GREAT FALLS — Toby's House Crisis Nursery in Great Falls reports that it is seeing an increase in the number of families approaching their doors.
The nursery, which opened just over a year ago, is named in honor of October "Toby" Perez. She was two years old when she was killed by her mother’s boyfriend in 2011. A decade later, the nursery created in her honor is working to help children in similar situations.
"We probably receive at least three calls a week from parents that have experienced some sort of violence in their home. What we see the most of is physical abuse, and a lot of neglect that goes on in our community," said Toby's House Crisis Nursery director Susie Zeak.
"Children deserve to have a good childhood, be carefree, and play, and laugh, and have fun. And when children see violence in their home, when they're hearing they're experiencing violence, that gets carried with them to adulthood," Zeak continued.
While receiving an increasing amount of phone calls and families looking for sanctuary, Toby's House aims to provide hope for those in need.
"In order for children to be resilient, they need to have adults around them that are supportive and loving and kind. And that building relationships with children, and that's one of the most important things that community members can do for children is just there for them," Zeak explained.
While services have been expanding in helping victims, the increase in abused families remains an ongoing issue.
Toby's House posted on Facebook:
Last month we took care of a sweet girl who had the biggest, most beautiful eyes I had ever seen. I had just walked into work and after setting down my things I introduced myself to the little girl. She didn't say much but I made sure she knew she was in a safe place. Her mother had called us needing our services for the day. Mom was beaten up by her husband while their daughter watched.
More and more we are receiving calls like this. Moms, dads, even grandparents needing our help because of violence in the home.
We are proud to be able to help families when they are in need of help with their children. We are even more proud to be able to offer the children somewhere they can be safe and just be kids.
"The topic of safety for children is always an important topic to address. Toby's House is a wonderful resource that our community now has and perhaps they're becoming more known, and folks are taking advantage of that, which is the whole purpose of Toby's House is to be used as a prevention measure," said Dandelion Foundation board member Jamie Marshall.
"The science definitely proves that there is a change in the brain science when children experience neglect, child abuse of any form," Marshall continued. "It does change an individual. That trauma is significant."
The crisis nursery provides short-term care for children voluntarily brought there by a parent or legal guardian.
There are many reasons why people utilize a crisis nursery for temporary child care or respite, including:
- There is not a safe place for a child to stay while resolving personal issues
- Someone is not capable of taking care of their child as they would like
- An important appointment but no one safe to leave a child with
- When stress and life’s problems are becoming too much to tolerate and could result in taking it out on a child or when someone feels they are losing control
- Medical emergencies where a care-giver needs immediate assistance with temporary childcare
- Mental health, substance abuse crisis
- Foster care parent respite
The services provided by Toby’s House Crisis Nursery are free and require no qualifications to use.
Click here to visit The Dandelion Foundation website to learn more about the organization.