Building crisis nursery in SA could save lives

SAN ANTONIO - Child advocates are hoping to build a crisis nursery in San Antonio; a place they describe as a safe haven for children at risk of abuse and neglect.

There are respite centers in other states, but currently there is not one in Texas.

The CEO of Cleveland's Providence House was invited to San Antonio to share their model and success stories.

"A lot of our parents, they're so actively living in crisis, that then their children are very unintentionally suffering the consequences," said Providence House CEO, Natalie Leek-Nelson.

Some of the kids have drug addicted parents, some of the kids are being neglected by single moms spread thin, others are victims of domestic violence.

'We really see ourselves as the safety net for moms literally that are fleeing from violence that's now coming after their own children," Leek-Nelson said.

Kathy Fletcher with Voices for Children believes San Antonio parents need a safety net like this.

"What about if they are at a point where they just can't handle it anymore or they have a mental health situation or they have a doctors appointment or your alternative is leaving that child with someone that you have serious questions about," Fletcher said.

The goal of a crisis nursery is 2 fold; keep kids safe and keep families together.

Children could stay 2 or 3 days and when the parent returns to pick them up, they would be connected to any community resources they might need; food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, even rehab in some cases.

"Young moms hopefully would recognize and have a place, a safe place without fear of child protective services being called in," said 225th District Court Judge Peter Sakai.

A crisis nursery is different from the childrens shelter because those children are already "in the system", meaning their families are under review by Child Protective Services and the children are likely to end up in the foster care system.

"We're looking at this as an intervention that might help families get some type of treatment and get connected with some type of resources to prevent them from getting involved with Child Protective Services and keep them from being removed," said Children's Shelter, CEO, Annette Rodriguez.

"We know that in our own county, the children that would've likely escalated into foster care that started wtih our program saves over 8 million dollars every year," Leek-Nelson said.

In Bexar County close to 2500 children end up in foster care every year due to abuse and neglect.

Leek-Nelson said money spent on emergency shelters translates to money saved with children who are able to avoid being placed in foster care.

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