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!

Tools of the Trade

This past summer, Bridges of Hope hosted an excellent community training for those of us working in the “helping profession,” called Healing the Heart of the Healer presented by Chris Henley, MS, Licensed Psychologist. Chris says everyone is “hard- wired” for empathy, and as a result, we can be pulled in to another’s feelings by the work we do or the circumstances we experience in our life. We can become so focused on the other person’s feelings that we forget ourselves and the state of our own body and mind.  Chris teaches that when we learn to identify our own signs of hyperarousal, we can calm both ourselves and the other person too. Signs of hyperarousal can include an increased heart rate, increased respiration, a sense of not thinking clearly, sweating, and high blood pressure.

One of the lasting concepts that Chris shared that day was that we–those of us whose work is primarily focused on helping others–are the tools of our trade, so we need to take care of ourselves. She impressed on us the importance of maintaining our overall well-being and balance while continuing to facilitate our clients’ healing. The training also gave us several hands-on techniques to use when we are feeling stressed or fatigued, which are easy for anyone to use. If you experience a stress-filled situation or conversation, it’s time to “put on the brakes” mentally and begin to become aware of yourself and surroundings. Here’s how to do that:

1. BREATHE: Breathing is key. Take three slow deep breaths, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.

2. RUB AND SHAKE: Rub the palms of your hands together quickly for three to five seconds to create heat, and then shake your hands to get rid of the energy. This helps clear your mind and release stress.

3. CHANGE YOUR POSITION: If you feel yourself being “pulled in” to the other person’s experience, deliberately change your body’s position by crossing your legs,  picking up you pen, or diverting your eyes.

The take-home message of the workshop was we need to be aware–aware that we’re hardwired for empathy, and aware that we can “catch” each other’s emotions. Once we’re able to identify our body’s signs of hyperarousal, we can practice ways to deactivate some of the stress and can maintain a healthier sense of well-being. If you start with the simple techniques described above, you will be taking the first steps to healing your own heart.

Other Self-Care Resources:

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.