New Klamath Falls relief nursery is ‘beacon of hope’ for at-risk families

by | Sep 1, 2022 | Child Welfare, Family Support | 1 comment

Joseph Maurer, Program Manager for A Family Gathering Place, cuts the ribbon at the Aug. 26 dedication event in Klamath Falls, Oregon. (Photo by KATHERINE GRAYSON)

With the snip of a ribbon in the late-summer sunshine,  LCS Northwest staff shared a triumphant moment with the Klamath Falls community. They dedicated a new relief nursery designed to keep vulnerable families together and help their children blossom.

The name gives only a hint of what’s inside: A Family Gathering Place. It is one of 40 relief nurseries in Oregon, and one of two operated by LCSNW; the other is A Family Place in Yamhill County.

“We’re really excited to open up and have the kiddos in this space,” said Program Manager Joseph Maurer. It’s a dream that the agency and its local partners began forming back in 2014, determined to reduce high rates of abuse and neglect in Southern Oregon.

Relief nurseries provide a holistic, strength-based model for child and family development. They do it through case management, home visits, parent education, and, of course, plenty of safe, structured playtime and learning for the little ones. Diapers, wipes and food boxes are also available.

When the new Klamath facility opens this fall, a team of seven staff will welcome a total of 19 children, each attending a half-day class twice a week. Preschool and toddlers will comprise the initial classes; infants and “wobblers” will be added as soon as possible. LCSNW’s relationship with the Klamath Tribes also presents opportunities for larger enrollment and cultural diversity.

Ashley Maniaci speaks about how the relief nursery has helped her family. (Photo by KATHERINE GRAYSON)

There’s definitely room to grow. The relief nursery has roughly double the space of its former home in the basement of a local Lutheran church. It opened two years ago but was limited by the COVID-19 pandemic.

To understand how A Family Gathering Place can change the outlook for struggling families, listen to Ashley Maniaci. The single mother of two sons, age 6 and 2 ½, spoke at the Aug. 26 open house.

In the past, her older son didn’t interact well in social environments. At a loss for what to do, she gave the relief nursery and its therapeutic classroom a try. “It didn’t take me long to realize that my son was a completely different kid.”

Ashley said she also learned new parenting techniques, such as how to “get down on my son’s level in a way that’s neutral and stress free.”

Little feet had their run of the relief nursery at the open house. (Photo by KATHERINE GRAYSON)

Eager for the new building to open, she and her sons roamed the grounds and had fun together after the ribbon cutting. “It truly is a one-of-a-kind place and a beacon of hope to support families through whatever they’re going through.”

Follow the team on Facebook at: @AFamilyGatheringPlaceKlamath

1 Comment

  1. Chris Stevens

    My fiancee ashley maniaci did a wonderful speech. Im so proud of her and LCS relief nursery all of you are super amazing to our 6 year old son!