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Proposal for crisis nursery advancing

Nevada County supervisors Tuesday approved grant proposals to help fund the county’s first nursery for children of parents in crisis and to provide youth with a comprehensive sex education program.

The nursery funding will help fill an unmet need and reduce the risk of abuse and neglect of children age 6 and younger, said Fran Freedle, project manager for the KARE Crisis Nursery.



KARE stands for Kids Assistance and Respite in Emergencies and is a project of the Soroptimist International Grass Valley chapter, a nonprofit organization.




Supervisors approved the funding request Tuesday as part of the Department of Housing and Community Services’ $500,000 state Community Development Block Grant application.

If approved, KARE will use $100,000 of the grant as a loan to acquire a nursery facility, said JoAnn Anders, a grant specialist with the county’s housing department.

The $100,000 will supplement funds collected through fund-raisers and from private, business and foundation donations.

Freedle said KARE is looking at buying an existing home in the Grass Valley area and hopes to open the nursery within a year.

So far, Soroptimist International has collected $270,000 of the initial $400,000 needed to purchase and convert the home.

Freedle said it will cost about $300,000 annually to operate the nursery.

“So we’re always looking for benevolent people who care about children and preventing child abuse,” said Freedle, a former county supervisor who said she has worked on the program since she left the board in 1998. She was then known as Fran Grattan.

The nursery will be open 24 hours a day and available to children for up to 30 days at no charge.

The crisis nursery will provide a safe and nurturing place for children whose parents have been arrested or jailed, for example, and for “tox-positive babies” born to drug-addicted mothers, Freedle said.

“We can take the child and hold it through withdrawal while Mom gets drug treatment and rehabilitation,” she said.

The $500,000 grant will also include $252,765 for housing rehabilitation assistance for low-income households and $46,250 for the senior house-sharing/matching program. The rest will go to administrative and service delivery costs.

In other business, supervisors approved submission of two state Teen Pregnancy Prevention grants proposed by the county’s Community Health Department.

“These proposals are designed to protect the health of teens living in Nevada County and to prevent unplanned adolescent pregnancy,” said Lisa Sterner, health education manager with the Community Health Department.

The Tier Two grant focuses on youth who have decided to be sexually active and helps them acquire the skills and resources they need to prevent pregnancy or avoid contracting sexually transmitted diseases, she said.

First and foremost, Sterner said the programs to be funded by the grants are intended to promote abstinence and protect youth.

Fifty-two percent of the teens who test positive for pregnancy in county clinics did not use birth control. Teens account for 66 percent of the gonorrhea, 50 percent of the herpes and 30 percent of the chlamydia cases in county clinics, according to county figures.

But regardless of the risks, Sterner said some teens choose to be sexually active.

“Recognizing the reality that teens in our community are sexually active and don’t appear to be protecting themselves, we believe it’s critical that we give young people the information and skills they need to protect their own lives,” Sterner said.

She said that while some object to comprehensive pregnancy prevention education, 84 percent of adults in the United States believe this information should be given to young people.

Supervisor Sue Horne said she was encouraged to see a comprehensive program aimed at preventing teen pregnancy, rather than one that just provides contraception.

“Just giving them birth control is not the long-term answer,” she said.


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