated (though still operated out of the YMCA). Needing more space, they moved into Ossington/Old Orchard Junior Public School in 1981, and then when the daycare continued to grow, it moved across the park to our present location at 375 Dovercourt Road, which was at that time an annex to the Old Orchard School. We are now separate from the school, although the building itself is leased from the Toronto District School Board.
What made WEPD special from its start was the idealistic and committed staff who worked co-operatively to create a warm and stimulating environment for the children.
In the early days, WEPD was known as the “hippy daycare”. Many of the staff had children at the daycare, some of whom later worked there, including Natalina’s daughter Anna who grew up to become a daycare teacher at WEPD for several years and now teaches at Ossington/Old Orchard Junior Public School.
In 1985, new by-laws were adopted and the position of director was created. Parents also took on more responsibility. The staff has been unionized since the early 80’s and has, together with the parent/staff board and the director, remained a vital part of running of the daycare. Four of our present staff date back to the early years of WEPD. This ongoing staff loyalty and commitment to the daycare is a unique characteristic of WEPD.