IMAGINE YOURSELF, frightened and alone, fleeing a violent situation at home. Now imagine that same scenario, but this time you’re on the run with your 3-year-old. You head for Jeremiah’s Place because you know you can trust the people there to care for your toddler with the same compassion they have for the 400 children the center has welcomed since its opening in 2014. The only crisis nursery in the region, Jeremiah’s Place has provided free, safe emergency child care to 250 families. Children stay for up to 72 hours at a time, sheltered from the stress of family crises and surrounded by caregivers who provide creative play, comfort and a sense of normalcy. Children leave Jeremiah’s Place with a backpack full of items that they may have lost in the rush out of home: a stuffed animal, a blanket, a toothbrush, toothpaste, a new pair of pajamas.
The families at Jeremiah’s Place come from 56 ZIP codes, but nearly all of them — 98 percent — come from households headed by low-income single women with children. They contend with challenges that extend far beyond emergency child care: food insecurity, unemployment, intimate partner violence and mental health. A 2014 Urban Institute study funded by the Foundation found that single women with children face the greatest risk of poverty in our region.
The Foundation’s newly established 100 Percent Pittsburgh organizing principle is working to address this vulnerability. A $43,000 grant is deepening the nonprofit’s collaboration with Jewish Family & Children’s Service to provide women with the services they need to transition to stability: therapy sessions, employment counseling, transportation subsidies, companionship and support from other families in crisis.
Original story appeared in Forum Quarterly – Fall 2016