Earlier this summer, a new childcare facility opened in New Ulm with the goal of helping parents in difficult circumstances.

Earlier this summer, a new childcare facility opened in New Ulm with the goal of helping parents in difficult circumstances.

The Southern Minnesota Crisis Nursery—the Ivy House—offers free temporary care for children zero to 12 years of age in crisis situations. While the Crisis Nursery doesn’t define what constitutes a crisis, the Family Advocate team readily supports parents as they work through whatever stressors affect their families.

The house, licensed by the Minnesota Department of Human Services, provides care for children for one to 72 hours, for up to 30 days in a calendar year. Although the Crisis Nursery doesn’t offer transportation, anyone with their own means of getting to the house is welcome to use the facility.

“Everything is done on site with the families,” said Amber Collins, Board Chair of the Southern Minnesota Crisis Nursery. This includes the Family Advocate program, which works to support families in severe crises, and the paperwork. Parents need only log on to www.smncrisisnursery.org to learn more information and call the hotline number, 507-766-6925, to seek help.

Collins originally volunteered at the greater Minneapolis Crisis Center, an experience she called “eye-opening.” She said she prayed a lot about opening a Crisis Center before talking to professionals to see if there was a need for such a place in Brown County. After working two years to get the facility up and running, the Board opened the Ivy House in June of this year.

“It was really fun to see how the community pulled together to make this happen,” said Collins. “If you walk through the house, almost everything was donated, except we had to buy maybe one garbage basket.” Even diapers, formula, and wipes have been donated to the house.

Collins described the environment of the Crisis Nursery as similar to an in-home daycare setting. She said it’s like staying at Grandma and Grandpa’s house for the kids because the center provides everything they might need. Food, extra pajamas and clothes of all sizes, toothbrushes, teddy bears, and more are available to the young guests. “We want kids to feel comfortable,” said Collins. The Department of Human Services requires the Crisis Nursery to follow guidelines and meet certain standards, and Collins said the basic rules of the house promote kindness and respect.

With around 35 volunteers, a paid director, and a paid family advocate, the Crisis Nursery is equipped with a solid staff trained to help families in crises. They are in the process of hiring a paid childcare advocate as well. The house is always looking for volunteers—who can fill out an application on the webpage. Volunteers, who must be 21 or older, undergo general childcare training and a state level background check before being added to the schedule.

“We make sure all shifts are covered and ask volunteers to be ready to be called in,” said Collins. “Most of the time we know one day in advance if someone is needed.” The ratio is one provider for every three kids, with space available for up to six kids.

As a fundraiser, the Southern Minnesota Crisis Nursery is holding their second annual wine tasting event (with beer and spirits as well) on Thursday, Oct. 12 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the New Ulm Country Club. The event also includes a live and silent auction. All proceeds support the Crisis Nursery. Since their first wine tasting fundraiser last year, the Ivy House has been fully funded. Although children were brought in slowly upon opening, Collins said the Crisis Nursery housed kids nearly every day in the last couple months. The staff is ready and available to help anyone in southern Minnesota.