Pittsburgh's first crisis nursery,
, is on track to open in 2013 as a way for families with the youngest children to find relief when their lives give them with nowhere else to turn.
Jeremiah's Place, which is still looking for a home, will offer respite care for kids up to 6 years old. Parents may drop off children without notice to relieve the severe stresses life gives to too many families: homelessness, job loss, or merely a single night when the mother is too ill, or delivering another child, and has nowhere safe and trustworthy to leave her other children.
"We have made some great strides," reports spokesperson Eileen Sharbaugh, part of the 22-person team organizing this effort, founded by Dr. Lynne Williams of East Liberty Family Health Care Center and Dr. Tammy Murdock of the Family Life Fund of the Children’s Hospital Foundation. Team members have met with other local nonprofits that work with children and parents, gathering more support, as well as county officials in the County's Office of Children, Youth and Families and area foundations.
All have been encouraging to their effort, Sharbaugh says, which is designed to take away one of the major risk factors for child abuse: "Parents really are trying to do their very best but sometimes the odds are so far against them. We're offering them something that is truly preventative. When the parent thinks they are about to lose it, there is somebody who will be there, in a very nonjudgmental way, to relieve their stress."
At the suggestion of the Forbes Foundation, the group has shifted their focus from buying a potential location to teaming with other local nonprofits with a similar clientele, where Jeremiah's Place could rent space for a pilot program of 18 to 24 months. In the meantime, they are conducting a public awareness campaign and holding initial fundraisers. The first has been dubbed "The Art of Love!"?
Set for 5:30 to 9 p.m. on Dec. 13 at the Pittsburgh Public Market (on Smallman between 16th and 17th streets in the Strip), it will offer art for sale that counters the negative images children are exposed to every day. Twenty-seven pieces by 24 artists -- weavings, photos, oils, acrylics, jewelry and others -- valued at $20-300 will be on sale, along with raffle items. As a bonus, some of the regular Public Market booths will stay open for the event.
For National Child Abuse Awareness Month next April, Jeremiah's Place has already scheduled a 5K run through North Park on April 27, 2013.
Looking for even more ways to help parents and kids? Aid them through the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh
or UPMC’s Re:solve Crisis Network.
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Eileen Sharbaugh, Jeremiah's Place