The Yolo Crisis Nursery: Offering Families a Well-timed Helping Hand

Marie, a young single mother, was due to work the night shift and was without care for her 22-month-old son. Marie relied on a friend to watch her son at night, but at the last minute, her friend backed out. With her shift about to start and no one to care for her son, Marie was frantic and faced with a difficult choice – until someone suggested the Yolo Crisis Nursery.

The nursery responded immediately by picking up the child and caring for him for several nights. Marie worked with the Nursery’s team to find regular overnight childcare. With a little help, the crisis was averted. Marie was able to keep her job, her home, and most importantly, ensure her son was safe.

As I reflect back on my near two-year term on the Board of Directors and look forward to my upcoming term as Vice-President of the Yolo Crisis Nursery, I can’t help but reflect back on why I chose it. My reasons are many, but can all be encapsulated by the story of Marie and her 22 month-old son.

Unfortunately, Marie’s story is not uncommon. In Yolo County, roughly 20 percent of our community lives below the poverty level. Many families are facing dire challenges, labor under high levels of stress, and function without a support network.

Who bears the brunt of these crises? Most often it is the youngest and most vulnerable members of our community, children from birth to age 5. The levels of abuse and neglect correspond with high levels of family stress. California has the highest incidence of abuse and neglect in the country. Closer to home, Yolo County’s rate of abuse and neglect has historically been comparable to or higher than the state for children ages birth to 5 years.

The Yolo Crisis Nursery is here to help. We serve young children up to age five and their families. The nursery offers wrap-around services to keep families together, help them navigate crises, and prevent child abuse and neglect.

Yolo Crisis Nursery offers voluntary and free, nurturing childcare for ages birth through 5 years, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Equally important, Yolo Crisis Nursery’s wrap-around services help parents resolve the problems that brought them to our door. The nursery strives to preserve families. Families that stay whole become stronger. Children are less likely to become troubled teens. The cycle is broken.

Since opening its doors in 2001, the Yolo Crisis Nursery has served approximately 4,000 children with a 98% success rate of keeping children out of the child welfare system. Over the past year the Nursery served 47% more children and 13% more families than the previous year.  Last year a child entered the nursery doors 2,549 times for crisis nursery respite services. 54% of these children were from families at risk of or experiencing homelessness, and 64% of these children might have been at risk of domestic violence.

Every family the Yolo Crisis Nursery serves is different, but each one is in crisis, and all in need of aid with little or no support systems. The nursery keeps their young, vulnerable children safe and helps the parents resolve their immediate crises. And they continue to work with and follow families for a year to ensure that the family successfully transitions out of the crisis, the children remain safe, and the family stays whole.

Marie’s story reminds us that with a little help at just the right moment, families can avert crises. Rather than free-falling, they turn towards a more promising future. The Yolo Crisis Nursery works to empower families, so they and their children can thrive.

The Yolo Crisis Nursery has changed my life in countless ways not only by being a Board member, but also as an active supporter and donor.  If you, too, would like to help a Yolo County family at just the right moment, please consider donating today. The Yolo Crisis Nursery could not survive without the generosity of our community, and we are grateful for your support. Please visit to learn more, get involved, and give to the Yolo Crisis Nursery.


This article was written by JoEllen Welsch, Vice President-Elect, Yolo Crisis Nursery Board of Directors. It was originally published in the September 23, 2018 issue of the Davis Enterprise. 


Sara is a young, pregnant, single mom who didn’t know where to start. There were so many wolves at the door and she had no clue as to which one to take on first, or even if any of them could be driven away.

Her toddler son had just been removed from another childcare center due to behavioral challenges. Without childcare, Sara was on the brink of losing her job, which meant the family would be evicted from their apartment and forced to live on the streets. It seemed she had nowhere to turn.

Then Sara walked through the door at Empower Yolo. Because there was a young child involved, the counselor steered her to the onsite Yolo Crisis Nursery mobile client navigator. The navigator arranged for transportation to the nursery.

The entire staff at the Yolo Crisis Nursery are trauma-informed care trained. They quickly recognized that Sara’s son had suffered “ACEs” (adverse childhood experiences) requiring prompt intervention. ACEs is a polite way of saying the boy had been through some rough times during his important formative early years. The consequences could negatively impact him for the rest of his life.

Sara had been right there with him through it all, so her emotional stability was at risk, too. The nursery staff immediately began working with both mother and child to get them on the road to recovery.

Like loving arms, the nursery’s wraparound services kicked in to help this family. There are a multitude of resources available for families in need, but it is a daunting task to chase them down individually. Nursery staff sorted through all the local programs to direct Sara to the relevant ones and then made multiple referrals to a carefully curated list of partners:

STEAC – For the past 50 years, the Short-Term Emergency Aid Committee in Davis has provided immediate, emergency aid to low income families living in Yolo County, including help with food, housing rental, utilities and job readiness.

Cal Fresh – This federally mandated Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is supervised by the State of California and administered by Yolo County Health and Human Services. It provides monthly benefits to help low-income households purchase healthy and nutritious food.

Help Me Grow – A national program that unites a local community around its children by addressing the need for early identification of behavioral and developmental challenges. The Yolo County office is funded by First 5 Yolo and Yolo County Health and Human Services. Free developmental screenings are available to identify areas of concern, and then provide information and connections to community-based resources.

Child Care Subsidy – A Yolo County Health and Human Services CalWORKs program, which is administered by Yolo County Children’s Alliance. It helps low income parents who need childcare in order to work or attend school.

WIC – Women, Infants & Children is also administered by Yolo County Health and Human Services. This program provides supplemental food, nutrition education, and breast-feeding support.

Thanks to help from the Yolo Crisis Nursery, Sara was able to care for her son and keep both her job and home while working through this difficult time. The nursery helped Sara find long-term childcare for her son and is working with the boy’s new preschool on how to meet his behavioral needs. Sara is preparing to welcome her second baby into a community that is willing to do whatever it takes to help every child grow up in a safe, loving, and stable home.

We may call it a nursery, but it is oh, so much more. Simply put, the Yolo Crisis Nursery specializes in chasing the wolves away.

Yolo Crisis Nursery depends on the love and generosity of our community to help families, like Sara’s, successfully navigate a crisis. To learn more, to help, or to donate, please visit our website

This article written by J.D. Denton, member of Yolo Crisis Nursery Board of Directors, was published in the Davis Enterprise on Sunday, August 26, 2018