(Plain Press, May 2012) On April 3rd, friends and supporters of Providence House gathered on W. 32nd just south of Lorain Avenue for a groundbreaking ceremony for the $1.8 million dollar new wing for Leo’s House, Providence House’s crisis nursery for infants and children at risk of abuse and neglect.
Providence House Chief Executive Officer and President Natalie Leek-Nelson said the expansion was necessary because changes in State of Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services’ facilities licensing policies would have forced a reduction in the number of children the facility services if it did not expand and upgrade its facilities. The changes in state rules would force the reduction of the number of children Providence House could serve at one time from 26 to 12 according to Providence House’s Protect the Promise Campaign helped to raise the $2 million dollars needed for the expansion of facilities.
Leek-Nelson said that 31 years ago when Sister Hope Greener, CSJ, founded Providence House, a promise was made to protect and care for our community’s most vulnerable children. That promise has been threatened, Providence House had to turn away over 100 children last year. Leek-Nelson said this expansion of the Crisis Nursery “is critical to meet the needs of every child that comes to our door.”
Leek-Nelson says that giving parents a safe place to harbor their children during a family crisis helps prevent child abuse and neglect. Providence House’s crisis nursery now offers emergency shelter for children from newborns up to age six. The expansion will allow Providence House to take children up to age 10 and serve 20 children at a time; allowing it to serve 250 children a year. Statistics provided by Providence House indicate “60% of the children it serves are at risk for abuse or neglect, 40% of families are homeless, one in three has a caregiver with a medical crisis, one in eleven has a caregiver with a mental health crisis, and one in eleven is a witness to domestic violence.”
Ward 3 Cleveland Councilman Joe Cimperman spoke of the importance of the project reminding folks present that the children served by Providence House will be future members of the community. “The shoes they may be filling one day, may be yours or mine,” said Cimperman.
District 7 Cuyahoga County Council Member Yvonne Conwell said the services provided by Providence House save Cuyahoga County an estimated $10 million a year in foster care costs.
District 13 State Representative Nikki Antonio said when she worked at the Women’s Center she learned that Providence House helped women to make the decision to go into drug treatment, knowing that their children would be safe while they were undergoing treatment.
Joseph Gautner, Deputy Chief of Staff of Cuyahoga County’s Office of Health and Human Services, said Providence House is a key partner in helping prevent child abuse and neglect before it happens.