Kendra first came to the Crisis Nursery of Greater Rochester when her youngest son was in the hospital for surgery. The single mother could not focus on his recovery while also caring for her other three children in a hospital room where space was limited, but she had no other trusted childcare options. Social workers referred her to the Crisis Nursery, a program of The Center for Youth that delivers free, temporary childcare during family emergencies.
"It was stressful, but my son’s situation outweighed everything. I had to make a critical decision,” Kendra says. (Kendra’s last name was withheld to protect her identity.)
Crisis Nursery staff members made her children feel at home and gave Kendra peace of mind while she stayed at the hospital. “It was a safe haven for them and a comfort for me,” Kendra says.
Maintaining staffing levels at the Crisis Nursery to support an increased demand from families in crisis has become a challenge. The number of children served has doubled from 2014 to 2015. During the past several months, the program has operated at or near capacity.
The Crisis Nursery is the only program of its kind in Upstate New York. Babies and children – the majority of whom are under age 5 – can stay for a few hours or overnight up to a few days during crises often related to medical illness, unsafe housing, homelessness, domestic violence, unemployment, or death. The nursery, located in a residential home on Genesee Park Boulevard, protects children from potential exposure to abuse, neglect, or trauma while giving parents the time and guidance necessary to resolve issues they are facing. By supporting families during emergencies, the program is preventing greater, more serious crises in the future.
The Center for Youth adopted the Crisis Nursery nearly three years ago when lack of funding threatened to close its doors. This safe haven operates entirely on the generosity of the United Way, foundations and individuals; there is no sustainable government funding stream available for this program. But the need has never been greater as families are experiencing longer, more complex crises. Last year, from January through September 2014, the nursery served 411 children and provided nearly 4,400 hours of care. This year, through September 2015, the nursery served approximately 830 children and provided nearly 7,700 hours of care.
To maintain this level of quality care for families who have no other childcare supports during emergencies, the Crisis Nursery relies on trained relief staff members who respond at a moment’s notice during the evening, overnight, and on weekends. Funds to support this critical team are needed most. Donations to support the nursery can be made at www.centerforyouth.net/crisis-nursery. Checks can also be made out to the “Crisis Nursery” and sent to The Center for Youth at 905 Monroe Ave., Rochester, NY 14620. A Go Fund Me page also has been set up. It can be found at https://www.gofundme.com/q28zqhgc