Gordon and Rhonda’s Moment

Crisis Nursery Services Logo

This year marks the 10th year that Bridges of Hope has been offering Crisis Nursery Services to the Brainerd Lakes Area. Yes, you read right–TEN YEARS! That’s a decade of giving parents a safe childcare option during a family crisis, which translates into thousands of children placed into the loving care of our selfless providers since the start of the program.

So what exactly is Crisis Nursery? It is a safe, positive childcare option for parents that have nowhere else to turn. There are Crisis Nurseries all around the state of Minnesota, and while they all operate a little bit differently, they also all have one thing in common: the goal to keep kids safe while providing stability to parents during a stressful time.

What defines a crisis? A crisis can be a single mom needing a break and not having friends or family who can provide her with that break. It can be a medical issue preventing a parent from caring for their children as they normally do. Or it can be work & medical related, like Gordon & Rhonda’s situation:

Gordon called one afternoon sounding extremely stressed; his voice full of concern. He explained to me that his wife Rhonda recently had had surgery, and during her recovery she had very limiting lifting restrictions. Gordon said that not only was Rhonda unable to do normal, routine tasks; she also wasn’t able to lift their ten-month-old son. Gordon said their family members had been helping out as much as possible, but there was a day coming up when he had to work and no other family members were available to help with childcare. Gordon said it was one of those family members that told him about the Crisis Nursery Services provided by Bridges of Hope.

Ames_3410 Gordon had already taken some time off work and if he missed another shift, he was afraid he would be suspended from his job, so he was wondering if the family could use Crisis Nursery for his ten-month-old son and three-year-old twin daughters while he was at work. Gordon explained that he only needed help for one day, as his mother was coming to stay with them for about a week until Rhonda had recovered enough for her doctor to lift her restrictions. I assured Gordon that this was an appropriate situation for Crisis Nursery Services; and after a few phone calls to various childcare providers, an available provider was located. Gordon let out a HUGE sigh of relief when I told him a provider was available to care for his children.

We always attempt to follow up with parents and providers after they’ve used the Crisis Nursery, to make sure everything went smoothly, see how they are doing, and to make sure the situation has been fully resolved. Almost 90% of parents surveyed report feeling less stressed, thanks to Crisis Nursery Services.This was certainly true for Gordon:

When I followed up with Gordon the day after using Crisis Nursery, he said he was so relieved that he didn’t have to miss another day of work, and he was able to focus at work knowing that his children were in good hands. Gordon said his daughters loved the childcare provider because she was kind, caring, and she had a dog! Gordon expressed his thanks one more time and said he knows where to turn if he is ever in an emergency situation like this again.

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If you or someone you know could benefit from more information about our Crisis Nursery Services, please call 218.825.7682 to speak with one of our Resource Specialists, or visit our website.

Want to help ensure these services remain available for those who need them? Make a donation today!

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Crisis Nursery to the Rescue!

Sally called Bridges of Hope, crying hysterically. She is the mother of three children: Jackie (age 7), Holly (age 5), and Tim (age 3). I had previously worked with Sally for several months through one of Bridges of Hope’s in-home programs,  which is why she asked to speak with me on this particular morning. Sally explained that her 5-year-old, Holly, had been taken to the emergency room the night before because she had been exhibiting very violent behavior toward her two siblings, and she also had begun inflicting self-harm, banging her head against the floor. Holly had been examined by the ER doctors and then transported to a mental health facility several hours away. Sally wanted to be able to go to the facility to stay near her daughter while she received treatment, but she did not have any friends or family member available to watch her children and had turned to Bridges because of our history of working together, hoping we might know of a local resource that could help her.

Crisis Nursery Services LogoI spoke with Sally about our Crisis Nursery program. The Crisis Nursery is a program available to connect families with short-term childcare by a licensed provider, during a family’s crisis, at no cost to them. Sally was so relieved that there was a service for her to utilize during her crisis. I was able to place Jackie and Tim with one of our amazing Crisis Nursery providers within one hour of Sally’s call.

Several days after the placement, Sally stopped by the Bridges of Hope office, asking to speak with me. Sally reported the children had LOVED the provider and had been able to roast marshmallows during their time in her care. Sally let me know that Holly had been released from the mental health facility a few days after arriving, and that she had been diagnosed with autism. Before leaving, Sally asked if she could give me a hug because she was so grateful for all the time and effort that was put into helping her in her time of need. I was happy to oblige, and even happier that Sally had been able to care for one of her children in crisis while not having to worry over the safety or comfort of the other two.

Dustin & Ashley’s Moment

Ashley and Dustin are a married couple with two children. The family has been struggling to make ends meet for quite a while. So often, when families live in poverty, it is extremely difficult to get ahead. For this family, and for many families living in poverty, the saying “when it rains it pours” was completely accurate.

Ashley contacted BridgHere_comes_rain_againes of Hope in April looking for help with rent. Neither Ashley nor Dustin had employment which means it is hard for agencies to assist because it is difficult to show that the rent is sustainable. I encouraged the couple to obtain employment and, once their situation changed and income increased, to call back.

Ashley called back, less than a month later: she and Dustin had both found jobs! They needed help with gas for their first week of work and also with childcare for their youngest child. Bridges of Hope was able to help with gas through our Spirit of Kindness Fund and with childcare through our Crisis Nursery Services. Ashley & Dustin were now able to complete their first week of work successfully!

Next, I had Ashley fill out a full intake so I could take a look at their whole situation. I discovered that the couple did not have car insurance; Ashley stated that the reason they didn’t pay the insurance was because, if they did, they wouldn’t have enough money to afford food for their family. I started to look outside the box to see what could be done to best help the family. It was decided that Bridges would get them caught up on car insurance to prevent any further crisis & expense that could come from driving without insurance.

Due to the hard work from this family, and the fact that they were willing to do each thing I had asked, Bridges of Hope helped them catch up on their past due rent. Now they were able to start fresh without any past due bills. The family was very thankful for all of the help they received and continue to work hard to provide for their family.

Thanks to the support we receive from local churches for our Spirit of Kindness Fund and our Resource Connection Services, we are able to help families like Dustin & Ashley’s with a fresh start.

You can support these services too by:

Thank you for helping us build Bridges!

Campaign Reaches $41,000–and Matching Funds Available!

BoH Fall Campaign -36K Mark

Thank you, thank you, and thank you again. If you have been a supporter to Bridges of Hope this year, you made a difference in the life of a family like Steven and Laura’s. We cannot thank you enough for your generosity.

As the year (and our Fall Campaign) draws to a close, we are excited to announce a brand-new development: the Thrivent Financial Foundation will match every new donation, up to $5,000!

We are thrilled to share this great new matching funds opportunity with you. If you have not yet had the opportunity to make a gift during this campaign, or if you are able to make an extra year-end gift, there is still time to help us reach our $60,000 goal by year-end. You can give online here, and double your impact for families across the Lakes Area (gifts may also be made by check; please note “Thrivent Match” in the memo line).

Here are just a few examples of how your support makes a difference:

  • Helping families gain access to basic needs items like food, clothing, hygiene items, and baby needs.
  • Helping families find and maintain safe, affordable housing.
  • Helping families stay warm during the winter months.
  • Helping families stay employed by removing transportation barriers.
  • Helping children stay safe by providing a childcare break for their parents.
  • Helping families stay together by providing services that prevent a crisis from becoming a catastrophe.

You can read more about our programs and services here.

Your support is what enables us to help families each and every day. Thank you, and Merry Christmas!

A Good Solution for Julie & Hanna

This year, Bridges of Hope added a new program to its continuum of services for families. Respite Services provides a regular break to parents or guardians of children with mental health or behavioral challenges. This is typically a scheduled break at the home of a respite care provider who has been selected by the parents.

But you might be thinking, wait a second–I thought Bridges of Hope already did this! It is true that we also administer Crisis Nursery Services, but there are some key differences between the two. Parents utilizing Respite have an ongoing plan to use the service–often utilizing it once a month, and/or at regular intervals throughout the year (to help provide a break for caregivers of a child with mental health or behavioral challenges). Crisis Nursery, on the other hand, is short-term childcare during an immediate family crisis situation, when there are no other safe alternatives for children.

An example of just such a Crisis Nursery situation is Kendra’s story, which you can read here.

In contrast to the more immediate nature of Crisis Nursery, Respite works this way:

11-Year Old Girl

Julie is a single mom, fairly new to the Brainerd Lakes Area. She contacted Bridges of Hope requesting assistance in establishing Respite Services for her 12-year-old daughter, Hanna. New to the area, Julie had no friends or family available to provide her–or Hanna–with a break. Julie explained that when Hanna was 2 years old, Julie became her Foster Care Provider, later adopting her when Hanna’s birth parents’ rights were terminated. Over the course of the next year, Hanna’s behavioral challenges became more pronounced, and she was eventually diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD).

At Bridges of Hope, the staff was able to provide Julie with a list of Respite providers who had availability work with new families. Julie connected with one of the providers and was able to meet them in their home to make sure it was a good fit for Hanna. After working with the Bridges staff on establishing how much Respite would be appropriate to meet Hanna’s needs, Julie and the provider were able to set up a regular schedule for Respite, and Hanna is currently receiving the service one day per month. Julie reports Respite has been a good solution for both herself and for Hanna.

As a single parent myself, I know through my own experience the importance of having someone reliable to call on in times of parenting stress, and I feel so blessed to have an extensive informal support system for the times when I need a break or have a childcare emergency. The reality for many families, however, is that this informal support system does not always exist. Kendra’s and Julie’s stories are both examples of the way Bridges of Hope helps bridge the gap for those parents who may not have many (or any) healthy, supportive adults in their lives to help care for their children in times of need or stress. Crisis Nursery and Respite Services help provide this critical relief for parents who are working hard to raise their children and who need just a little additional support to be successful.

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Take Action:
>>Learn more about becoming a Foster Parent (or contact your local county
for more information).
>>Learn more about adoption in Minnesota through MN Waiting Children.
>>Learn more about the importance of healthy, early-childhood attachment.

Kendra’s Moment

Kendra was out of options. She had moved into an apartment in the Lakes Area after leaving her home community–and having to sever all her ties to friends and family–due to a domestic violence situation. She had fled shortly after learning she was pregnant with her third child and had since found a part-time job, established regular childcare, joined a parenting support group, and was on her way to mapping out a new life. But finding new friendships in a new community was happening slower than she thought it would; and now, nine months pregnant, there were times Kendra still felt very much alone in the world.

And then one day, on a Thursday afternoon, she went into labor.

Baby Boy

Image by Clare Bloomfield: http://bit.ly/clareportfolio

About a half-hour before closing time, Bridges of Hope received a phone call from Mary, a social worker at a local hospital. Mary explained that she had been called in by Kendra’s nurses, because Kendra had recently been admitted and was in active labor–but her two other children, ages 2 and 4, were there with her. Mary had learned that when the labor started, Kendra tried calling a few acquaintances from the parenting group, but no one was available, and not knowing what else she could do, Kendra brought her kids with her.

This was a perfect situation for Crisis Nursery. The Bridges of Hope staff spoke with Kendra over the phone and explained how the program works. She then began calling our trained Crisis Nursery providers and quickly located an available provider who could pick up the children from the hospital–all within twenty minutes of Mary’s phone call. The children would be cared for in Crisis Nursery for 48 hours until Kendra could leave the hospital, putting both Mary and Kendra at ease. Two days later, Kendra brought her new baby boy home to meet his older siblings.

Crisis Nursery Services Logo

Crisis Nursery Services

Crisis Nursery is a free, short-term childcare option for parents of children ages 0-12 when there are no other available childcare resources. This program is funded by a grant from the Children’s Trust Fund and is a partnership between Bridges and Crow Wing County Community Services. The Crisis Nursery has more funding available in 2011 than it did in 2010; if you or someone you know is in a childcare crisis, please call Bridges of Hope at 218.825.7682 and speak to a Family Service Worker about your situation or click here for additional details.

Rochelle’s Moment

RachealRochelle is a single mom of three boys, ages one, two and four. She called Bridges of Hope after hitting rock bottom mentally and emotionally. She had ended up at a local shelter after fleeing from years of abuse at the hands of her husband, who was in another state. Rochelle knew her decision to leave her husband was the right one, but it was still hard for her. She had been suffering from depression for years; and now, homeless and facing the daunting task of being a single parent to three children all under the age of five, she was feeling tremendously stressed and overwhelmed.

That’s when Rochelle called Bridges of Hope, explaining to the staff that she knew she needed to get her mental health under control before she could even begin to rebuild her life. Bridges of Hope was able to find a counselor who specialized in parenting and stress management as well as with survivors of domestic violence. Rochelle was set up with an immediate counseling appointment, and the Bridges staff simultaneously set up Crisis Nursery childcare for the children, so Rochelle could attend the appointment.

After her initial appointment, a Bridges staff followed up with Rochelle, who reported that the counseling appointment went really well and that she planned to continue to see the counselor. Bridges of Hope was able to set up Crisis Nursery a few more times during Rochelle’s subsequent counseling appointments; and now, a few months later, Rochelle has been able to move into her own place and has gotten a job at local retailer. She has been able to set up regular childcare and continues to move forward with her mental health.

Are you or someone you care about looking for the same kind of support that Rochelle needed? Bridges of Hope maintains a comprehensive database of our area therapists and their specialties. Click here to learn more.