Gentle Transitions Gives Back! Part 3 – Crisis Nursery


Continuing with our focus on organizations that help support mothers and families, this week we are delighted to shine a spotlight on Champaign-Urbana’s very own Crisis Nursery! They provide invaluable and much needed services to families of all kinds in our area. I spent some time talking with Ann Ambrose, one of the Beyond Blue Family Specialists this past week to get a more detailed look at what services Crisis Nursery provides and how we, as a community, can help further their mission. Here is what I found out:


What should people know about Crisis Nursery?

The word “crisis” can scare families. Rather than being fearful of utilizing the services and groups available, Ann encourages people to think of the nursery as another community resource. A friend of mine in college once referred to it as a “safety net” and that was a great visual for me to understand its mission. The Crisis Nursery provides emergency childcare and can help “catch” mothers and families during difficult moments or stages, so they don’t fall under the weight of life. There are no eligibility or socioeconomic status requirements to use the nursery; they are not a pathway to any state agencies. Rest assured, strict confidentiality is maintained for all children and families utilizing support.

What makes the Crisis Nursery unique?                          crisis-nursery-exterior-005_thumb    

They help provide safe, nurturing childcare 365 days a year for 24 hours per day. There is NO break in childcare coverage! Crisis Nursery also provides any snacks, diapers, formula or clothing a child may need during their stay. (As a reference point, the average duration of stay times for a child is 8 hours. However, it could be as little as an hour or could involve an overnight visit.)

What are the steps if a family needs to come in to use the Crisis Nursery for emergency childcare?

First, a phone call is made on the crisis line (217-337-2730). Next, consent forms would need to be filled out, including the child’s information, family information and a signature of written consent. Parents/families are asked to provide times for drop-off and pick-up so staff can plan for volunteers and scheduling accordingly. But please know the child will not be pushed out onto the street when the time is up if you are running a few minutes late!

Are there limits to using Crisis Nursery?

Yes, childcare is provided for children ages 0 to 7 years; it is staffed to provide care for up to 12 children at one time.

crisis-nursery-interior-019_thumbWhat are some of the supportive services Crisis Nursery provides?

Part of the “Strong Families” portion of the nursery provides counseling, developmental assessments of the child, home visits (if desired), various parenting groups that meet regularly (there is usually one group of some kind meeting per week), parent-child interaction groups, Beyond Blue support group (specifically addresses challenges of postpartum life and perinatal depression) and referrals to other community resources.

If a community member wants to give back or get involved with Crisis Nursery, what are the options?

For a regular routine of volunteering, the nursery asks for a 2-hour per week time commitment. Before starting, applicants have a background check and 3-hour orientation to undergo. If committing to something on a weekly basis is not doable at this time, there are special one-time projects that small groups can volunteer to help cover (e.g. painting or upkeep of outdoor areas, Open House volunteering, tackling laundry, helping out at the annual Holiday Shop, etc.). Email Jill Duden at for more information on volunteering for projects.

Perhaps you would rather donate goods or contribute financially to the mission of Crisis nursery? Here is a list of needed items and here is where you can find a way to give back to the CU community by supporting Crisis Nursery. Please join us in supporting this fantastic organization, helping to care for so many mothers, children and families in our area!

by Shannon Morber



Gentle Transitions Gives Back! Part 2…The Pregnancy Resource Center & Merci’s Refuge

Gentle Transitions is committed to giving back to our community and the world. We are continuing our #givingtuesday focus today, and will continue throughout the month of December to focus on our favorite organizations, locally and globally that help mothers and babies in one way or another.

The Pregnancy Resource Center


Champaign-Urbana is truly lucky to have  the Pregnancy Resource Center. The PRC has many locations throughout Illinois, including locally in Champaign.

At the Pregnancy Resource Center you will find free services offered in a caring and confidential setting by staff who specialize in pregnancy and sexual health issues.

The PRC serves all women, regardless of age, race, socioeconomic status, or whether or not they have insurance.

Imagine finding out you are unexpectedly pregnant, and feeling like you have no place to turn for help. You have little to no health insurance, your significant other doesn’t want a child, and you’re not even sure you do. Or, you planned a pregnancy, but need more help than you thought you would getting used to the idea of parenting. The PRC is there, waiting with open arms. You can walk in, get a free pregnancy test, and speak to a caring person, in a private room, about your personal situation. You’ll hear about all of your options in a factual manner, and be offered a free ultrasound to see the life inside. You’ll have help making the decision about what to do, and should you choose to parent or make an adoption plan, the PRC is there with you each step of the way.

If a mother/couple chooses to parent their child, they can start taking advantage of parenting classes, called the H.O.P.E Mentoring Program – Helping Others Parent through Education. The “H.O.P.E.” program helps to answer many of the questions a woman/couple may have about pregnancy and newborn care.  There are regular lessons that teach great information about pregnancy and babies.  There are a lot of topics to choose from and each woman/couple can put together a personalized lesson plan that is unique to their needs, and better help them understand what their future holds. Classes include everything from birth, sleep, and feeding to newborn care, infant massage, first aid and beyond. Each time a woman/couple completes a lesson, they have the opportunity to earn “baby bucks” that can be used to purchased new or gently used baby and maternity items such as clothing, diapers, and variety of infant care products.  Brand new car seats, strollers and cribs may also be purchased with “baby bucks” when available.

Each year in the United States, about 51,000 American children are placed for adoption. In addition, about 6,500 foreign children are adopted by Americans, for a total of a little under 58,000 children adopted per year.* The PRC is available to help a woman/couple through the difficult decision to place their baby up for adoption. If a woman decided to make an adoption plan, they can set up appointment with staff members at the PRC to help them create their own personalized adoption plan, and work with staff and a lawyer through the legal aspects of placing a child for adoption.

While the Pregnancy Resource Center does not perform abortions, they do counsel women about the choice of abortion, and answer any questions a woman/couple might have about that option. They are committed to providing factual information regarding the different types of abortion, and help a woman/couple make their decision. If a woman/couple does choose abortion, the PRC provides non-judgemental and caring after-abortion support and care. They have one-on-one or group support for anyone who needs or wants it after choosing an abortion. If needed, they are able to refer people to professional counselors or therapists for more in-depth help.

The PRC has helped so many women and their partners through their pregnancy journeys.  In addition to all that they currently offer, they are working on an amazing new outreach in town called Merci’s Refuge.

Merci’s Refuge is a residential program offered at no cost and designed to nurture a woman in crisis as she becomes the person God created her to be.


The building is well underway, and is nearing it’s completion. It will be able to house 16 women, free of charge, as they go through intense daily programs to help them learn not only life skills, but also about who they are, their worth and value, and what might be holding them back from meeting their goals in life. The program will be offered to women who are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, or are at risk (ie, in an abusive relationship).

So, how can you help? Both the Pregnancy Resource Center and Merci’s Refuge offer free services to women and their partners. As such, they are always thankful to receive donations. Additionally, they love having volunteers! If you’d like to find out more about how you can volunteer and get involved with either the PRC or Merci’s Refuge, click here. 4

We hope you will join us in donating to the PRC, Merci’s Refuge or one of the other organizations that will be featured here each Tuesday throughout the month of December! Keep an eye out for our next blog featuring other local organizations and the wonderful work they are doing for us here in the Champaign-Urbana community.



Gentle Transitions Gives Back! Part 1

Gentle Transitions is committed to giving back to our community and the world. We wanted to start #givingtuesday off on the right foot… and we are spending the entire month of December sharing our favorite organizations, locally and globally that help mothers and babies in one way or another.

Every Mother Counts:

The organization, Every Mother Counts, is bringing awareness to Maternal Care and how we can make it better. Every 2 minutes a woman dies because of complications of childbirth and in the United States, we are 60th in the world in terms of Maternal Health. As you can imagine this issue is near and dear to our hearts. Last year the Safe Motherhood Quilt Project came to Champaign-Urbana and reading the stories of the women who lost their lives and the families and children she left behind was heartbreaking. We need better care for women throughout the entire pregnancy and the postpartum period all over the world. But 99% of the maternal deaths happen in countries with far less resources. Every Mother Counts tries to address the main barriers (transportation, education and supplies) to care for women all over the world. Every Mother Counts helps women by providing transportation to their health care providers for regular care or emergency needs that they would otherwise not receive. They provide education to women about family planning and pregnancy. As well as providing more trained birth attendants for woman in those developing countries… currently there is only 1 doctor for every 50,000 people in Tanzania. And even those doctors and facilities that they do have are lacking in basic supplies to do their jobs safely. The “mama kits” that this organization provides makes sure each trained provider and the mother’s they are serving safe and better care.


You can learn more about the great wok this organization is doing or donate to Every Mother Counts here:

Carry The Future:

So far this year the organization Carry the Future has donated 5,000 baby carriers to Syrian refugees on the Greek Island of Kos to help them carry children the long distances as they travel on foot. The baby carriers make the trek a million times easier with the young children the families are traveling with. And as any parent who has carried their child around the mall or grocery store can tell you, the carrier can make all the difference!

This organization has volunteers in the area who meet the parents in Greece and fit the carrier safely and comfortably for each family and baby. They are getting reports of the new baby wearers making it to Germany successfully! They are looking for gently used Soft Structured Carriers (SSCs). These are basically any carrier that has clasps or harnesses, any brands are welcome. Ring Slings and other carriers that can’t be fit in 3 minutes can’t be used because they require more education to make a safe and proper fit. If you are looking to donate or purchase a carrier for this organization, here is their address:

C/O CarryTheFuture
121 W. Lexington Drive
Suite L 106D
Glendale CA 91203

This is a link to their wishlist on Amazon if you want to purchase on. There are a wide selection of prices and brands:

Join us in donating to one of these great organizations this holiday season! And look for our next blogs featuring our local organizations and the wonderful work they are doing for us here at home.

All information shared in this blog was found on these pages:

Every Mother Counts

Carry The Future’s Q&A Facebook Page