Protecting Children, Preserving Families Since 2001

I can still remember the trembling of her lips and the fear in her eyes as my mother begged my siblings and me to go to our room and lock the door. We did not want to leave her alone with him, but if we did not, my father’s rage would spill on to us.

As you can probably guess by now, I did not grow up in a safe and stable home. I was born in Mexico and raised by a single mother who came to this country to escape abuse and to build a brighter future for our family. My mother worked two jobs to provide for my siblings and me and still struggled to make ends meet. While growing up, I felt the chronic stress that adversity and abuse cause. This is why I want to do everything in my power to raise awareness and create change so that other children do not have to experience what I did.

Child abuse is an issue that should concern everyone because children are our future. Did you know that 9 million children live in California and that one in four of them experience abuse or neglect at some point in their lives?  April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and as a community, we must unite and fight to raise awareness. All children have a fundamental need for a safe, stable, and loving home, and the time to make this a reality and create change is now.

Growing up in a healthy environment should not be a privilege. It should be every child’s right. It is our shared civic responsibility to help ensure all children grow up in a safe, stable and loving home. Supporting, protecting, and funding this fundamental right will benefit everyone and will allow all our children a real chance to grow into healthy adults who will improve our communities and society as a whole.

For the past 20 years, Yolo Crisis Nursery has worked tirelessly to protect at-risk children while also keeping families together. The nursery is only one of four crisis nurseries in the state. It is unique because it provides trauma-informed emergency childcare for families in crisis while creating a support system that not only helps to mitigate the current crisis but helps avoid new ones in the future. This approach has been very successful. We are proud that 98% of respite care families served at the Yolo Crisis Nursery have not entered child protective services.

Child abuse knows no boundaries. It occurs across all income levels and racial and ethnic backgrounds. Many factors contribute to child abuse and neglect, including stress, family history of violence, poverty, substance abuse and even chronic health conditions.

Today, the nursery’s work is more important than ever. Family stress levels are through the roof as a result of the pandemic. The number of families experiencing crises and adversity has increased enormously. More and more families are in need of support and the Yolo Crisis Nursery is there for our community.  We never turn children away.

My commitment to making a difference for future generations motivated me to become a first-generation college student, and last year I earned my bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in sociology from UC Davis. I am now applying to graduate school with the goal of obtaining my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.

Having personally experienced it, I understand how detrimental toxic stress can be on a person’s mental and physical health. Consequently, I want to do everything within my means to raise awareness of its devastating effects and be a part of the solution.

I recently joined the Yolo Crisis Nursery Board of Directors because we share a passion to prevent child abuse, preserve families, and create change. Child abuse and neglect is an issue that affects everyone. There is a well-known quote that asserts “we need to be the change that we want to see,” and I invite you to join me in being a part of that change.

On May 6, the Sacramento regional community will come together for the Big Day of Giving. It is a 24-hour generosity movement and an opportunity to rally around our local nonprofits after a uniquely challenging year. Every gift, no matter the size, makes a difference!

We hope you will give from your heart to the Yolo Crisis Nursery to help us build safe, stable, and loving homes for Yolo County children to grow up in. Thanks to the generosity of the MJ & MP Whelan-Miille Family Charitable Fund’s donation of  $5,000  and Alan and Mary Buckpitt’s donation of $1,000, they have come together to match the first $6,000 in Big Day of Giving donations dollar-for-dollar!

Your gift will help the Nursery provide services to protect children and help at-risk families achieve stability.

We encourage those who are able to please make a gift on May 6. You can schedule your gift now by visiting our website at www.yolocrisisnursery.org or by mailing a check to 1107 Kennedy Place, Suite 5, Davis, CA 95616.

The Yolo Crisis Nursery is saving children’s lives and transforming families. We all need to be the change we hope to see, and your gift will directly support the frontline work that the Nursery is doing to keep our community’s most vulnerable children safe and their families whole.

This article was written by Erika Y. Cisneros, Member of the Yolo Crisis Nursery Board of Directors. The article originally appeared in the Davis Enterprise on April 25, 2021.

To Yolo Crisis Nursery Crab Feed Co-Chairs Nancy Storm and Martha Bernauer, it was never a question of “if” we would hold our ninth annual event; it was always a matter of “how.”

All money raised at the Crab Feed goes directly to support our respite-care programs, and with the past year having been extraordinarily challenging for the children and families the Nursery serves, not having the Crab Feed was simply not an option to Nancy and Martha.

The Yolo Crisis Nursery Crab Feed was the first of its kind for us with a drive-through Crab Feed and virtual SHELLebration. We served over 600 crab dinners and hosted a multitude of people at our virtual event. Our community’s support and enthusiasm for the Nursery and Crab Feed exceeded our wildest dreams and was made possible by our generous sponsors, donors, volunteers and guests, to whom we say thank you, thank you, thank you!

We are deeply grateful to you, our community, for turning out in such force, demonstrating, once again, your unified support for the Nursery’s programs to prevent child abuse, nurture healthy and resilient children, strengthen parents, and preserve families. Thank you to everyone involved with the event for your commitment to the Nursery and to Yolo County’s most vulnerable children and their families.

It takes a village, and we cannot thank our volunteers enough, particularly Martha Bernauer, Sharon Schauer and Nancy Storm. The year-after-year growth of this sell-out event would not be possible without your leadership and tireless efforts. The Crab Feed is produced by the Friends of the Yolo Crisis Nursery Committee. We send heartfelt appreciation and a very special thanks to the entire Friends’ Committee for making the world a better place for the children of Yolo County.

On behalf of the board of directors, the nursery staff and the Friends of the Yolo Crisis Nursery, we would like to recognize and thank our Premier Sponsor Clark Pacific and King Crab Sponsors Jim and Lucinda Childress for their generosity and support.

Sincere thanks to our generous Dungeness Crab Sponsors Davis Firefighters Local #3494 and Davis Sunrise Rotary.

To our wonderful Blue Crab Sponsors: Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry; Bayer U.S. — Crop Science Vegetable Seeds; Brooks Painting; Boutin Jones Inc.; Carbahal & Company; Davisville Management Company; Mary and Harris Liu of Woodland McDonald’s; Marguerite Callahan; Nicole Davis of Edward Jones; Recology Davis; and the Vandermyden and Maddux Law Corporation — thank you.

Thank you to Collegiate Studios, Robin Dunbar, Lamppost Pizza, Nugget Markets, University Park Inn and Suites, and Upper Crust Bakery for your generous donations. And a very special thank you to our volunteers from the National Charity League and to our volunteer kitchen crew and traffic team. You were amazing. Charles King and Pacific Auction of Davis, we are extremely grateful for your expertise and assistance with our first-ever virtual SHELLebration.

Last but certainly not least, thank you to the numerous businesses, community groups, and individuals who donated items for our live and silent auctions. Your generosity was a critical piece to our success. Our community of small businesses always rallies to support those in need in our community, and we encourage you to shop local to support them.

If you are interested in helping the most vulnerable children and families in Yolo County, please consider joining the fun and fundraising for the Yolo Crisis Nursery by lending your time and talents to the Friends of the Yolo Crisis Nursery. Simply email friends@yolocrisisnursery.org. The Friends meet via Zoom on the second Tuesday of every month at 5:30 p.m. The rewards are priceless along with the laughter and warm community you’ll encounter in the Friends’ group.

Please visit our website, www.yolocrisisnursery.org, and subscribe to our e-newsletter to learn more about our upcoming events and to learn more about the nursery.


— This article originally appeared in the Davis Enterprise on Sunday, March 28, 2021, and was written by JoEllen Welsch, president, and Heather Sleuter, executive director, of the Yolo Crisis Nursery.

Crab season is here and what is better than the community feel of a good old-fashioned crab feed? One of my favorites has always been the Yolo Crisis Nursery Crab Feed hosted by the Friends of the Yolo Crisis Nursery. It is hands down the best crab of the season and a fantastic way to support the Yolo Crisis Nursery.

As with most events since the onset of COVID, the Yolo Crisis Nursery Crab Feed has gone virtual. To our delight tickets are selling quickly, so get yours soon to secure your delicious crab dinner. Each dinner includes delicious fresh crab, Caesar salad, pasta, roll and a cookie; order your dinner tickets at www.yolocrisisnursery.org.

To keep everyone safe and healthy, we are taking COVID-19 precautions and here is how it will all work: First, order your dinner online at www.yolocrisisnursery.org, then on Saturday, March 13, at your selected time between 4 and 6 p.m., drive through for a masked, contactless, dinner pick-up at the University Park Inn and Suites Conference Site, 1121 Richards Boulevard, in Davis. You can then return home to enjoy your dinner and favorite beverage at your leisure.

Following dinner, we invite you to join our entertaining virtual event from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. In addition to securing some really exciting auction items, the Friends of the Yolo Crisis Nursery have plenty of fun planned for the virtual event. Registration for the virtual event is complimentary and all are encouraged to pre-register via www.yolocrisisnursery.org. On March 8, 2021, the online silent auction will open, and you will be able to preview the live auction lots. Be sure to check out the impressive lineup so you can get your winning bid in!

As a recent addition to the Nursery’s Board of Directors, I share in the hope that our community will support this year’s virtual effort the same as it has our past in-person events. As always, all proceeds from the dinner and virtual event will support the Yolo Crisis Nursery. This has been an incredibly challenging year for the clients we serve, as well as for our dedicated staff who have seen a dramatic rise in the need for our services.

The Nursery is Yolo County’s beacon of hope for families with young children who are in crisis. It helps care for the children but also addresses the root causes of the crises to get families back on their feet and help them grow stronger together. Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the Yolo Crisis Nursery never turns a child away. Last year the Nursery served almost 700 Yolo County children and distributed over 2,700 care packages filled with essential items for families with young children in need.

Our community’s ability to help others in their time of need is one of the things I love most about Yolo County. Having lived and worked here all my life, I have seen and felt the compassion and generosity. As a former police officer now realtor, and dad to three amazing daughters, I am called to help others. As a community, I believe that positive and healthy childhoods are a cornerstone of our community’s compassion and success and that we need to look out for those who are struggling and lend them a helping hand.

We are so fortunate to have the Yolo Crisis Nursery in Yolo County. It is a unique and amazing resource, and I am honored to be the newest member of its Board of Directors. We are a volunteer board from diverse backgrounds and skill sets, but we are united in our dedication to the Nursery’s vision that every child in Yolo County grows up in a safe, loving, and stable home.

This past year has truly been like no other. With so many children and families in need, the Nursery needs your support now more than ever. I invite you to join me and my family for a good old-fashioned crab dinner and a much-needed night of virtual community fun to help children and families in need.

With your support, the Yolo Crisis Nursery can work with more families to adapt and overcome challenges. To learn more about the Yolo Crisis Nursery or to make a donation, please visit www.yolocrisisnursery.org.

— This article originally appeared in the Davis Enterprise on February 28, 2021 and is written by Jeremy Higgins, a member of the Yolo Crisis Nursery Board of Directors.

JoEllen Welsch – Davis Enterprise Letter to the Editor, published February 11, 2021

I have had the great honor and privilege of serving on the Yolo Crisis Nursery Board of Directors since January 2017. During my tenure, I have been continually impressed with the generosity of the Yolo County community in which I live, and since the onset of COVID, I am in absolute awe. In the past year, the Nursery has experienced a remarkable increased response to our outreach efforts to help us meet the surge in demand for our services. Our hearts are overflowing by the response and also for the unsolicited giving from a multitude of individuals, organizations, and institutions.

On an average day — pre-COVID — the children and families that we serve were already experiencing challenges involving domestic violence, mental and physical health emergencies, substance abuse and addiction, homelessness, sudden job loss, and other adversities. As you can imagine, every issue weighing on our client children and families has been exacerbated by the reverberating effects of the pandemic, and the number of referrals to the Nursery for critical assistance has substantially risen. Yolo Crisis Nursery is an essential provider for children and families whose situations went from urgent to potentially catastrophic with the arrival of COVID in our community.

Following strict safety mandates, the doors to the Nursery have remained open 24/7 to the infants and children who need us and to the families of essential workers with nowhere else to turn. COVID has taxed the Nursery’s staffing and resources like never before, but as our executive director, Heather Sleuter, frequently reminds me, “we figure it out” because we never say no and we never turn anyone away.

I am deeply proud of my compassionate community, and on behalf of our entire organization — our staff, volunteers, and Board of Directors—and from the children and families that we serve, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

JoEllen Welsch
President, Yolo Crisis Nursery Board of Directors

It is crab season in California, and that means the ninth annual Yolo Crisis Nursery Crab Feed is just around the corner! We’ve gone virtual this year and are planning an evening of food, fun, and fundraising on Saturday, March 13, 2021.

This year’s Yolo Crisis Nursery Crab Feed will be a virtual shell-ebration like no other! The Friends of the Yolo Crisis Nursery have successfully produced this event since 2013 and are committed to creating a memorable and one-of-a-kind experience again this year.

Each dinner includes delicious fresh crab, Caesar salad, pasta, roll, and a cookie. Here’s how it works: first order online at www.yolocrisisnursery.org/yolocrisisnurserycrabfeed/, then on Saturday, March 13, between 4 and 6 p.m., drive through for a masked, contactless, dinner pick-up at the University Park Inn and Suites Conference Site, 1121 Richards Boulevard, in Davis. You can then return home to enjoy your dinner and favorite beverage at your leisure, and then join the virtual event from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.

“Get ready for mouthwatering crab and a virtual event and auction that are sure to entertain.” says Yolo Crisis Nursery Board President JoEllen Welsch. “This past year has truly been like no other. The proceeds from our annual Crab Feed are an essential piece of the Nursery’s financial health and enable the Nursery to serve children and families in crisis. A successful crab feed will help the Nursery serve more of Yolo County’s at-risk children and their families.”

The live and silent auctions have a great lineup of items including one-of-a-kind art, golf outings, travel adventures, and tasty desserts. A live-auction preview and silent auction will open on March 8. Go to www.yolocrisisnursery.org/yolocrisisnurserycrabfeed/to learn more or to join our mailing list.

We are thrilled to announce that Clark Pacific is our premier sponsor. “We are honored to be the premier sponsor of the Crab Feed,” said Bob Clark, co-CEO Clark Pacific. “It is wonderful to partner with the Yolo Crisis Nursery as we share a passion for serving the youth of Yolo County.”

This event historically sells out well in advance, so don’t delay and get your tickets today. Individual tickets are only $50, and several levels of sponsorship are still available starting at $1,000. They can be purchased now at www.yolocrisisnursery.org/yolocrisisnurserycrabfeed/.

All Crab Feed proceeds go to the Yolo Crisis Nursery. The Nursery is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for children and families in turmoil. Our services are free of charge, and we never turn children away. The Nursery’s emergency respite care program is funded by the generosity of people like you.

The Yolo Crisis Nursery’s work is often best illustrated by our clients’ successes. Frank, a loving and hard-working father, found himself in crisis when Mary,his partner and mother of his 2-year old son, went missing. Mary suffers from mental illness, and for reasons unknown, she did not come home. Frank and his son, Jack, were devastated and suddenly alone, without a support network.

Prior to her departure, Mary cared for Jack while Frank worked full-time as a landscaper. With Mary gone, Frank was at a tipping point. He had no one to care for Jack and had used all his paid leave at work. If Frank stayed at home to care for Jack, he would lose his job and home.

Thankfully, Frank found the Yolo Crisis Nursery. Through the intake process our trauma-informed staff identified that Jack was autistic. The staff quickly coordinated additional medical screenings, check-ups, and initiated other critical services.

The Nursery also provided childcare for Jack, who was nurtured, fed nutritious meals, and enjoyed an enriching curriculum through the onsite preschool. Meanwhile, Frank was able to maintain his full-time employment, while working closely with Nursery’s staff to navigate his son’s diagnosis and his childcare crisis. With the Nursery’s help, Frank connected with community resources that helped him find long-term childcare and develop a support network of other parents.

Frank worked hard to build a new life for himself and Jack. This family is now thriving in fact, Frank was recently promoted to a managerial position at work.

Every child and family that the Yolo Crisis Nursery serves is unique, and each one is in crisis with little or no support system, and all are in need of aid. The Nursery keeps young, vulnerable children safe and helps their parents resolve their immediate crises. The Nursery continues to work with and follow families for one year to ensure that they successfully transition out of crisis, the children remain safe, and the family stays whole.

Please join us on March 13th for crab and fun to help at-risk Yolo County children avert disaster. To learn more about the Nursery or to donate, please visitwww.yolocrisisnursery.org

This article was written by Martha Bernauer and Nancy Storm, chairs of the 9th annual Yolo Crisis Nursery Crab Feed. It originally appeared in the Davis Enterprise on January 24, 2021

It has been over 10 months since the first COVID-19 case was diagnosed in Yolo County. In that time, much has been asked of all of us, from flexibility, bravery and resilience to fortitude, patience and austerity. At Yolo Crisis Nursery, we have also seen firsthand the even greater impact this time of uncertainty, grief and upheaval has had on our community’s most vulnerable young children and families.

Yet, today, even as we are called on to address worrying increases in domestic violence, homelessness, and mental health emergencies, it is not difficult to conjure a deep sense of gratitude, which comes from knowing that we at the Nursery are not meeting these challenges alone.

Recently, a former Yolo Crisis Nursery parent took the time to share this note: “We need caring and compassionate people more than anything, especially now. You are front line workers not just in this pandemic, but always, for every crisis. As a family who benefited directly from your compassionate work, and also just as fellow caring humans, we are forever grateful for and inspired by the strength, dedication, kindness, proficiency and understanding with which you provide crucial services to our community.”

I couldn’t agree more. Today, I am grateful for our staff at the nursery who have never wavered in their commitment to our mission. The work of protecting children from abuse and neglect requires building and maintaining supportive, trusting and empowering relationships with families. Every day our staff continues tirelessly to innovate and adapt to changing safety protocols, never losing sight of the importance of staying connected with the people we serve.

I am grateful for our Board of Directors and volunteers who have rallied in so many ways to guide and support the nursery through this unprecedented time. Their steadfast contributions of time, talent, and resources make it possible for us to respond nimbly to the evolving needs of vulnerable children and families.

I am grateful for our fellow nonprofits and service providers working diligently to collaborate in the best interest of children and families during a time of greatly increased need and decreased resources.

Many of the families we serve are essential workers facing health and safety hazards they never anticipated, while coping with serious hardships and childcare challenges as they struggle to make ends meet each month. I am grateful the Nursery can be a resource for families who contribute so much to our community.

Whether it is the gift of a warm coat, a care package of formula and diapers, or a safe stay for a child while a parent addresses hardship — we see and hear the gratitude and relief when a family in crisis understands that they are not alone.

In addition to gratitude, I look ahead to 2021 with a sense of hope. Just today, I learned that a single father, Frank, who came to us months ago on the brink of homelessness, has secured a job promotion and stable housing where he can safely raise his young son with autism. With the support of the Nursery and our collaborators, Frank can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. Stories like Frank’s and so many others help me see that light too.

As this challenging year comes to a close, and we look to 2021 with hope for health, happiness, and a return to some version of normal, I invite you to join us with an end of year gift to the Yolo Crisis Nursery to ensure that families, like Frank’s, see and feel the hope of the new year. To donate or learn more about the Yolo Crisis Nursery, please visit our website www.yolocrisisnursery.org.

— This article written by Heather Sleuter, executive director of the Yolo Crisis Nursery, originally appeared in the Davis Enterprise on December 27, 2020

November begins the holiday season — normally, a treasured time with family and friends. This year will undoubtedly look very different for us all. Even in years without the added stress of a pandemic, for many, the holidays are not always idyllic.

Increased loneliness, anxiety, sadness, and depression are common over the holidays. This year, it’s fair to say that most of us are looking for ways to overcome some degree of melancholy. Psychology research shows that giving and gratitude can help to lift spirits and are closely linked to increased happiness.

Giving Tuesday is an annual global day of generosity, perhaps, this year, ideally timed to help us feel empowered and impactful during a moment of uncertainty, fear, and loss.

Supporting the Yolo Crisis Nursery this Giving Tuesday, Dec. 1, will give hope to the most vulnerable children in Yolo County. Every family we serve is unique, with specific needs, but each is facing crisis and adversity and often has nowhere else to turn. Your donation can provide an overnight safe stay for a child, childcare essentials and caring support at the moment a family needs it the most. And this year, three amazing donors will double the impact of your gift, by matching dollar-for-dollar all donations up to $20,000!

Your gift to the Nursery will help families like Amanda’s break the cycle of crisis and become stronger together. Amanda, a mother of two, recently moved back to Yolo County after living out of state. Unable to find housing, she and her children moved into her mother’s home where they were exposed to domestic violence. Amanda shared that her mom had a long history of choosing “bad men” and that she herself had been exposed to domestic violence through much of her childhood.

When she met with a Yolo Crisis Nursery caseworker, Amanda was homeless, without a stable income, overwhelmed with her parental responsibilities, and trying to come to terms with the haunting domestic violence experiences of her own childhood. Amanda did not want her children to have the same exposure to violence that she experienced growing up. She reached out in hopes that the Nursery could provide the stability needed for her children to escape the violence in her mother’s home. Amanda was right, the Nursery not only provided respite care for the children, but also the opportunity for her to begin to heal and start anew.

Amanda is remarkably resilient, and she needed to rely on that strength as she began the hard work of starting over again. She engaged with the Nursery’s wrap-around services to participate in parenting classes, address legal issues, find housing, obtain professional training, and engage in counseling.

In less than a year, Amanda has made remarkable accomplishments. She is in stable permanent housing with her two children. Her oldest child is enrolled in school and distance learning at a before- and aftercare program, and her youngest child is now in care at the Yolo Crisis Nursery while Amanda works towards completing nursing school and achieving her goal of becoming a nurse.

Amanda’s commitment, in the face of adversity, to keep her children safe, healthy, and strong is remarkable. Her hard work and resilience will continue to help Amanda achieve her goal of breaking the cycle of violence in her family. All of us at the Nursery are so excited to witness this strong mother attain her goals and build a brighter future for her children.

Having been with the Yolo Crisis Nursery for almost 20 years now, I continue to be amazed at the gratitude of our client families and the generosity of our supporters. Day in and day out, our staff and client families are addressing unimaginable challenges. All too often, the Nursery’s wrap-around approach and services can mean the difference between life and death for the youngest and most vulnerable children in our community

I invite you to start your season of gratitude by giving to a family facing extraordinary challenges. Through your support, the Nursery can avert disaster with well-timed assistance and early intervention. Please join us by making your gift on Giving Tuesday, Dec. 1, to enact positive change in our community and in the lives of vulnerable children in Yolo County. To learn more about the Yolo Crisis Nursery or to make a donation, please visit www.yolocrisisnursery.org.


This article was written by Becky Heard and originally appeared in the Davis Enterprise on Sunday, November 22, 2020.

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

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.