Pandemic Amplifies Struggles for New Parents

Six months into the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all adapting to what our new “normal” life looks like. I am seeing this in my own life and in the experiences of my patients. For new parents, this is amplified in ways that many of us cannot fathom.

Just imagine bringing your first child into the world as a single mother. To keep your newborn baby safe, you are not able to share your bundle of joy with family and friends for fear of exposure to COVID. Beyond the emotional isolation, fulfilling basic needs, like going to the grocery store, is a challenge for fear of exposing both yourself and your infant to the virus.

Amber, a young mother of two, found herself isolated, alone and without any support. Amber and Josh welcomed their second child this summer and in August, Josh was deployed with the National Guard. This was not the first time Josh had been deployed, but it was the most challenging for Amber. The added stress of COVID-19 had her feeling isolated and more alone than ever. Separated from Josh, her family and friends, Amber was stripped of her usual support system and was unable to overcome the biological and emotional symptoms of postpartum depression.

Thankfully, Amber found the Yolo Crisis Nursery. Amber came to us exhausted, with despair visible on her face, not having slept in over a week. With her family thousands of miles away and friends unable to help due to the pandemic, Amber and her two children were all alone. The nursery welcomed Amber, her newborn daughter, and 4-year-old son with wraparound arms.

Our trauma-trained staff lovingly cared for the children while one of our caseworkers met with Amber to get her help and establish a treatment plan for her postpartum depression. Through our initial screening process, Amber’s 4-year-old son was identified as being on the autism spectrum. After his diagnosis, one of our caseworkers connected Amber to necessary services including Alta California Regional Center and an Individualized Education Plan. Meanwhile, the nursery cared for both children in our daycare and preschool while Amber received the necessary medical and counseling services to help her battle postpartum depression.

The Yolo Crisis Nursery is an essential resource for our community and a place of hope for families in crisis. I am proud to serve on the Yolo Crisis Nursery Board of Directors. As one of only four crisis nurseries in California, the Yolo Crisis Nursery is an essential early intervention child-abuse-prevention program. We serve families with children ages birth to 5 years and offer trauma-informed childcare, including crisis and respite care. Equally important are our wraparound services to assist families to resolve the crises that brought them to our door. Our services are voluntary and provided free of charge to our client families.

Unfortunately, history informs us that as stress increases — like during a pandemic — all too often, neglect and abuse also increase. Now more than ever, it is important that we recognize and guide those in our community, like Amber, who may need extra assistance to get the help they need.

Amber is not alone. Last year, 13% of new mothers reported experiencing postpartum depression in California. At the nursery and in my work as a physician, we have seen an increase in postpartum depression cases since COVID-19 caused the shelter-in-place order in March. This trend will likely continue because so many families are experiencing extreme stress, a risk factor for postpartum depression. Sadly, the populations most susceptible to postpartum depression are some of the hardest hit by the pandemic — racial and ethnic minorities, Medicaid-eligible low-income families, and those with lower levels of educational attainment. Those populations all report more cases of postpartum depression symptoms compared to non-Hispanic white women.

If you believe that all children deserve to grow up in a safe, loving, and stable home and would like to help young families like Amber’s, I invite you to join us at the Yolo Crisis Nursery. We are always looking for people who are willing to lend their time and talent to join us.  To learn more or to make a gift, please visit our website at www.yolocrisisnursery.org. We would love the opportunity to get to know you.

— By Joan Smith-Maclean, Yolo Crisis Nursery Board Member. This article originally appeared in the Davis Enterprise on Sunday, September 27, 2020

As a single mom and an essential worker, Amanda was in an impossible situation. She couldn’t survive financially without her job and childcare was scarce due to COVID-19. Amanda risked losing her job, her home, and most importantly, her four-year-old daughter, Isabella. The Yolo Crisis Nursery was there to meet Amanda’s emergency childcare needs and to help reduce her family’s stress. For the first time, we identified that Isabella is deaf and coping with significant developmental challenges. We connected Amanda with the necessary medical and social services. Meanwhile, Isabella thrived at the Nursery while Amanda worked and focused on resolving her family’s crisis. Isabella now attends a specialized preschool and Amanda is healthy, employed, and empowered to build a brighter future.

Regrettably, we will not be able to gather in person this fall at the annual Yolo Crisis Nursery Barn Dance. In the meantime, we are practicing our two-step and looking forward to an epic Barn Dance in Fall 2021!

We are pulling a magic trick out of our cowboy hats, thanks to the Travis Credit Union Foundation’s COVID 19 Relief Initiative!

We may not be able to boot scoot’n boogie this year, but we can kick up our heels to raise money for at-risk children by participating in the Travis Credit Union Foundation’s COVID-19 Relief Initiative.

Every dollar donated up to $20,000 by September 30th, will unlock a dollar-for-dollar matching gift from the Travis Credit Union Foundation for a possible total donation to the Nursery of $40,000!

Gifts in any amount are welcome. All of the money raised will go directly to helping young children and families in crisis.

To qualify for the matching gift, all donations must go through the Travis Credit Union Foundation. Travis Credit Union Foundation will keep all donor and donation information private. Rest assured the Nursery will receive your entire donation and the matching gift from Travis Credit Union Foundation. As much as we’d love to recognize and thank you personally, the Yolo Crisis Nursery will receive only the funds, but not the donor names or gift amounts.

Please visit the Foundation web site to donate online or for instructions on how to donate in person or by check. Please be sure to select from the drop-down box (we are 2nd from the bottom) or note Yolo Crisis Nursery on your check. Below is a screenshot of the donation page with the Yolo Crisis Nursery selection circled.

Join us each fall as we kick up our heels for kids at the Yolo Crisis Nursery Barn Dance! A one-of-a-kind event, hosted by the Friends of the Yolo Crisis Nursery. Line dance the night away to live music and tempt your taste buds with delicious Barn Dance fare available for purchase from local vendors. Beer, wine, and water will be available for purchase at our conveniently located watering holes.

The Barn Dance is all about community. It is about bringing people together for an evening of entertainment, dancing, and good old-fashioned fun to benefit the Yolo Crisis Nursery.

When crab season comes each year to Northern California so does the Annual “Krustaceans for Kids” Crab Feed benefitting the Yolo Crisis Nursery. Join us for all the fun, food, and yes, fundraising!

Krustaceans for Kids is an extraordinary crab feed! Volunteer servers will keep your table well-stocked with buckets of delicious, crab, pasta with red sauce, Caesar salad, and delicious bread. It is all-you-can-eat, so come hungry. Beer, wine, and soft drinks will also be available throughout the event at conveniently located no-host bars.

So much has changed and yet some things remain the same.

As a member of the Yolo Crisis Nursery Board of Directors, an 18-year member and past president of the Davis Rotary Club, and a passionate advocate for children, I am seeing the potentially devastating challenges the COVID-19 pandemic is creating for young children and their families.  COVID has changed the way the Yolo Crisis nursery works, but it has not changed the positive impact the nursery makes on children’s lives.

With so many in our community struggling, the services that charitable organizations — like the Yolo Crisis Nursery — provide are as critically necessary as ever, as demonstrated in Amanda’s story below.

Amanda is an essential worker and a single mother battling mental illness.  Amanda and her 4-year-old daughter, Isabella, came to the nursery in April when they found themselves in an impossible situation. Amanda needed to go to work and childcare was scarce due to the shelter-in-place orders.

Without childcare, Amanda’s mental health was stretched to the limit, she risked losing her job, her home, and most importantly, Isabella.  The nursery quickly assessed their needs and wrapped them both with compassionate care and services. Unbeknownst to Amanda until assessed by the trauma-trained Yolo Crisis Nursery staff through its intake and screening process, Isabella was identified to be deaf and on the autism spectrum.

Our amazing nursery staff worked with Amanda to help her understand Isabella’s diagnosis and connected her to the medical and social services her family needed. Together with Amanda and Isabella’s doctors, we built a treatment plan.

Isabella thrived at the nursery, as our staff worked with her on non-verbal communication skills and some behavior modifications.  Isabella made huge improvements in her social functioning and communication skills while in the nursery’s care.

With the nursery’s help, in just three months, Isabella has a medical plan in place and is enrolled in a preschool with an individual education plan.  Amanda is healthy, employed, stable, and is the best mom she can be for Isabella. The pandemic has changed our world, but thankfully, some things have not changed.

The Yolo Crisis Nursery is here to help all families in crisis with children from birth to five years old, and our services are voluntary and provided free of charge. Asking for help is sometimes not easy for parents; it takes courage and love for your child. We understand that parents are doing their very best, but sometimes they need assistance to properly care for their children.

The Nursery is funded by the generosity of individuals, businesses, foundations, granting agencies, and local government.  We could not help people like Amanda and Isabella without this ongoing support.  Regrettably, we will not be able to gather in person for our annual Barn Dance fundraiser this fall.

While we may not be able to line dance, we can get in line to support Yolo County kids in crisis through the Travis Credit Union Foundation’s COVID-19 Relief Initiative. Every dollar donated up to $20,000 by September 30th will unlock a dollar-for-dollar matching gift for the Yolo Crisis Nursery from the Travis Credit Union Foundation.

This is a tremendous opportunity to double your donation and to help more children and families in crisis.  To qualify for the matching gift, all donations must go through the Travis Credit Union Foundation.

Please visit www.tcufund.org/ways-to-give/ and select Yolo Crisis Nursery from the dropdown box to donate online or to learn more about how to donate in person or via check. Alternatively, you may also visit a local Travis Credit Union branch and specify that your foundation gift is to benefit the Yolo Crisis Nursery.

As the only crisis nursery in Yolo County, Yolo Crisis Nursery has always been an essential resource and place of hope for families, and it has been especially so for those dramatically impacted by COVID-19. I am extremely proud of the amazing work that our Executive Director, Heather Sleuter, and her team do day in and day out for children and families in Yolo County, no matter the circumstances.

It is my pleasure and honor to serve on the Yolo Crisis Nursery Board of Directors. The work we are doing as a board to advance our vision that every child grows up in a safe, loving, and stable home is rewarding in ways I could not have imagined.

If you believe that all children deserve to grow up in a safe, loving and stable home and would like to help young families like Amanda and Isabella, I invite you to join us at the Yolo Crisis Nursery.

We are always looking for people who are willing to lend their time and talent to join us.  To learn more or to make a gift, please visit our website www.yolocrisisnursery.org. If you think you might be interested in joining the Yolo Crisis Nursery Board of Directors, please email us at info@yolocrisisnursery.org. We would love the opportunity to get to know you.

— Kay Resler is a member of the board of directors for the Yolo Crisis Nursery. This article originally appeared in the Davis Enterprise on July 26, 2020. 

Life has been turned upside-down for us all since mid-March. We are so thankful we had our eighth annual Krustaceans for Kids Crab Feed before then. The evening was the last social gathering for so many of us before sheltering in place to help flatten the curve.

As the State begins to reopen, we want to express our deep gratitude for two record-breaking events — Big Day of Giving and Krustaceans for Kids. The proceeds raised through these events are allowing the Nursery staff to serve more families in new and creative ways from the frontlines of the Coronavirus pandemic.

We are so grateful for all who sprinkled the Nursery with Love for the Big Day of Giving during the first week in May. Despite the challenging circumstances in all of our lives, our amazing community rallied to help the most vulnerable children and those hardest hit by the pandemic.

We extend a special thanks to Greg and Amy McNece and the Yolo Crisis Nursery Board of Directors for their matching gifts. We are so pleased to have exceeded those generous gifts. Thank you also to all who donated and participated in our Sprinkler Challenge — Yolo County kids felt all that love! The gifts made for Big Day of Giving have a profoundly positive impact at this critical juncture. Thank You!

This year’s Krustaceans for Kids Crab Feed was made possible by our generous sponsors, donors, volunteers, and guests, to whom this year we say a very special thank you! We cannot thank our volunteers enough, particularly the event co-chairs Nancy Storm and Martha Bernauer. The year-after-year growth of this sell-out event would not be possible without their leadership and tireless efforts. To the entire Friends of the Yolo Crisis Nursery team: You are making the world a better place for the children of Yolo County and you have our heartfelt appreciation.

Thank you also Lamppost Pizza, Upper Crust Bakery, Sudwerk Brewing, and Paradise Valley Estates for your delicious donations. And a very special thank you goes to our volunteer servers from the National Charity League and Woodland High School National Honors students.

We would like to recognize and thank our returning Premier Sponsor Sutter Health and King Crab Sponsors Jim and Lucinda Childress, Davisville Management Company, 2nd Street Storage, Aggie Square Apartments, Fountain Circle Townhomes and Almondwood Apartments for their ongoing generosity and support.

Sincere thanks to our generous Dungeness Crab Sponsors: Dignity Health, Kaiser Permanente, and Harris and Mary Liu of the Woodland McDonald’s.

To our wonderful Blue Crab Sponsors: Martha Bernauer & Maren Heise, Brooks Painting & Higgins Team Good Home Group, Brown Construction Inc., Marguerite Callahan, Carbahal & Company, Coldwell Banker Select Davis & Woodland, Davis Firefighters Local 3494, Davis Oddfellows & Davis Rebekah Lodge, F Street Dispensary, Steve & Teri Greenfield, Heidy & Peter Kellison, Morse Custom Homes & Remodeling, NakanoKennedySimpson, Recology, Kay Resler, Shottenkirk Honda, Sharon Schauer & Brodie Hamilton, Stromberg Redway Friends, Swim America – Davis, Stewart & Ann Teal, Union Bank, and Welsch Family & Friends – Thank you.

On behalf of the Board of Directors and Friends of the Yolo Crisis Nursery, we would also like to thank our amazing volunteer kitchen crew, bartenders, security team, The Bridge Church, Collegiate Studios, and CK Hicks.

And last but not least, thank you to the numerous businesses, community groups and individuals who donated items for our auction and raffle. Your generosity was a critical piece to our success.

Our local small businesses have always rallied to support those in need in our community, and we encourage our community to shop local to support those businesses in their time of need. If you are interested in helping vulnerable children and families in Yolo County, I hope you’ll consider joining us. Please email bheard@yolocrisisnursery.org to learn more about how you can help the Yolo Crisis Nursery. Visit our website, www.yolocrisisnursery.org, to learn more or join us with a donation or by volunteering.

— This article was written by Steve Willhoff, Yolo Crisis Nursery Treasurer. The article first appeared in the Davis Enterprise on May 24, 2020. 

I am so inspired by the compassion, creativity, and resilience of our community and local businesses, yet I find myself with a sense of uncertainty — somewhere between what was and what will be.

For me, the pandemic has emphasized how necessary my personal and community connections are to my emotional and physical well-being. I’ve managed to find creative and technological methods for sustaining those relationships, but for some, it’s not so easy.

That’s where the Yolo Crisis Nursery comes in. The nursery continues to provide community support and understanding for Yolo County’s most vulnerable children and their families in crisis during the Coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, history informs us that with stress and crisis, all too often, comes neglect and abuse.

Without a doubt, physical distancing is a unique challenge for our community that impacts us all in different ways During this time we know that the hardest hit are our community’s most vulnerable — the children whose families are facing serious and often life-threatening crises like abuse, mental illness or extreme poverty during this pandemic.

The Yolo Crisis Nursery is here for children and their families as a place of hope and help as they navigate this period of uncertainty due to COVID-19.

The Yolo Crisis Nursery is serving children to provide services to those whose safety is at the highest risk within the guidelines of national, state, and local health officials. The children who have come to the Nursery in the last month have had very high needs.

Our trauma-trained staff has seen undiagnosed children, and through our screening process helped to identify major medical issues such as deafness and Autism. While providing compassionate care for these children, we worked with them and their families to get the medical care and resources they need to help properly care for those elevated needs.

We have children onsite at the Crisis Nursery during the day and overnight. The number of children having experienced abuse and neglect is high, and it is anticipated that number will grow even higher as the pandemic and its effects wears on. Our compassionate caregivers are working with these children to comfort and support them and to help them to heal.

Yolo Crisis Nursery case managers are working with families to provide wrap-around services and to connect them to additional resources in our community for support. We are in regular communication with our nursery families to ensure their children are safe and cared for.

We also provide the childcare essentials that parents need, along with those currently recommended by local and national health officials to help keep them and their children healthy.

In addition to our crisis nursery program, we continue to offer our in-home parenting education programs (Family Life Skills and Attachment Biobehavioral Catch-up or ABC) by way of doorstep curriculum delivery/pick-up followed by video and phone sessions.

These two programs are critical to help children and parents navigate life’s challenges in a time of uncertainty. Also, for the first time, we are taking our family engagement night virtual this month to continue to build and sustain our client families’ support network during this isolating, stressful time.

Our committed staff continues to adapt and find creative ways to help families navigate the pandemic while also managing family crises of abuse, mental illness, unemployment, and homelessness.

Through our community care package program, we are seeing an increased need for diapers, wipes, formula, and other childcare essentials. Sadly, we expect to see this need increase significantly over the coming weeks and months.

Currently, our most pressing need is for unrestricted funds to help support our families through their crises.  In the first week of May, we are participating in two planned generosity movements — Giving Tuesday Now on May 5 and Big Day of Giving on Thursday, May 7.

If you are able to donate at any level, we hope you will give from your heart and help us sprinkle the Nursery with love the first week in May by making a donation.

Thanks to the generosity of Greg and Amy McNece, the first $10,000 in donations will be matched dollar for dollar! Your gift will help the Nursery provide services to protect children while also helping at-risk families remain as stable as possible through this pandemic.

We encourage those who are able to participate by making a single gift in the first week of May. You can schedule your gift now at www.yolocrisisnursery.org or by visiting our website the first week in May or mailing a check to 1107 Kennedy Place, Suite 5, Davis, CA 95616.

None of us know when the pandemic will end nor the full extent of how our lives will be changed, but for now we can all sleep better knowing that the Yolo Crisis Nursery is in the frontlines keeping our community’s most vulnerable children safe and their families whole.

— This article was written by JoEllen Welsch is the president of Yolo Crisis Nursery and appeared in the Davis Enterprise on April 26, 2020. 

Safety, compassion, community, commitment, respect, and hope are the values that Yolo Crisis Nursery embraces 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Every child we serve receives 100% of our dedication to maintaining those values, along with our further commitment to embrace their parents in our wrap-around services to help preserve their family so that they can grow up in a safe, loving, and stable home.

When parents and caregivers experience high levels of stress without resources, support or relief to help manage their crises, child abuse, and neglect increases. In this unprecedented period of uncertainty due to COVID-19, there are more families than ever experiencing extreme stress.

When parents aren’t able to work, poverty and homelessness will increase, leading to prolonged toxic stress on families that will result in increased domestic violence, substance abuse, child abuse, psychiatric issues, and other serious situations. In these uncertain times, the Yolo Crisis Nursery will focus on the safety of our community’s most vulnerable children as well as the safety of our staff.

We will keep providing services to help children whose safety is at the highest risk within the guidelines of national and local health officials. We are monitoring the CDC guidelines and are in contact with state, local and county health officials regularly to ensure our staff, children, and their families are kept as safe as possible.

Yolo County’s recent shelter-at-home mandate will help reduce the risk of further spread of the virus and save lives. We understand that COVID-19 is causing concern and upheaval for us as individuals and for our community. We are feeling this and our community’s children feel it too. Children may be agitated or confused as they are undoubtedly unsettled by the drastic changes to their normal routines and unavoidable ominous news that surrounds us all.

Now more than ever, it is important that we recognize and guide those in our community who might need extra assistance to the help they need. Yolo County is filled with generous and compassionate people and together we all do make a difference. Together we can weather this crisis with grace, dignity, and minimize the suffering for our community.

During this time, the Yolo Crisis Nursery is developing online resources, and information to help families stay strong and resilient. If you have not already liked the Friends of the Yolo Crisis Nursery page on Facebook, please join our community for the latest updates.

We are working to bring in child and family specialists as well as other experts. We plan to cover key topics like how to discuss the virus with children, parental self-care, as well as ideas to keep children engaged and learning during this challenging time. Please like us on Facebook and stay tuned!

We invite you to join us, please visit www.yolocrisisnursery.org to learn more about the nursery, or to make a donation. Thank you Yolo County, we are stronger together.

— This was written by Heather Sleuter is the executive director of the Yolo Crisis Nursery and first appeared in Davis Enterprise on March 22, 2020.