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



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