Did you know that there are many different types of childcare services? Ever heard of a relief nursery? South Coast Family Harbor is a non-profit organization that is part of the Oregon Association of Relief Nurseries (OARN). SCDC recently met with Tracie Skinner, Executive Director, of the South Coast Family Harbor (SCFH), to talk about the special services they offer.
The South Coast Family Harbor program is patterned after other relief nurseries throughout the U.S. The Relief Nursery concept is a nationally recognized non-profit model proven to protect young children while strengthening high-risk, multi-stressed families. Relief nurseries are supported by private and public partnerships, and gains strength through community involvement, financial donations, and volunteers.
The goal of a relief nursery is to help the family stay safe, together, and thriving by providing therapeutic early childhood development services for children and comprehensive family support. As part of this they offer several programs including therapeutic early childhood classrooms (for children 2-4), home visitations, consultations with Mental Health child therapists, respite care programs (Fridays 1:00-3:30 pm), parenting classes (First and Third Fridays from 12:30-2:30 pm), plus resource and referral services. They hope to add an additional day to their respite care program this spring.
“We are the first Relief Nursery on the Oregon Coast” Ms. Skinner added. Many of our smaller communities could use some help. The program, she indicated, is growing faster all the time, due to increasing needs related to financial stability and substance abuse. Coos County has the highest child abuse victim rate per 1,000 children in the State of Oregon.1
There are many at risk families on the Oregon Coast. At risk families are identified through a weighted risk analysis. Once identified, services provided by the Harbor can be extended to all children in a family that are under the age of 15. The type of services can include recommendations, referrals, mental health consultations, home teacher visits, as well as, therapeutic classrooms for children 2-4. The goal is to create stronger networks for keeping children safe.
We are “Helping Families Help Themselves” Ms. Skinner said. “Families are coming here,” she continued, “willing to work with us.” “We are not a mandated program,” she summed up indicating that assistance is confidential, and staff are licensed and required to sign confidentiality contracts as established under Oregon Archives 423-045-0101.
The Oregon Association of Relief Nurseries program was created to help prevent child abuse and neglect by employing individualized community supports, such as the SCFH, to strengthen high-risk families and keep children safe, healthy, and ready to learn. It all started back in 1976. The Junior League of Eugene created the Lane County Relief Nursery and began providing respite care to a handful of children in borrowed space in a church basement. In 1984, Jean Phelps was hired and the Relief Nursery model developed and flourished.
The SCFH started out about five years ago here in Coos Bay under the title “Nurturing Center” and evolved the second year as a “Relief Nursery” under the Southwestern Community College umbrella. In 2015, the SCFH received their 501©3 non-profit status. As a non-profit they provide services to qualifying families at no charge.
In Oregon, the program has grown to include 30-31 locations (both centers and satellite locations). Ms. Skinner indicated that Oregon will be adding two centers and seven satellite locations this year. They are also looking “for other ways to serve the community.” This could include an infant day care program, classroom expansion, expanded educational services, and increase the number of families in the home based/outreach services.
To do this, they rely on a public and private partnership which includes grants, fund raising events, and fun events. To check in on the most recent activity follow this link: https://mtyc.co/j04lxf. Two main fund-raising events occur each year: Starry, Starry Night in May and Casino Night in September/October.
Ms. Skinner indicated that they will also be participating in the Festival of Trees program this year. The SCFH tree will have a Disney theme and will be auctioned off. The tree will then be given back with gifts to a needy family right before Christmas break. Very exciting!
There is, depending on the season, a waiting list of families hoping to get in. This time of year, the list is short. If you are interested in learning more, participating, or supporting the Harbor please visit their website at southcoastfamilyharbor.org or call 541-982-3090. SCFH is located at 250 Hull, Coos Bay, OR on the edge of the Southwestern Oregon Community College campus.
1 South Coast Family Harbor Board Manual, 2018, section 10.