Roughly a year ago, Jennifer Roberts couldn’t sleep after hearing the story of a child being abused in the Oklahoma City area.
She decided it was time to take action.
“I just asked what I could do. I wanted to do something different to help. There are great organizations out there that do great things, but there is a gap that needs to be filled.”
That’s when the OkCity Crisis Nursery was born.
Roberts combined forces with friends Kendra Cox and Lauren Langley to start the crisis nursery.
Cox and Langley are Canadian County residents, while Roberts lives in Edmond.
“We have a heart for helping kids,” Langley said. “We knew we had to bring a crisis nursery to Oklahoma.”
The OkCity Crisis Nursery’s vision is to provide free and immediate care for children involved in a crisis situation. The mission is to improve the lives of young children by reducing trauma. The goal is to prevent child abuse and neglect in Oklahoma by providing a safe and nurturing environment of unconditional love.
“People don’t know what we are about, but they still have been reaching out,” Roberts said. “We want to provide a place where parents can take their kids with no questions asked. One of the questions people ask is what constitutes a crisis situation. Whether it’s domestic abuse or if a parent or parents need time to themselves, we will accept any children into the nursery. It doesn’t have to be an abuse situation.”
Another situation that Roberts, Cox and Langley want to highlight is mothers dealing with postpartum depression.
“It’s a very serious issue and we want those mothers that are dealing with postpartum depression to feel comfortable with coming and leaving their child or children with us and then going to do what they need to do to help themselves,” Roberts said.
The OkCity Crisis Nursery is open 24 hours, provides parent education and refers people, who are interested, to community agencies to get help. The nursery is designed to help parents or caregivers who are unable to provide safe shelter and care for children ages 0-7.
“We are not a day care, but a safe place,” Cox said. “We like to call ourselves the Four Seasons for kids. We are not a shelter. When people walk in and see the nursery, we want them to be like ‘wow’. We want it to create warm and fuzzy feelings and for the kids to be excited about coming to see us.”
In 2018, Department of Human Services received 80,598 reports of alleged child abuse and neglect in Oklahoma. There were 138,061 alleged victims and 15,951 confirmed victims. There were 4,955 children who left state custody and were successfully reunited with their biological families.
“A lot of these parents are good parents, they just need help,” Roberts said. “We want them to bring their child or children to the crisis nursery and go and take care of what they need to take care of without having to turn to DHS. We want to give them a support system that otherwise they would not have. Our goal is to cut the numbers in half, but if we save at least one child, it is worth it.”
The OkCity Crisis Nursery is located at 229 NE 11th St. in Oklahoma City.
Roberts said she found the house as she was driving around the area looking for possible locations.
“I knew it was the right house when I walked in. It is the perfect location. It is right by the University of Oklahoma Children’s Hospital, so it is centrally located. The goal is to be up and running by Feb. 1.”
Langley said the nursery is not just for abused children, and there will be no questions asked.
“We aren’t going to ask any questions. This will be a no judgment place. We understand a crisis situation means something different to everyone. There will be an in-take form to fill out and that’s it. We have partnered with other crisis centers that will provide us with supplies and we will take some of their children into our nursery. We help each other out. We have all of the furniture and supplies, now it’s just getting it in there.”
The OkCity Crisis Nursery is funded by numerous corporate sponsors and donations. It will be staffed by volunteer teams and groups. All volunteers will undergo extensive background checks. To apply to be a volunteer, go to the crisis nursery website and fill out an application. The website is www.crisisnurseryokc.com
The Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery is where Roberts said she got the idea to do a crisis nursery here in Oklahoma City. The Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery is in Spokane and has been operating for 30 years.
The OkCity Crisis Nursery is the only crisis nursery in Oklahoma, but Roberts said they want to build more in the Oklahoma City area and build at least one in the Tulsa area.
The Oklahoma City-based nursery can house 20 children over night and 25-30 during the day. Since Roberts, Cox and Langley started the crisis nursery, they have been using their homes.
People can find the OkCity Crisis Nursery on Facebook or they can be reached by phone at 979-0706.
“Our motto is, ‘Children are loved, parents are supported,’” Roberts said. “We have a good relationship with DHS. We recently met with them and they loved the idea. Our goal is to prevent kids from going into the system. We care about kids and their families.”