SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio city staff is exploring what it would take for the community to support a crisis nursery program.
District 4 City Councilwoman Adriana Rocha Garcia said due to the high amount of domestic violence incidents in San Antonio, parents and guardians could benefit from a temporary safe haven for children.
“Anytime we see that, especially in domestic violence situations, there might not be family members around where you can drop off a child with,” Garcia said.
A crisis nursery would serve guardians and parents for a few days until they can deal with the emotionally charged situation. A crisis nursery is also designed to intervene in moments where children could be put in harms way. Parents will have the freedom to pick up their children when they’re ready.
Natalie Leek, CEO of the Providence House in Cleveland, said any help a community can offer children is a win for families.
“What crisis nurseries provide is that voluntary choice for families to bring their children somewhere safe,” she said.
The Providence House’s Family Preservation Crisis Nursery has 30 beds and serves over 300 children each year. Leek estimates they save the county around $10 million a year in foster care costs by keeping families together.
“We do intensive services with the parent or guardian while the child stays with us, but it gives that parent the time to focus 100% on moving through those crisis situations, knowing their children are safe in a licensed setting and they’re receiving 24-hour care,” she said.
Leek said the challenge is finding public funding for a crisis nursery, although she said the programs save tax money in the long run.
Enrique Davila, CEO of the Child Crisis Center of El Paso, said the center gives parents three days of respite care for their children. Davila said some families still have trust issues leaving their children at the center.
“I don’t know if it’s a trust factor or a lot of people fear that if they bring them in, we’re going to call CPS, and we don’t. It’s all confidential. No one finds out. So, we’re still offering it and we still advertise it,” Davila said.