‘A Family Place’ Expands to Reach more Children

Jun 17, 2020 | Child Welfare, Family Support

Ground was broken for the third “A Family Place” relief nursery in Willamina, OR in 2019. Helping break ground (from left) are Community Engagement Manager Joi Bailey, Yamhill County Commissioners Casey Kulla and Mary Starrett, District Director Jordan Robinson and Dave Haugeberg.

LCS Northwest has been keeping Yamhill County’s vulnerable children safe and families together since 2013 through our A Family Place relief nurseries. The first nursery opened in McMinnville in 2013, followed three years later by a second one in Newberg.

We are now preparing to serve the rural West Valley area of the county when we open our third relief nursery later this year in Willamina.

A Family Place serves at-risk children from zero to five years old. Each student attends therapeutic early childhood classroom two days a week, and respite care is provided on Fridays. In-home services, outreach to parents and a diaper bank are vital components. Parents are often connected to other services such as mental health that strengthen families.

“We helped 400 of our County’s most vulnerable families in 2019, and we were 100% effective because no children at A Family Place went into foster care,” said District Director Jordan Robinson.

Outcomes showed that 99% of participating children had no subsequent involvement with Child Welfare, and 90% developed at age-appropriate levels. Children show increased concentration, learning, empathy and social skills.

The new West Valley location will serve the communities of Willamina, Sheridan and Grand Ronde. The need is great. The rural area has 8 percent of the county’s population but makes up 23 percent of the reported child abuse. It’s also at least a 20-minute drive to family services.

The Willamina School District has contributed land, and we are constructing a modular building on school grounds for A Family Place. Capital funding included nearly $250,000 from Yamhill County, $150,000 from the Oregon Community Foundation and a $90,000 private donation from a McMinnville donor. Foundations, generous individuals and the Oregon Department of Education made operational funding possible.

“The school district is thrilled with us being there because A Family Place introduces children to a classroom setting,” Robinson said. “Behaviors can be a problem in kindergarten and first grade and our work will help reduce that.”

The West Valley relief nursery will have two classes. Other services available in Willamina will include mental health counseling for all ages, a diaper bank/clothes closet and in-home services to strengthen families. A local six-member advisory group has been meeting for two years to engage the community around the work of A Family Place and LCS Northwest.