When Jeremiah’s Place opens as the area’s first crisis nursery, “while it’s not going to be home, it’s going to be a very wonderful home away from home for these kids,” says its Executive Director LouAnn Ross.
For families in crisis – when the only parent needs sudden medical attention and no other family is available, or even when a parent feels he or she is unable to handle a situation without turning to violence – Jeremiah’s Place will be a refuge. It is set to open at the Kingsley Association building in East Liberty around March 15, and will take kids up to 6 years old for temporary daycare or even overnight – up to 72 hours.
The new facility can take care of 20 children in its daycare portion, with one space for infants, another for toddlers, “and a space for playing and creating and making a big ol’ mess,” says Ross. That space will house fun and educational toys, a wall to chalk on and a cozy corner for reading.
The overnight facility has three bedrooms for up to 12 kids and families with three or four kids can thus stay together, if needed.
The need to keep kids out of danger is real, says Ross, citing statistics showing that one child per week died as the result of child abuse in Pennsylvania in the 10 years ending with 2012, and that in in 2010, in Allegheny County, there were 1,500 reports of child abuse.
In a recent survey of families in the East End,” she adds “over 60 percent of caregivers indicated that they have trouble finding child care. [Some] of those caregivers admitted to leaving their children in high-risk situations, and 9 percent of parents indicated that their child was hurt or had big behavioral problems after these situations.
“Most importantly,” she says, “we know that children who are exposed to violence and adverse childhood events during their early childhood are at risk for later mental health disorders, substance abuse problems, as well as common medical illnesses including diabetes and heart disease.”
Families don’t need to be referred to the service, she emphasizes. “If you think for yourself that your need this help, please call us.” When Jeremiah’s Place opens, its number will be 412-924-0726.