Crisis nursery a big project; needs community support |

Crisis nursery a big project; needs community support

The KARE (Kids Assistance and Respite in Emergencies) Crisis Nursery is uniquely designed to fill an existing gap in services. Families with young children have nowhere to turn when they experience unexpected, emergency and overly stressful situations that put their children at risk of abuse or neglect. KARE can be their safe refuge.

Unlike traditional child care, children from birth to 6 years old may be voluntarily placed at the KARE Crisis Nursery for any length of time up to 30 days. They may stay 24 hours per day while their parents are linked to the services they need. Children stay at no charge. And, the parents will be expected to have daily contact with their children and visit at least every other day. Also, they will be expected to work to resolve the situations that caused them to come to KARE.

The KARE Crisis Nursery is a not-for-profit public benefit corporation. It is a private service, not a public or county service. No child will be turned away if they meet the criteria of the nursery and there is a bed available. Only six children will be cared for at a time, and their stay will be determined by the family need. It is anticipated that between 75 and 100 children will be cared for annually.

Why do we need the KARE Crisis Nursery in Nevada County? The need is well documented. Statistics indicate growing rates of child-abuse referrals. Over the past three years 3,497 calls were made, referring 5,200 children. In January 2001, referrals for children from birth to 5 years old totaled 27.3 percent.

Doctors, ministers and many in our community who work with families continually tell us that they are anxious for the KARE Crisis Nursery to open because they have families they could refer right now.

Nevada County has a higher child abuse rate (92.8 per thousand children) than the state (78.5 per thousand children). These statistics, along with a growing awareness of the needs of families in our community, compelled Soroptimist International of Grass Valley to take on the sponsorship of a the KARE Crisis Nursery to help these children and families.

What situations would cause parents to bring their children to KARE? There are many situations that make KARE a good choice, including the obvious domestic violence disputes that put children at risk of abuse or neglect.

Parents may end up unexpectedly losing their jobs. While they are seeking new employment, they can bring their children to KARE and we will link them to agencies that may help. The little ones will not be neglected, because they will be cared for in a model home-like setting that is safe and nurturing and supportive of their parents.

A newborn baby may be at high risk of neglect and abuse because the mother is drug-addicted during delivery. When she is discharged from the hospital, she may still be under the influence of drugs, and often the babies are as well, a condition called tox-positive. KARE can provide the special dedicated care that a tox-positive baby needs during its first critical days of life. They need to be kept warm, held and helped through the withdrawal they suffer. And, we can provide support and direction to the mother so she can get the help she needs.

There is a high incidence of post-partum depression in deliveries in Nevada County. Nationwide, 10-15 percent of deliveries result in post -partum depression with 1-2 percent of these resulting in severe impairment. Teen mothers are particularly prone to post-partum depression with percentages rising to 22 to 26 percent. In severe cases, KARE can provide quality care while the moms get the help they need.

A young family with a single parent as the sole provider could get overwhelmed and just need a time out. Sometimes dads are experiencing the stress of raising families alone. After a day of hard work, it is difficult to come home to the needs of children and a brief respite could really help. When the nursery opens, we will make respite reservations if space is available to help during these difficult and stressful times.

If fund-raising and other efforts are successful, the KARE Crisis Nursery could be ready to help little children within the year. To operate, KARE will need volunteers, children’s clothing, toys, food and other supplies. More than $40,000 has been raised for a down payment, and an application that is broadly supported has been made for a $100,000 grant to acquire a home to convert to a nursery. Another $230,000 is needed to acquire and convert a nursery site. And help will be needed to make the conversion. Funds will also be needed to operate the nursery. Those are estimated at $300,000 annually.

Yes, it’s a big project, but in a community like ours that cares about families, once the need is recognized, there is a willingness to help. KARE welcomes, needs and encourages support from the community.

Nothing is as important as preventing child abuse.

Fran Grattan Freedle, is project manager of KARE Crisis Nursery Inc. The project can contacted at P. O. Box 2080 Grass Valley, 95945.

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