July 03, 2022

Campaign Underway to Raise Remaining Funds Needed for New Crisis Nursery

For more than 20 years, a 1,400-square-foot house on a quiet residential street in Davis has served as a safe haven for young children with families in crisis.

Just in fiscal year 2021 alone, the Yolo Crisis Nursery provided 2,400 safe stays for children ages 0-5 whose parents were struggling with everything from homelessness to domestic violence.

In this small building, stretched to capacity, children received emergency overnight care and day care among other services.

The demand for those services has grown relentlessly thanks to the pandemic, economic insecurity, homelessness and more. In 2021, the Yolo Crisis Nursery served 67 percent more families than the year before and the need is only expected to grow.

That’s why an effort is underway to build a new home for the nursery, one that can serve more families and provide more services.

Land has already been deeded to the nursery at another location in the city and a capital campaign — the Brighter Tomorrows Campaign — is underway to raise the remaining $1.5 million of the $9.5 million needed for construction of a new 9,000-square-foot home and more services.

Thanks to the generosity of some large donors, as well as American Rescue Plan funds committed by the city of Davis and Yolo County, the campaign has already secured $8 million and is now turning to the community to help fill the remaining gap.

Among the large donations received so far:

* $2.5 million from Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation;
* $1.1 million in ARP funds from the county;
* $500,000 in ARP funds from the city of Davis; and
* $500,000 from Sutter Health

The gift from Sutter Health was announced last week, with Tammy Powers, chief administrative officer of Sutter Davis Hospital, calling support for programs like the crisis nursery integral to Sutter’s mission.

“As a not-for-profit integrated network, community benefit is at the core of what we do,” said Powers. “It allows us to understand the urgent needs of the most vulnerable populations in our community.

“It is particularly meaningful to be a part of the Brighter Tomorrows effort supporting the Yolo Crisis Nursery.”

Elected officials present at a campaign kick-off in June echoed the importance of the crisis nursery to the community.

“The Yolo Crisis Nursery provides a place for children during difficult periods so parents can get back on their feet,” said Yolo County Supervisor Jim Provenza of Davis.

“Helping children is our most important goal in the community. I cannot think of anything more important.”

Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, D-Winters, echoed that.

“This program is so phenomenal,” she said. “We can take care of the children in our community and make sure they have a better life. We can make sure moms and dads have the tools to be good parents.”

More of that will be possible in a new, larger facility, including:

* More than triple the number of beds for housing children overnight
* Designated spaces for preschool classes, training sessions, and meetings
* Private offices for parent counseling and other wraparound services
* Space for medical assessments, targeted therapy, parenting training, and expanded services
* Outside playground space, with designated separate age-appropriate areas
* Improved facilities and equipment, from an efficient, modern kitchen to critical security systems
* Administrative spaces, storage, and entry areas to provide more effective services

Heather Sleuter, executive director of the Yolo Crisis Nursery, expressed gratitude Thursday for all of the donations that have come in so far and said the next “$1.5 million will be extremely important.”

Individual donations will be key, just as they have been throughout the history of the nursery, including eight years ago when the nursery faced an uncertain future.

For years, EMQ FamiliesFirst had operated the nursery but pulled out in June 2014, citing the cost of running the nursery as well as fallout from issues at its other Davis facility at the time — a group home on Fifth Street for troubled youths that had been shuttered.

Alarm bells were sounded and the community came through, with donations pouring in from all corners — from Davis firefighters and local businesses to children’s bake sales and private foundations, as well as from individual residents.

Now a standalone nonprofit, the Yolo Crisis Nursery is turning to the community again.

Sleuter said the new facility will be life-changing for the staff and the families they serve.

Currently that staff works in a crowded living-room space, overnight beds are limited and even the small backyard requires that children go outside to play at different times.

And serving all the children who need crisis care in Yolo County has grown increasingly challenging.

In announcing the tribe’s $2.5 million donation for the new facility, Yocha Dehe Tribal Chairman Anthony Roberts noted that the nursery “transforms lives.”

“By protecting children, supporting parents in crisis and preserving families, the nursery breaks general cycles of abuse and neglect,” Roberts said. “We’re proud to partner with Yolo Crisis Nursery and enable this critical expansion of their work.”

Community members interested in joining that effort can make donations at https://yolocrisisnursery.org

Plans call for construction on the new nursery to begin next spring on a one-acre parcel in South Davis.

— This article originally appeared in the Davis Enterprise on July 3, 2022 and was written by Anne Ternus-Bellamy. Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at aternus@davisenterprise.net. Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy.