A new kind of nursery is coming to Oklahoma City next month, and it aims to help ease the caseload at DHS.
Three local moms are creating the facility, which will provide a safe place for children of families experiencing various crises. It will be located inside a newly-remodeled old house on Northeast 11th Street near Interstate 235, and co-founder Jennifer Roberts says the building is the perfect fit.
“This is our house,” she says. “It was made for us. It really was.”
Roberts says last year, she had grown frustrated with news stories about Oklahoma's abused children. She and her friends in faith, sisters Kendra Allen and Lauren Langley, researched a way to stem the problem before it starts.
“We basically just said, okay we’ve got to do something different,” Roberts explains. “In Oklahoma our numbers are ridiculous and child abuse, it’s just not getting better.”
As biological, foster and adoptive mothers, the women say they understand a parent's need for a break sometimes.
“I was a young mom,” Langley says. “I had two kids by 18, so I know how hard it is, but luckily I had an amazing support group.”
This home will provide that support, with emergency beds for 20 children from age 0-7 with a playroom for 25 kids during the day. The hope is that parents can bring them here before they wind up in DHS custody.
“It’s just a safe place and parents feel supported,” Roberts says. “That’s the main thing. When they come in this door, we’re not going to judge them.”
Staff can then direct families to other resources to help them heal. They have taken in 18 kids in their own homes in the past month, and they are already looking for a second location.
They do need community support to get it up and running, though. Their GoFundMe page is currently looking to raise $200,000.
“We’re going to help these kids no matter what,” Roberts says, “and we don’t have an, ‘oh, yeah we can’t do that’ attitude. It’s just what do you need? Okay, we’ll get it.”