August 29, 2021

Protecting Children by Breaking the Cycle of Homelessness

The Yolo Crisis Nursery has served the most vulnerable children and families in our community since 2001. We are committed to protecting children and strengthening families. We care for and keep children safe, while wrapping the parents with referrals and services to help them address the root cause of their crisis and emerge as strong and stable providers for their children.

The pandemic has been especially challenging for families with young children. Parents have faced several new obstacles in caring for and protecting their children, and for working parents childcare has been scarce. These extraordinary challenges are clearly seen in that last year the number of families served at the Nursery increased by 67% and we distributed 43% more care packages than the prior year. Our clients, Emma, Mateo, and their two small children were one of those families severely challenged by the pandemic.

Pre-COVID, Emma and Mateo’s family finances were tight, but they always managed to pay their bills each month. When the pandemic hit, they both lost their jobs and sank into a deep depression. Emma and Mateo desperately struggled to pay their rent and provide even the most basic essentials such as food and diapers for their children.

When the family arrived at the nursery, they were terrified. They were behind on their rent and faced the frightening possibility of becoming homeless with their two young children. The nursery immediately assigned a caseworker to help stabilize Emma and Mateo’s family and assembled a much-needed care package for the children with formula, food, diapers, and clean clothes. Yolo Crisis Nursery’s quick and loving response, and follow-ups at 30, 60, 90 days and one year, will help to position this family for long-term stability and success.

The nursery’s staff lovingly cared for their young children while Emma and Mateo worked to keep their family off the street. They worked with our partner agencies to obtain rental assistance, help with interviewing for new jobs, working with a counselor, and securing reliable childcare.

Over the last month, both Emma and Mateo have had several job interviews and secured long-term childcare for their youngest child. The couple is now focused on completing their job searches and finalizing long-term childcare for their oldest child. Both parents are excited about returning to work. The Yolo Crisis Nursery’s early intervention not only helped to keep Emma and Mateo’s family from becoming homeless, but we also worked with the family to prevent future crises with our wrap around services and referrals.

“We are focused on promoting the health and safety of children by helping their families become strong and stable. Breaking the cycle of homelessness for at-risk children and families is critical,” said Heather Sleuter, executive director of the Yolo Crisis Nursery. “We anticipate an increase in families at risk of or experiencing homelessness this fall and have staff on-call to support the likely increase in overnight safe stays.”

California’s eviction moratorium put in place in early 2020 is set to expire at the end of September. In an Aug. 11, 2021 article, the Los Angeles Times stated that California has distributed $242.65 million in rental assistance to 20,066 households. The article went on to say that according to California’s Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency, there are more than 130,000 aid requests pending and they are preparing for a massive ramp-up in the next few weeks before the moratorium expires.

To date, this aid program has served 379 households in Yolo County. If you or someone you know needs help to avoid eviction, there is still help available through California’s COVID-19 Rent Relief program. The program is designed to help both landlords and tenants to prevent eviction and loss of income. To learn more, please visit https://housing.ca.gov.

At the Yolo Crisis Nursery, we work tirelessly to protect children by helping families move from crisis to a place of stability and strength. Thank you to our family of Yolo Crisis Nursery supporters for your help in ensuring that every child in Yolo County grows up in a safe, loving and stable home. If you have not yet, I invite you to join us to help protect the most vulnerable children in our community with a donation to the Yolo Crisis Nursery. Please visit www.yolocrisisnursery.org to learn about the many ways to support the nursery and the children and families we serve.

— This article originally appeared in the Davis Enterprise on August 29, 2021, and was written by, JoEllen Welsch is the president of the Yolo Crisis Nursery.