October 29, 2022

Daily Democrat: Yolo Crisis Nursery to expand services and open new center

By Margaret Dubin, Special to the Democrat

Twenty years ago, the Yolo Crisis Nursery promised to help all children who come to its doors because their families are in crisis. But, as demand for the non-profit organization’s services outpaced its capacity during the pandemic, the Nursery’s Board of Directors realized it was in danger of breaking that promise.

On May 11, 2022, the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation held a ceremony to announce its $2.5 million gift to the Nursery, kicking off the Nursery’s Brighter Tomorrows Campaign to build a larger facility and ensure it can keep its promise today and far into the future.

“Yolo Crisis Nursery transforms lives,” stated Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation Tribal Chairman Anthony Roberts. “By protecting children, supporting parents in crisis, and preserving families, the organization breaks generational cycles of abuse and neglect. We’re proud to partner with Yolo Crisis Nursery and enable this critical expansion of their work.”

Founded in 2001, the Yolo Crisis Nursery serves the children of families in crisis throughout Yolo County. It is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year, and provides safe, temporary care to children from newborn through five years of age, as well as “wrap-around services” for parents and guardians to help families solve problems and grow stable and strong. Staff trained in trauma-informed care and safety skills provide individualized daycare for infants and preschool for children, as well as programs for caregivers and families.

In its current 1,400-square-foot rental home, the Nursery is able to serve a maximum of 12 children during the day and four at night. Even before the pandemic, the demand for services was increasing along with population growth. With the pandemic, the demand for family support services skyrocketed, making the need for an expanded, better-equipped facility not only necessary but also urgent.

The Brighter Tomorrows Campaign hopes to raise up to $9 million. These funds will be used to build a 9,000-square-foot home on a donated one-acre parcel of land in south Davis. The new location in a quiet, residential neighborhood offers better privacy and access to services, with public transportation, stores and parks within walking distance. The building’s innovative design features a central courtyard and a comforting, home-like feel.

The Nursery will finally have space for private offices to conduct trauma assessments, specialized training, workshops and client counseling. And most importantly, with more than triple the number of beds to house children overnight and more indoor and outdoor spaces to learn and play, there will be room to serve more children and families.

Fundraising for the new center will continue throughout the year. Groundbreaking is scheduled for spring 2023, and construction should be completed by summer 2024. In the meantime, the Nursery continues to serve families at its current facility.

“We are honored by the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation’s support for our mission,” said Yolo Crisis Nursery Executive Director Heather Sleuter. “This transformative gift reflects our shared commitment to helping the children and families of Yolo County and provides the resources to act on that vision, to actually create brighter tomorrows.”

Through its Community Fund and Doyuti T’uhkama philanthropic programs, the Tribe has donated millions of dollars to organizations based within its ancestral territory of Yolo and Solano counties. Many of the Tribe’s gifts go to organizations serving children and families in need. Yocha Dehe has partnered with organizations such as the Northern California Children’s Therapy Center, Yolo County Children’s Alliance, Empower Yolo, and RISE, Inc.

The Tribe’s partnership with the Yolo Crisis Center started in 2014 in the form of program support. The Tribe has continued to partner annually with the Nursery to help it deliver direct services to children and families.

“Our vision is that every child in Yolo County will grow up in a safe and loving home,” said Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation Tribal Treasurer Leland Kinter. “The Nursery works to achieve this by helping families stay intact; in fact, 99% of the Nursery’s clients do not enter the child welfare system.

The Yolo Crisis Nursery is one of only four crisis nurseries operating in California. In addition, it is the only such Nursery in the state licensed as a daycare and preschool. As such, it is a prominent model for other communities and actively supports efforts to create crisis nurseries in other counties.

“It means the world that the children and families will have such a great place to live, learn and grow. It is so great to know that [the Tribe] and the Nursery share a vision,” explained Jane Eadie, the fundraising campaign chair and a long-time Nursery volunteer. “We hope to get a crisis center in every county in the state.”