October 12, 2023

Yolo Crisis Nursery breaks ground on new facility in Davis

Every child in Yolo County deserves to grow up in a safe, loving and stable home. This is the vision of Yolo Crisis Nursery, which has been in operation since 2001. 

On Thursday, Yolo Crisis Nursery broke ground on a brand new 8,800 square-foot building in Davis, set to open in the Spring of 2025. The new facility is located on a one-acre parcel of land donated by Blue Bus, LP.

Dignitaries from across Yolo County, Yolo Crisis Nursery supporters and donors all congregated under a large white tent decorated with balloon arches to celebrate all the hard work and people it took to get to this pivotal moment. 

“The most recent data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in seven children experienced child abuse and neglect in the past year,” Yolo Crisis Nursery Board President Jennifer Thayer told the crowd. “Yolo County is not immune to the damaging effects of child abuse. The magic that happens inside Yolo Crisis Nursery is unimaginable for family transformations.”

Last year the Yolo Crisis Nursery served 1,041 children and their families. 97% of families referred to the Yolo Crisis Nursery in 2022 by Child Welfare Services did not have their child removed. The nursery also distributed 5,212 care packages filled with essentials like diapers, wipes, formula, food, clothing and gas cards. 

With the new facility, these numbers will be able to rise even higher. According to Brighter Tomorrows Campaign Chair Jane Eadie, $9.5 million was raised to support the construction of the new Yolo Crisis Nursery. This new building will be able to serve triple the capacity of the nursery’s current dwelling. 

$2.5 million was donated by the Yoche Dehe Wintun Nation. Other donations and funding came from personal donations, the City of Davis, County of Yolo, State of California, Sutter Health and numerous foundations across the county. 

One of the nursery’s biggest supporters, California State Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Cecilia Aguiar-Curry spoke through tears while addressing the standing room only crowd.

“So many lives will be changed here,” said Aguiar-Curry. “Teaching people how to be mommies and daddies. Making sure that children are taken care of. These are things that we should all be focused on. This is hope. This will be a role model for not only the entire state of California but probably the nation”

$1 million in state funding was secured with Aguiar-Curry’s help. 

The Yolo County Board of Supervisors was also instrumental in securing county funding for the project through rescue act funds. Chair Oscar Villegas and Supervisor Jim Provenza both spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony. 

Villegas spoke about Yolo Crisis Nursery almost closing its doors in 2014 and the determination it took almost 10 years ago to keep the nursery in operation. 

“Dreams really can come true,” remarked Provenza. “In 2014 I never could have envisioned standing here today building this beautiful new center with enough room for the programming. Every child who has a need will be served.”

Yolo Crisis Nursery Executive Director Heather Sleuter was perhaps the most emotional about the significance of the momentous groundbreaking, saying she had goosebumps as she got up to the podium to speak. 

“Our mission is to provide early intervention services in a safe environment to nurture healthy, resilient children, strengthen parents and preserve families,” said Sleuter. “We don’t say no to anybody.”

Sleuter invited two survivors who were helped back on their feet by the nursery to speak. It was asked that their identities be kept confidential. 

According to Sleuter, since its inception, the Yolo Crisis Nursery’s early intervention has prevented the entry of thousands of children into the foster care system. 

“The new larger, more modern home for the nursery will increase our services with dedicated space for screenings, assessments, targeted therapy, parenting training classes, wraparound services, counseling and therapeutic supervised visitations,” she said. “We will also create a better environment for learning for the children at the nursery with larger space for the preschool, learning gardens and outdoor play areas. Most importantly, the nursery’s new home will be a safe and secure place for children to heal, grow and thrive. ”

Donned in their fashionable white hard hats, dignitaries, donors and Yolo Crisis Nursey staff and board members pushed their shovels into a large pile of dirt to close out the event, signifying a new beginning of hope and resilience for so many future Yolo County children and their families.