Ongoing campaign to raise the remaining funds needed for the new crisis nursery

For more than 20 years, a 1,400 square foot home on a quiet residential street in Davis has served as a haven for young children whose families are in crisis.

In fiscal 2021 alone, Yolo Crisis Nursery provided 2,400 safe stays for children ages 0-5 whose parents struggled with everything from homelessness to domestic violence.

In this small building, operated at full capacity, the children received emergency day and night care, among other services.

The demand for these services has steadily grown due to the pandemic, economic insecurity, homelessness and more. In 2021, Yolo Crisis Nursery served 67% more families than the previous year and the needs are only expected to increase.

That’s why an effort is underway to build a new house for the daycare, a house that can serve more families and provide more services.

Land has already been donated to the nursery at another location in town and a fundraising campaign – the Brighter Tomorrows Campaign – is underway to raise the remaining $1.5 million of the $9.5 million needed to the construction of a new house of 9,000 square feet and more services.

Thanks to the generosity of some major donors, as well as US bailout funds committed by the City of Davis and Yolo County, the campaign has already secured $8 million and is now turning to the community to help fill the remaining void.

Among the major donations received so far:

* $2.5 million from Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation;
* $1.1 million in county ARP funds;
* $500,000 in ARP funds from the City of Davis; and
* $500,000 from Sutter Health

Sutter Health’s donation was announced last week, with Tammy Powers, administrative director of Sutter Davis Hospital, calling for support for programs like the crisis nursery that are integral to Sutter’s mission.

“As an integrated nonprofit network, community benefit is at the heart of what we do,” Powers said. “It allows us to understand the urgent needs of the most vulnerable populations in our community.

“It’s especially meaningful to be part of the Brighter Tomorrows effort supporting the Yolo Crisis Nursery.”

Elected officials present at a campaign kickoff in June echoed the importance of the crisis incubator to the community.

“The Yolo Crisis Nursery provides a place for children during tough times so parents can get back on their feet,” said Yolo County Supervisor Jim Provenza of Davis.

“Helping children is our most important goal in the community. I can’t think of anything more important.

Congresswoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, D-Winters, echoed that.

“This program is so phenomenal,” she said. “We can take care of the children in our community and make sure they have a better life. We can make sure moms and dads have the tools to be good parents.

More of this will be possible in a new larger facility, including:

* More than triple the number of beds to accommodate children overnight
* Designated spaces for preschool classes, training sessions and meetings
* Private offices for parent counseling and other enveloping services
* Space for medical assessments, targeted therapy, parent training and expanded services
* Outdoor play area, with separate age-appropriate areas
* Improved facilities and equipment, from a modern and efficient kitchen to critical security systems
* Administrative spaces, storage and entrance areas to provide more efficient services

Heather Sleuter, executive director of Yolo Crisis Nursery, expressed her gratitude Thursday for all the donations received so far and said the next “$1.5 million will be hugely significant.”

Individual donations will be essential, just as they have been throughout the nursery’s history, including eight years ago when the nursery faced an uncertain future.

For years, EMQ FamiliesFirst had operated the nursery, but pulled out in June 2014, citing the cost of running the nursery as well as the fallout from problems at its other Davis facility at the time – a group home on fifth street for troubled youth that had been closed.

Alarm bells rang and the community responded, with donations pouring in from all corners – from Davis firefighters and local businesses to children’s bake sales and private foundations, as well as individual residents.

Now a stand-alone nonprofit, the Yolo Crisis Nursery is once again turning to the community.

Sleuter said the new facility will be life changing for staff and the families they serve.

Currently, these staff work in an overcrowded living room, overnight beds are limited, and even the small backyard requires children to come out to play at different times.

And serving all the children in need of crisis care in Yolo County has become increasingly difficult.

In announcing the tribe’s $2.5 million donation for the new facility, Yocha Dehe trial president Anthony Roberts noted that the nursery is “transforming lives.”

“By protecting children, supporting parents in crisis and keeping families together, the nursery breaks general cycles of abuse and neglect,” Roberts said. “We are proud to partner with Yolo Crisis Nursery and enable this critical expansion of their work.”

Community members interested in joining this effort can make donations at

Plans call for construction of the new nursery to begin next spring on a one-acre plot in South Davis.

— Contact Anne Ternus-Bellamy at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy.

Dora W. Clawson