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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It Shouldn’t Hurt to be a Child

radiothon logoEach December, BL Broadcasting collaborates with local Child Protection Teams in our area to bring awareness to and raise funds for Child Abuse Prevention. The public service announcements during the on-air event state, “It shouldn’t hurt to be a child.” How true.

Child abuse is difficult to think about, but we need to think about it and we need to create a community where parents are supported and children are nurtured.

April is Child Abuse Prevention month, another time of year to bring awareness to the struggles parents and children in our community are facing. It’s a time to shine a light on the good work being done to strengthen families.

Here at Bridges of Hope, we are proud to partner with Crow Wing County in a state-wide program called Parent Support Outreach Program (PSOP). This is a voluntary program for families to engage in when the want to stabilize their struggles with basic needs and strengthen their parenting skills. Click here to read about how the PSOP program helped Cindy and her family.

biracial childrenAnother service in our community that aims to support parents and reduce child abuse & neglect is Crisis Nursery Services, which is free, short-term crisis childcare for children 0-12 in Crow Wing County and the surrounding areas. The goal of the Crisis Nursery is to provide a safe place for children during a family crisis like Kendra & her children experienced.

Crisis Nursery is made possible through the Crow Wing County Child Protection Team with funds that YOU donate during the Radiothon to End Child Abuse. THANK YOU!

As community members, there are many things we can do to support families around us. Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota makes the following suggestions about what to do if you see a parent who is “on edge” in public:

  • Divert the adult’s attention.
  • Start a conversation with the adult. Offer sympathy. For example, you could say, “Shopping with children can really try your patience, can’t it?” Talk to the child.
  • If the child is acting out or misbehaving, start a friendly conversation to distract him or her.
  • Praise the parent or child.
  • Find something positive to say about the child or the parent. For example, “That’s a pretty dress your daughter is wearing. Where did you get it?”
  • Offer to help.
  • For example, if a child has been left unattended in a grocery cart, stay near him or her until a caretaker returns.
  • Avoid negative looks or comments.This may only increase the adult’s anger, making things worse for the child.

There are many preventative efforts happening in our community, however it is important to state that if you suspect a child is being abused or neglected in our area, you should contact Crow Wing County Social Services at 218-824-1140. 

In honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month, please take a moment to enrich the life of a child in your life and support the parents around you. It really does take a village to raise a child!

Pinwheel for Prevention

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!

The All-Time Top Eleven Quotes from our Clients

Thank-You Card

Since our founding, Bridges of Hope has built-in a specific follow-up component to our services. We have two main reasons for doing this. First, we want to make sure that the resources, programs and ideas we suggested actually helped someone resolve their crisis–because that’s why we exist! Second, and equally as important, we want to know whenever those resources, programs, and ideas didn’t work for someone–so we can do a better job matching a person’s unique situation to the right resources the next time around.

Because of our commitment to following up, our staff spend some of their time every week making follow-up phone calls to those we have recently worked with. A side benefit to making these phone calls is that many of our clients say some really kind things to us, and a few years ago, we decided it might be a good idea to write them down!

So here you can see the all-time top eleven quotes from our clients, as voted on by our staff.

Some are funny, some are a little quirky, most inspire us to continue our work, and all of them are incredibly gracious and kind:

Number 11: Bridges was beyond wonderful. I wish I would have known about this program 6 years ago.

Number 10: I can’t believe how nice your thrift store is!

Number 9: Usually Bridges is pretty good. The way I look at it is that it just isn’t meant to be this time.

Number 8: I called for Crisis Nursery at 9:00 AM and got to work by 10:00!

Number 7: I so appreciate you! You are a lifesaver. I can’t say excellent enough! I don’t know what I would have done without you!

Number 6: Because of Bridges of Hope, I feel like I have more support in the Brainerd community.

Number 5: You guys rock. I have tears in my eyes. I was so worried about my kids.

Number 4: My opinion of Bridges has just changed, because you made this follow-up call to see how we were doing.

Number 3: I was so distraught and worried when I called Bridges of Hope. When I got off the phone I prayed, and then a sense of calm came over me. I feel that Bridges was the answer to my prayers. Thank you.

Number 2: I am so grateful that you helped me! I had no other way to get my car fixed. Thank God for Bridges of Hope and people like you!

And our nearly unanimous favorite:

Number 1: I wouldn’t have made it through without all the help. You were the “bridge” to my hope!

Honestly, there is truly no higher source of praise. An enormous thanks is due to those we serve for their generous words.

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Do you know someone who is struggling? Someone working through a family or parenting crisis? Someone could use our help navigating area resources? Visit our website for more information or have them call Bridges of Hope today: 218.825.7682.

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.