The Friends of Yolo Crisis Nursery this week are launching a major fundraising campaign keep the doors of the nursery open beyond its scheduled June 30 closure.
“If we can raise $100,000 by June 15, odds are good that we can save this irreplaceable service,” said Heidy Kellison, a leader of the all-volunteer Friends group. “That’s dependent on finding a new host agency to take over the management, but we’re in talks with several potential candidates and are optimistic one can be secured.”
The Friends have established a donation page at donatenow.networkforgood.org/friendsofYCN. The “One Child – One Day” campaign suggests a tax-deductible donation of $50, which is the average cost of providing a child with one day of protective care in the nursery.
The campaign will officially kick off during an announcement at the Yolo County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday (April 29). The nursery is on the agenda at 10:30 a.m. Kellison expects a good turnout to show support for the cause.
“This community is not going to let this critical service disappear,” she said. “The risk of child abuse and neglect increase during times of family stress. We have a 97% success rate keeping children out of the child welfare system by providing emergency respite care and giving parents resources and support to resolve their crises. They strengthen their parenting skills and ultimately provide a safe and stable home for their children.“
The Yolo Crisis Nursery is one of only four such facilities in California serving children ages birth to 5. Parents place their children in the nursery on a voluntary basis for as little as a few hours and as long as 30 days while professional staff work to resolve family hardships.
Founded in 2001, the nursery was first managed by the nonprofit FamiliesFirst, which later merged to become EMQ FamiliesFirst. In late March, EMQ announced it will close the nursery. That sent the Friends group, working with other local leaders, into high gear.
“We’re pursuing two tracks at once: fundraising and seeking a new host agency to manage the nursery,” Kellison said. At the same time, the Friends are continuing work on a longer-range proposal for state funding to re-evaluate the effectiveness of the Yolo and Sacramento crisis nurseries. A study in 2004-2006 found considerable reductions in substantiated CPS cases. “If duplicated, a new study would validate the potential of opening nurseries in other California communities,” Kellison said.
The Friends collaborated with state Sen. Lois Wolk, a founder of Yolo’s nursery, on the “Crisis Nursery Project to Reduce Child Abuse.” Her office is shepherding legislation through the Capitol, with the goal of obtaining $2.4 million over two years to study the nurseries in what is being called a pilot project.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the supervisors will be asked to support the project in a letter to the state.
“If adopted in the state budget for 2014-15, the pilot money would come at an opportune time, but this is just one of many avenues of support we’re pursuing,” Kellison said. “The nursery has always survived on multiple funding streams – but the ideal is for the state to provide leadership about what constitutes meaningful child abuse prevention. Nurseries do.”
Kellison acknowledges that her group is confronting an “chicken or egg’ situation. “Potential funders want to know that there is a sustainable plan in place before they give. Potential new host agencies want to know that there is a guarantee of the necessary funding.
“Our focus now is on money in the bank,” she said. “We believe a strong showing of financial support now will go a long way toward bringing in a new host agency. And it will hopefully give the EMQ FamiliesFirst governing body the assurance it needs to keep the nursery open until the transition can take place, probably at year’s end.”
If plans don’t fall into place, though, the Friends are telling donors that contributions made through the Network for Good website will be refunded.
“We won’t keep the money if our efforts don’t result in continued nursery operations,” Kellison said. “But in my mind, that’s unlikely. We’re been hearing from many people and groups who want to help. In fact, if all goes as planned, one major donor may step up at the Board of Supervisors’ meeting on Tuesday.
“This is a community with a heart that is willing to pitch in when needed most,” Kellison said.
For more information or to volunteer with the campaign, email friends ofYCN@gmail.com or call (530) 386-2647.