Providence House can support up to 30 children at a time (20 children in Leo’s House, our traditional Crisis Nursery, and 10 children in Elisabeth’s House, our Pediatric Crisis Nursery for children with medical needs). Last year, we supported 323 children!
Children can stay at Providence House from 24 hours up to 60 days (with a 90 day option when a parent is in inpatient treatment, incarcerated, or medically incapacitated). Last year, our average length of stay was 24 days.
As a crisis nursery, we are licensed to only provide shelter and direct care to children. Parents reaching out to Providence House face a range of crisis situations which make them unable or unavailable to safely care for their children while they address their family’s needs. Often parents with children in our care are being admitted for their own inpatient medical, mental health or substance abuse services, or are incarcerated. The majority of homeless families supported by Providence House have been unable to find safe housing or shelters that can accommodate their children due to the limited number of family shelter and children’s beds available in our community.
We provide free, voluntary (non-custodial), emergency shelter and round-the-clock direct services to provide for each child’s basic needs. Our childcare staff and volunteers engage children in daily onsite activities and community field trips. Licensed Social Workers use developmental assessments to make sure children are at the appropriate developmental stage and use play-based approaches to build developmental skills. If children are showing significant delays, social workers connect families to agencies that can provide support long-term.
To see what a day in the life of a child at Providence House is like, visit our Gallery for photos and videos.
Yes! Our staff takes children to and from their home school, because we don’t want to interrupt those important educational and community connections while children stay with us. Last year we provided 1,680 trips to school!
Children from birth through 12 years old can stay at Providence House. When our social workers receive an inquiry from a family who has children over 12 years old, they work to connect them to other community resources that are a better fit for their family.
If a family needs support but we do not have immediate availability, the children are placed on our waiting list. Our licensed social workers try to find short-term, immediate supports to make sure the children are safe until they can be admitted into our crisis nursery and continue to check in with the family daily. Once there is an opening, our social workers review the waiting list, and try to ensure that families with the more severe crises are served first.
Each year, 20% to 30% of children served will be readmitted into our crisis nursery. Families trust Providence House to support them when they need help and may come back for help if their crisis escalates. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing! In a long-term outcome study families with multiple admissions of their children were no more likely to have foster care involvement than those with a single admission.
When children stay at Providence House, they may be frightened, confused, angry or upset that they aren’t with their mom or dad. Our staff knows it can be traumatic to be separated from their parent and we strive to provide a trauma-informed environment. We offer a consistent age-appropriate activity/sleep/eating schedule with special attention paid to transition times. We also teach the children ways to self-regulate, or to lower their own anxiety levels, often through activities that are sensory-based. Through these activities, and maintaining a warm, friendly environment at Providence House, we find the children tend to be a lot less sad than what you might expect.
Yes, throughout their child’s stay, parents are required to visit with their children at least two times a week. Visits that take place onsite may be supervised by social workers as part of our parent education program or take place in private rooms in the Family Center. If they are able, and it is a safe option, parents may take their children on day-long visits offsite and, after one week of engagement in our services, for up to two nights offsite per week. Many parents visit more often or call to speak with their children daily.
About 50% of the families that use our services self-refer, which means they may have heard from someone they trust that Providence House can help them. We also collaborate with over 100 organizations in our community to support families in crisis. We receive referrals from domestic violence shelters, homeless shelters, hospitals, drug treatment and mental health providers, and our local public child welfare department.
No. It is a myth that parents who bring their children to Providence House are “bad parents” who are looking for ways to skirt the system or dump their kids. When parents reach out for support, they are seeking wellness, stability, and safety for their children and themselves.
It is our goal that we can preserve each family that comes to Providence House. Last year 99% of the children we served were reunited with their parent or guardian. However, if a parent or guardian is not engaging in our program (completing required visits, participating in case management and parent education, etc.) and we have concerns about the safety of the children, our social workers will alert the Division of Child and Family Services to report our concerns.
Recognizing the need to support the increasing number of children coming into the care of DCFS, Providence House has begun a program to reserve four beds at all times for short-term emergency childcare while the county finds appropriate foster care or family placement for children. Providence House provides immediate protection and nurturing care in a trauma-informed, home-like environment for children who are removed from their homes and awaiting foster placement.
We are primarily funded by philanthropic contributions from individuals, foundations, companies, groups, schools, and faith communities. Last year, 15% of our funding came from the government, mostly at the state level.
We are unable to accept used items to help ensure the health and safety of the children in our crisis nurseries. We are grateful for the community support we receive, which allows us to provide each child a backpack with new clothes, hygiene products, a blanket, and a teddy bear when they arrive. Giving children new items helps to reinforce a sense of self-esteem and personal ownership and it helps us ensure that our crisis nursery is clean and hygienic. To view the items we need most right now, click here.
We are unable to accept donations of used car seats. Over time, the plastic on car seat parts can weaken and may not offer the same amount of protection as a new car seat. In addition, safety standards for car seats can change and older seats may be recalled for faulty designs. To ensure the safety of the children we care for and to comply with our own regulations, we cannot accept a used car seat.
Childcare volunteers must be at least 21 years of age, and be able to commit to a weekly volunteer shift of 2 or 3 hours. We follow these rules in accordance to our licensure and to support the safety of the children who stay at Providence House. Childcare volunteers are held to the same rigorous training and screening requirements as our paid childcare staff, and are monitored and evaluated regularly. We are grateful for the support of close to 60 trained volunteers that provide one-on-one interactions for children and help with all the cleaning and cooking that occurs in our crisis nurseries on a daily basis. Find out more.
Help support our mission to protect children, support families, and strengthen communities.