To coincide with National Child Abuse Awareness Month, local nonprofit Jeremiah’s Place today announced the opening of Pittsburgh’s first ever crisis nursery in Larimer. The nursery will provide emergency care for children whose parents are experiencing a crisis or emergency and the program's staff say they're already receiving calls from families.
“Very often, parents don’t have good childcare choices in an emergency,” said Executive Director LouAnn Ross. “We know that there are times parents refuse medical treatment because they don’t have childcare. There’s about a million examples like that of what the need looks like.”
Jeremiah’s Place was founded by doctors Lynne Williams, Tammy Murduch, and child advocate Eileen Sharbaugh. The nursery is designed to help parents who are temporarily unable to care for their children due to a health emergency, family conflict, or other crisis.
“Sometimes it gets so complicated when parents are trying to care for a child and they’re dealing with their own issues,” Sharbaugh said.
Williams became interested in bringing a crisis nursery to Pittsburgh after seeing how the mother of one of her foster children struggled.
“The only thing she needed was a break and she had no support and no resources,” said Williams, a pediatrician. “We’re not just here to keep the kids safe; we’re here to help the community.”
While the nursery will provide childcare in less serious situations, like if a parent has to go to a job interview, it is also designed to remove children from potentially dangerous situations. With the help of temporary child care, parents are given a chance to regroup and address the crisis and can also be referred to a social service agency if the problem is more serious.
“It’s about getting behind families and giving them help instead of pointing the finger,” said Murdoch, an obstetrician.
The nursery will care for children ages 6 and under for up to 72 hours. Starting out the program will be able to accommodate 12 children overnight and 45 during the day. Jeremiah’s Place also plans to offer parenting classes and a mentor program.
“There are a lot of families who don’t have support and there needs to be a place to help their children,” Anna Lewarchik, a resident in pediatric and internal medicine who began researching the idea of crisis nurseries three years ago and wanted to get involved in the Jeremiah's Place project.
The nursery is housed at the Kingsley Association. The nonprofit is being supported by the Richard King Mellon Foundation, Henry Hillman Foundation, Grable Foundation, and Heinz Endowments.
For more information call 412-924-0726, email email@example.com, or visit www.jeremiahsplace.org.