Who We Are

Catherine Morrill Day NurseryMission Statement

The mission of Catherine Morrill Day Nursery is to promote the young child’s total development within a safe and nurturing environment, and to support families and community.


From the beginning the nursery has been devoted to quality care for young children. In September 1916, a group of public spirited women, led by Hilda Ives, instituted a nutrition campaign in Portland. Their goal was better healthcare for babies. This group opened a Milk Station in City Hall on May 7, 1917 under the direction of Katherine L. Quinn, Portland’s first trained public health nurse. During the year 1919, the women recognized a need for a service that would provide custodial care for children in the community. They met this need by establishing a day nursery at the Waynflete School Building at 339 Danforth Street. The day nursery was incorporated under the name of Portland Baby Hygiene and Child Welfare Association. In March 1920 Catherine Morrill Day Nursery was named in memory of Catherine Morrill, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George Burnham Morrill. Before her death, Miss Morrill had been a devoted, loyal and beloved volunteer at the Nursery. In 1922, Mrs. Franklin Payson and her son, Donald Payson, purchased the house at 96 Danforth Street and the adjoining lot and donated in to the Nursery in memory of Mrs. Payson’s sister, Mrs. Margaret Ella Chamberlain.

As the years have passed, the Nursery has worked diligently to meet the challenges of the times, in keeping with the original mission “to provide quality care for Portland’s Children.”

Today, the Nursery is still housed at 96 Danforth Street, rich in history and expectant of what the future may bring. The Nursery has grown from a custodial care service to a nationally accredited program that promotes young children’s cognitive, physical, social and emotional development.

Catherine Morrill Day Nursery is a quality early childhood education and care program, having achieved accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) since 1996.  CMDN is recognized by the Department of Health and Human Services as a Step 4 “Program of Quality”, the highest level on Maine’s “Quality for ME” quality rating and improvement system.   Parents receive a double state tax credit for their child care expenses because the CMDN has achieved this level of meeting best practice standards.

Public pre-kindergarten collaboration

Since 2010, CMDN has collaborated with Portland Public Schools for a public pre-kindergarten classroom located at Portland Arts and Technology High School (PATHS) through their Early Childhood Occupations program.  As part of this arrangement, the certified public pre-k teacher is an employee of CMDN.  This program serves 14 four-year olds who are enrolled through Portland Public Schools.  Four slots are reserved for three-year olds who purchase these spots on a Tuesday-Thursday or Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule.  Families of the three year-olds pay tuition to CMDN.  This program follows the PPS academic schedule.

We are conveniently located at 96 Danforth Street, near downtown Portland and the Old Port areas. Our hours are 7:00 am to 5:30 pm, Monday through Friday for preschoolers, and 7:30 am to 5:15 pm for infants and toddlers. We serve two nutritious meals and an afternoon snack each day, and are an active participant in the “Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0” program that promotes healthy eating and reduces childhood obesity. Catherine Morrill offers a private rate, sliding fee scale, as well as subsidized rates for families who qualify.

CMDN7Program Philosophy

At CMDN, we believe that all children are entitled to an accessible, affordable, high quality care and early education program that is child-centered and based on their interests.  The Nursery is dedicated to the child’s social and emotional well-being as the foundation for healthy development.  We encourage children to be active and creative learners and to develop skills at their own pace in ways that are best for them.  The Nursery embraces the uniqueness of each child and strives to work together with the family to enhance the total development of the child within the context of their community.

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