July 24, 2022 Posted by Heather Sleuter

Rosalinda Gray, Helping the Most Vulnerable Children

When a family comes to the Yolo Crisis Nursery, they are in urgent need and have nowhere else to go. We embrace them. We keep their children safe and healthy, while identifying and providing the support and resources to manage the underlying problems that brought them to our door. This warm, welcoming approach and the comprehensive programs we offer address the root causes of child abuse, neglect, and the fragility of families in crisis in our community. 

My staff work side-by-side with children and families every day to invoke change and progress towards stability. It has been my pleasure to work with Rosalinda — her passion for helping vulnerable children is inspiring. Rosalinda joined the Yolo Crisis Nursery in 2009 and has held several positions including on-call staff, family life-skills coach, preschool teacher and supervised-visitation monitor. In 2011, Rosalinda gave birth to her son, who was born with disabilities. She chose to stay home to care for her son for several years. In 2017, Rosalinda returned to the nursery as a family specialist and was recently promoted to a program manager.

Rosalinda has a huge heart and always goes above and beyond for the children and families. In her seven years with the nursery, she has always been passionate about helping all at-risk children, but she really gravitates towards helping the most vulnerable children, those with disabilities.

Rosalinda is an active member of the Down Syndrome Information Alliance (DSIA) and has served as the president of the organization. She has led, as well as attended classes or events for the siblings of the children who have Down syndrome and autism; as well as the individuals with Down syndrome or dual diagnosis themselves. Rosalinda is now sharing this knowledge and expertise with our Yolo Crisis Nursery clients.

A great advocate for children and families, Rosalinda has helped more than 100 families obtain an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) or an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for children with disabilities or developmental delays. IFSPs and IEPs are part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which is legislation designed to ensure students with a disability are provided with a free appropriate education that is tailored to their individual needs. 

  • An Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) is a strengths-based plan of care for infants and toddlers up to age 3 with developmental delays or disabilities. The plan is based on a child and family assessment of strengths and needs, as well as the results of multidisciplinary evaluations. 
  • An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is developed for each child in the U.S. who needs special education. It is created through a team of the child’s parent(s) and district personnel who are knowledgeable about the child’s needs. IEPs must be reviewed every year to keep track of the child’s educational progress.

These plans give children more opportunities to learn and grow into the best person they are destined to be. They can range from a little extra assistance to help a child meet academic or physical milestones, to a plan that helps the child with different abilities to be educated alongside their non-disabled peers in the least restrictive environment. As Rosalinda explains, “The IEP and IFSP are the foundation of how a child will grow and develop. Understanding as a family what your end goal is for your child is very important.” 

Helping families with IEPs and IFSPs is just one of the many wraparound referral services that we offer at the Yolo Crisis Nursery to help children thrive and families get back on their feet. At the Nursery, we also help families with mental health issues, housing insecurity, food insecurity, parenting education classes, and family management.

Our programs protect children from immediate, grave harm and create long-term change by breaking generational cycles of abuse and neglect. Few events are more harmful for young children than family separation. While our emergency respite care protects children in high-risk situations, our wraparound services help families stay intact — 99% of our respite care clients do not enter the child-welfare system. 

If you believe all children deserve to grow up in a safe, stable, and loving home, we invite you to get involved with the Yolo Crisis Nursery — volunteer, make a financial contribution, or join the Friends of the Yolo Crisis Nursery and help plan an event. 

The Yolo Crisis Nursery Barn Dance is just around the corner, please save the date and join us on Saturday, October 8, at the Central Park Pavilion in Davis to kick up your heels for kids! The event is hosted by the Friends of the Yolo Crisis Nursery and sponsored by Nugget Markets. Tickets will go on sale at the end of August for only $25. 

To learn more about the Yolo Crisis Nursery, please visit www.yolocrisisnursery.org. On behalf of the client children and families we serve, thank you for your interest and support of the Nursery!

— This article originally appeared in the Davis Enterprise on July 24, 2022, and was written by Heather Sleuter, executive director at the Yolo Crisis Nursery.