Crisis Nursery, Always There

DiAnne Mueller recalls the phone call that changed a woman’s life. “She’d seen our flyer posted at the Laundromat and had written down our number,” says Mueller. “On the day her husband broke her jaw and she decided she’d had enough, she called us, and we sent a cab to pick her up along with her three kids and take them to a safe place.” Since that time, “she’s employed, found a beautiful apartment and even volunteers on our Parent Advisory Board,” she says. “I’m so thrilled for her, but at the same time, my heart breaks for the mothers that don’t know they can find help through Crisis Nursery.”

Mueller, who has served as CEO of Saint Louis Crisis Nursery for nearly 30 years, says that when the organization received a Heritage grant from YouthBridge in 2019, she knew exactly where it would be the biggest help. “We wanted to increase awareness, both of the resources available to families and of the issue of child abuse,” she says. The Saint Louis Crisis Nursery offers immediate crisis intervention and intensive follow-up support to help high-risk families with children from birth to age 12, focusing on preventing instances of child abuse or neglect before they happen. It’s a model with a 99% effectiveness rate in keeping children in the home free from abuse and neglect.

The organization was able to hire a consultant “that we never would have been able to afford otherwise,” says Mueller, organize more community events and speaking engagements, do more canvassing of neighborhoods, meet with more legislators and blanket the area with materials, “like the flyer our courageous mom saw that ended up being a lifeline.”

Over the past three years, she says the Crisis Nursery has significantly increased its digital reach, legacy giving and positive response rate to grant applications, through the expertise and tools it’s been able to tap into with the Heritage grant. During this time, YouthBridge also has continued to be a committed partner with a culture of “what can we do?” she says. “They bring funders aligned with our mission whose generous support enabled us to provide over 100,000 hours of crisis care during the pandemic.”

Mueller says YouthBridge also organizes quarterly get-togethers for nonprofit leaders to network, get advice and share ideas. “The pandemic has been the hardest time of my career, and it has been a tremendous help getting to know and lean on my peers.”

The Crisis Nursery never took a pause during the pandemic, she says, because “we couldn’t; our kids need us.” Instead, the organization consolidated its five nursery sites, keeping its city, North County and Wentzville (its largest) sites open, provided 22,000 telehealth sessions, manned a 24-hour helpline, made over 3,000 home deliveries of diapers, formula and other basic needs, assisted 2,000 families with rent and utilities, and much more.

“Supporting overwhelmed parents is a key intervention for preventing child abuse,” say Mueller. “The COVID crisis made an already challenging life ten times harder for many of our families, and I am so grateful to the angels – my staff, our volunteers and donors – that made it possible for us to continue to be there for them.”

If you would like to donate or have any questions about this organization, please contact Allison McDonald.