Jack & Jill Center was established in 1942 by the Junior League of Greater Fort Lauderdale as an emergency nursery school, providing childcare during World War II to women entering the workforce for the first time as their husbands were called overseas.
Today, 80 years later, Jack & Jill Center is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) community-based organization that provides comprehensive, holistic, wraparound support services to children of high-need parents who work or attend school in order to improve their wellbeing and quality of life. Jack & Jill Center is the oldest nonprofit provider of early childhood education in Broward County, and at our core, our critical work has remained the same since our inception: we continue to serve families—primarily women-led households, educate children, and both support and advocate for families and our community.
Between 1942 and 2003, Jack & Jill Center was named “Jack & Jill Nursery”, and we were located in a small school house in the historic Sailboat Bend neighborhood in Fort Lauderdale. At the time, our program served 40 children and their families. As the need for early childhood education in South Florida expanded, so did our program. By 2003, our program met its maximum capacity, serving 90 children and their families. Jack & Jill Nursery changed its name to “Jack & Jill Children’s Center” and relocated to our current 17,000 square foot facility located on West Broward Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale. The building has allowed us to increase the maximum capacity of children we are able to serve to 140 children. We also expanded our programming to serve infants through Preschool/ VPK (4), we added a food & clothing pantry called the J&J Boutique, and a Family Resource Room with a computer lab.
In October 2017, after careful financial and operational planning, along with parent and community feedback, Jack & Jill Center’s board of directors approved a plan to construct and operate a modern elementary school on its existing campus. The groundbreaking took place in August 2019. In August 2021, our elementary school program, Madelaine Halmos Academy (MHA), transitioned its operations into our brand-new, state-of-the-art building and expanded to serve kindergarten through fifth grade. All MHA students are college-bound! Thanks to the immense generosity of The Halmos Family, each MHA who continues his or her education to graduate from high school will receive a two-year college scholarship from the Jack & Jill Center Opportunity Scholarship Fund.
With the addition of the Madelaine Halmos Academy, Jack & Jill Center’s elementary education program, the continuation of the Early Education Program and Family Program, and the installation of the Health Program, our name, Jack & Jill Children’s Center was amended to Jack & Jill Center. The adjustment reflects that we serve more than children, we also serve their families and our community.
As the needs of our community have evolved, so have we. Today we are a school for children of high-need working families; our service model has expanded to address long-term and systemic inequality by supporting families as they overcome barriers to build a better life for themselves and their children. This expanded purpose is a response to changes in our community’s needs: hundreds of hard-working families are on our waiting list of subsidized childcare because of entrenched poverty and a lack of high-quality, affordable education options in our immediate area. We strive to achieve our mission by focusing on both the child and the family unit as a whole, offering family strengthening programs so that the entire household, children and parents alike, have the tools they need to succeed.
With support from the Family Program, our families increase their financial stability, maintain employment, achieve job advancement, decrease their risk for incidences of abuse and neglect, and foster their child’s healthy growth and development. As a result, parents gain confidence, children perform and behave better at home and in the classroom, and families function at higher levels of stability. Since our founding, Jack & Jill Center has served more than 20,000 children and families in our community through the following programs:
Provides elementary education for K – 5th Grade and Out of School/ Summer Camp, ages 6 – 12.
Engages and supports families enrolled at Jack & Jill Center and in the community.
Supports and educates children, families, team members and the community.
Our Next Chapter
So much has changed at Jack & Jill Center since 1942, yet we remain steadfast in our mission to strengthen children and families through innovative education, supportive programming, and community engagement—and we are proud to serve not only children, but their parents, guardians, families, and individuals in our community.