Yolo Crisis Nursery: A History From One Who Was There

The Yolo Crisis Nursery began serving children ages birth to five years old and their families in 2001. Since then, the Nursery has continuously provided early intervention services in a safe environment to nurture healthy and resilient children, strengthen parents and preserve families.

From 2001 until early 2014, the nursery operated under a parent nonprofit agency. Yolo Crisis Nursery executive director Heather Sleuter recalls receiving the news that the nursery would close in 30 days and our parent agency would leave Yolo County. “We had just bundled up the last of 12 children to leave for the day with parents and guardians. Two children would spend the night with our staff as their parents got immediate help. I thought, what will happen to these children — and all the children who need the nursery’s care — if we close?”

The departure of our host agency from Yolo County in 2014 created a crisis. The nursery was facing closure. A group of volunteers who had been formed years earlier for fundraising assistance to the Nursery — The Friends of the Yolo Crisis Nursery — immediately began to search for a licensed host agency to take over the Yolo Crisis Nursery operations. For a variety of reasons, one was not found.

With the 30 days’ notice of closure, the majority of grants that had funded the nursery were terminated. There was no more agency, no more money and no more time. The clock was ticking. And then, the angels arrived and brought with them the miracles that are now legendary.

Heidy Kellison, president of the Friends, boldly negotiated a continuation of the Yolo Crisis Nursery operations with private funding while a nonprofit corporation was formed, licensed and became a public 501(c)(3) charity. The Yolo Crisis Nursery now had 90 days to remain open while securing funding for the interim operation of the nursery and a full fiscal year of funding for operations totaling almost $400,000. Heidy returned to Friends of the Yolo Crisis Nursery with a three-month clock, determination and enduring hope.  She is my hero.

Yolo Crisis Nursery Inc., was formed with a board of directors consisting of Becky Heard, as chair, Kellison, Liz Malinoff, Trish Bosco and myself. On behalf of the new corporation, I submitted an application for 501 (c) (3) status, and Heather Sleuter, completed all of the licensing applications. Yolo County Children’s Alliance acted as the interim public charity on behalf of the new corporation.

With the 90 days quickly racing by, the newly formed board immediately hired Cam Stoufer to help replace the terminated grants with new funding streams. Cam’s efforts yielded immediate dividends and continued throughout her six years of service. While Cam applied for grant funding, the newly formed Board and the Friends of the Yolo Crisis Nursery were feverishly fundraising to save the nursery.

The Yolo Crisis Nursery is open today because of the generosity of Yolo County citizens, businesses and organizations, as well as our families and friends nationwide. All are connected by our shared belief that every child deserves to grow up in a safe, loving, and stable home. The redemption story of these times is for a different forum than this article, but the angles ranged from bakes sales to large monetary donations.

In those 90 days, contributions from family and friends, and the Yolo community of individuals, clubs, churches, and others, as well as grants, totaled $364,000! At the risk of forgetting someone, I will not attempt to enumerate the many contributors of time, talent and treasure. But, for the sake of deservedness, I must give credit to Yolo County Supervisor Jim Provenza for his advocacy during this perilous time.  His commitment and passion for the mission and community need of the Yolo Crisis Nursery became the cornerstone of our successful fundraising efforts.

In 2015, the newly licensed, nonprofit corporation Yolo Crisis Nursery Inc. began standalone activity. Sleuter was named executive director and has continued in that capacity to this day. In our first full year as an independent nonprofit, we served 129 children. Last year, we served 692 children. We serve at-risk children ages birth to 5 years old and their families as an upstream investment in the future of our community.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought new challenges to the nursery. The Yolo Crisis Nursery is an essential service and has remained open during the stay-at-home orders. “Over six months into the pandemic, we have more families than ever in crisis. We are seeing increases in clients experiencing domestic violence, homelessness, and postpartum depression,” Sleuter said. “In addition, we are helping essential workers with young children and distributing record numbers of care packages in our community. The need has never been greater.”

As it has since 2001, the Nursery has remained open, serving a population under great stress. These families are hit hardest by the pandemic and are struggling with homelessness, unemployment, isolation, and uncertainty. I invite you to support the Nursery and the children they serve with your time, talents, or a donation. To learn more please visit www.yolocrisisnursery.org. We are community.

This article was written by Vic Bucher and originally appeared in the Davis Enterprise on Sunday, October 25, 2020.

It is crab season in California and that means the Annual “Krustaceans for Kids” Crab Feed benefitting the Yolo Crisis Nursery is just around the corner! The fun, food, and yes, fundraising is set to begin on Saturday, March 7, at 5:30 p.m. at the Woodland Senior and Community Center.

Krustaceans for Kids is an extraordinary crab feed! Volunteer servers will keep your table well-stocked with buckets of delicious, crab, pasta with red sauce, Caesar salad, and delicious bread. It is all-you-can-eat, so come hungry. Beer, wine, and soft drinks will also be available throughout the event at conveniently located no-host bars.

“We’ve had a sell-out crowd for the past few years. Over 500 people attended last year’s Krustaceans for Kids,” said Yolo Crisis Nursery board president JoEllen Welsch. “A successful crab feed again this year will really help keep the nursery financially healthy so that we can continue to serve Yolo County’s at-risk children and their families.”

The Friends of the Yolo Crisis Nursery has successfully produced this event since 2013, and we are working hard to make sure this year’s crab feed is the best yet. The fun doesn’t end with sumptuous all-you-can-eat food, as the ever-popular giant Raffle and the Live and Silent Auctions will return again with a great line-up of items including a tasty array of homemade desserts.

We are thrilled to have Sutter Health returning as our Premier Sponsor. This type of dedicated support from our community is critical in helping us achieve our vision that every child in Yolo County grows up in a safe, loving, and stable home.

Last year’s event sold out well in advance, so don’t delay. 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.

All Krustaceans for Kids Crab Feed proceeds goes 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 do not turn away any children. The Nursery’s emergency respite care program is funded by the generosity of our community.

Every child and family the Yolo Crisis Nursery serves is different, but each one is in crisis with little or no support system and all in need of aid. The Nursery keeps young, vulnerable children safe and helps the 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, such as the case of Sara and her son, Alex.

Sara, a young, pregnant, single, working mom, was on the brink of losing her job because she did not have childcare for her toddler son, Alex. Both of them had suffered abuse. At 4 years of age, Alex had behavioral challenges as a result of the abuse and had been removed from multiple childcare centers.

Sara was proud to be newly on her own with Alex and with a new baby on the way. The thought of losing her job, home and ability to care for her young family was overwhelming and devastating to Sara. Thanks to help from the Yolo Crisis Nursery, Sara was able to keep both her job and home, while helping Alex with behavior modification therapy. We may call it a nursery, but it is oh, so much more.

Please join us on March 7 for all-you-can-eat crab and fun to help our most vulnerable, at-risk Yolo County children, like Alex, avert disaster. Interested in joining the Friends of The Yolo Crisis Nursery? Please email friends@yolocrisisnursery.org. To learn more about the Nursery or to donate, please visit www.yolocrisisnursery.org

— This article was written by Martha Bernauer and Nancy Storm, co-chairs of the eighth annual Krustacean for Kids Crab Feed benefiting the Yolo Crisis Nursery. The article first appeared in the Davis Enterprise on Sunday, January 26, 2020.