CDSC’s origins lie in community-embedded, grassroots organizing. In 1969, six single mothers from Central Brooklyn communities organized a parent support group to provide safe, affordable and quality childcare services for each other and the broader community. The parent support group was founded on the philosophy that parents should take primary responsibility for the education of their children and that self-help, mutual support, and collective responsibility were important values to embrace and pass on to their children. The parent support group, led by Freddie Hamilton and Barbara Hannaham, became the Herman Hannaham Day Nursery. The Nursery was named in memory of Ms. Hannaham’s husband who was a tireless community advocate for a fuller and more meaningful education for African-American children.
During the late sixties and early seventies, opportunities for women and minorities were expanding. Many women with children were seeking to improve their economic conditions by returning to school or joining the workforce. For them to do so, they needed safe and developmentally appropriate childcare for their children. The Nursery was just the place; it provided positive early learning experiences for pre-school children while providing full-day childcare services for working families.
Individuals and organizations in the community enthusiastically accepted and supported the Nursery by donating their time, technical assistance, financial resources, and talent. In a show of support, Grail Corp., a Catholic women’s organization, donated the building in which the Nursery was first housed. The Nursery also received major contributions from The First Unitarian Church of Brooklyn Heights, Chemical Bank, and community residents.
CDSC is Created
In 1975, with the help of its supporters, the Nursery incorporated itself as the Child Development Support Corporation (CDSC) under the leadership of Freddie Hamilton who later became the founding Executive Director of the organization.
During the late seventies and early eighties, the organization began to see and feel the ravages of the drug epidemic in the lives of the families served. In response to these trends, CDSC sponsored Mind Power Family Services, a preventive services program to help families remain intact as they addressed issues of drug abuse.
Over the next two decades, CDSC continued to expand its services in direct response to other identified needs in the community and began to sponsor the following programs: Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention, Youth Programs, Head Start Program, Family Child Care Network, Child Care Resource and Referral, Foster Care and Adoption Programs, and an Emergency Food Pantry. This expansion resulted in the organization’s need of a permanent home with more space to operate. In 1995, CDSC purchased, renovated, and moved the organization into its present location at 352-358 Classon Avenue, Brooklyn, New York.