Yolo Crisis Nursery: 20 years and over 7,500 children served
A 15-year-old foster child named Artie asked his social worker a seemingly simple question: “Why didn’t anyone help my mom when I was little?” If someone had, maybe I could still be with her. Artie entered the foster care system in Yolo County when he was only 4 years old. Artie’s question resonated loudly in the hearts and souls of our community, and Yolo Crisis Nursery opened in 2001.
Since opening in 2001, Yolo Crisis has helped over 7,500 children and their families with early intervention programs to help break the cycle of abuse and poverty. The Yolo Crisis Crèche offers respite services to children and families who are going through difficult times and need support. Equally important, the nursery provides comprehensive services to help families resolve their crises and come out stronger together.
The nursery is an essential resource for Yolo County. It is a place of hope for families in crisis. I am proud to have been part of the nursery from the beginning, first as a member and president of the Friends of the Crisis of Yolo nursery, then as a member and president of the board of directors, and now as director of nursery development and community relations.
The growth I have witnessed over the past 20 years is truly remarkable. With the desire to serve the children, the nursery started in a small rental house where we continue to operate today. We provided respite and overnight care for children for up to 30 days while providing advice and support to their parents to tackle the root causes of the crises that brought them to our doorstep.
Over the past 14 years, I have watched our CEO, Heather Sleuter, lead the nursery with tremendous passion and vision. I have seen the nursery grow from a small organization to a vital asset in our community. The nursery is not a dressing for the children and families of our clients; we are a long-term solution that changes the trajectories of lives. Thousands of parents have secured jobs, permanent housing and the skills to help their children grow and thrive.
As a member of the group that formally established the Nursery as an independent non-profit organization in 2014, I had the pleasure of watching the Board of Directors grow and prosper under the leadership of past Presidents JD Denton. and Jane Eadie, and current president JoEllen Welsch. Today, the Board of Directors is a diverse group of talented community members who are passionate and dedicated to the nursery.
Over the past 20 years, the Friends of the Yolo Crisis Nursery volunteer group has grown from a few members with modest goals to a sophisticated group of individuals who run two hugely successful annual fundraising events that generate 10% of our income. annual.
Under the leadership of Heather Sleuter, the nursery’s services and programs have also grown in number and complexity. We have added seven new programs to ensure families move from our services to being fully equipped and able to properly care for their families. We are changing lives and helping families chart a new course for a better future. The resilience of the children and families we serve continues to be a source of humility and admiration.
Over the coming year, our specialized services will continue to develop. Our CEO and trained trauma-informed staff will soon begin to provide specialized assessments of negative childhood experiences and appropriate follow-up for every child we meet.
ACEs are potentially traumatic events that occur in childhood. When a child is exposed to intense and constant stress, their brain development is impaired, which has an impact on their decision-making, learning, stress response and attention span. This developmental disruption is linked to chronic health problems, mental illness and substance use issues in adulthood. Further research has highlighted the increasing rate and lasting impact of CEAs. As one of only four crisis nurseries in California, Yolo Crisis Nursery is essential in identifying, mitigating and preventing adverse childhood experiences.
The nursery approach has proven itself over the past 20 years. In fact, 99% of our respite care families served do not enter the child welfare system. Our focus on CEAs in the coming years will provide another level of support essential to ensure the children we serve can grow into healthy, productive adults.
The nursery wouldn’t be here today without the tremendous support of our community. Thank you to everyone who has given and volunteered over the past 20 years. I invite you to join us in helping the most vulnerable children by donating your time and talents to the Friends of the Yolo Crisis Nursery, or by making a monetary donation online at www.yolocrisisnursery.org or by check mailed to 1107 Kennedy Place, Suite 5, Davis, CA 95616. On behalf of all of us at Yolo Crisis Nursery and the children and families we serve – Thank you!
– Becky Heard is Director of Development and Community Relations for Yolo Crisis Nursery.