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New child-care crisis center opens

"Crisis nursery open houseWhidbey's Child Abuse Prevention Foundation has an open house scheduled for Oak Harbor's new Harbor Haven Crisis Nursery from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday. The free emergency nursery at the Church of the Nazarene, 1100 W. Whidbey Ave. Mayor Nancy Cohen will cut the ceremonial ribbon at 5 p.m. Donations will be accepted. Parents interested in using the nursery can contact Harbor Haven at 279-7313. Oak Harbor resident Eric Flores is accused of murdering his wife's 6-week-old baby after the couple had a serious fight and she tried to commit suicide.Langley resident Brian Web is facing assault charges for allegedly shaking his 4-month-old daughter hard enough to cause brain damage. He is alleged to have told police that he shook the crying infant because he was angry.An Oak Harbor man recently spent a few days in county jail in connection with allegedly choking his teenage son until the boy blacked out. The father and son had been arguing over house cleaning.These recent cases of alleged child abuse illustrate the kind of violence that the Island County grassroots organization Child Abuse Prevention Foundation is trying to prevent: Senseless, impulsive acts that arise out of stressful situations. Child Abuse Prevention Foundation Executive Director Robin Hertlein said the group is opening a facility that is designed to stop this kind of child abuse. Crisis nurseries, she says, have been proven to decrease the amount of child neglect and violence towards children in a community.The group is holding an open house of the new Harbor Haven crisis nursery this Thursday. The free, temporary child care service for children from six weeks to 12 years old is at the Church of the Nazarene, which donated the space. The foundation is contracting with Service Alternatives to run the program, which is funded by donations from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Group Health Foundation, Wells Fargo Foundation, Seattle Mariners Care, Target Stores, Delta Tau Sorority, Oak Harbor Methodist Women and other service groups and businesses.The nursery is made up of three large rooms decorated with happy colors, child-sized furniture and toys galore. Program Manager Kate Dohr explained that one of the rooms is set up for infants, another for toddlers and the third for school-aged children.Dohr said she hopes to open Harbor Haven in the first week in April, which coincidentally is the National Child Abuse Prevention Month. It will only be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays, but the managers hope to expand the hours in the future if they can get the funding. Dohr said the program is modeled after the Child Abuse Prevention Foundation's In A Pinch crisis nursery in Clinton, which serves about 50 children each month.Hertlein said parents use the Clinton nursery for a variety of reasons. Some have to go to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings or job interviews. Some just need a break from the stresses of parenting.In fact, Dohr said the philosophy behind crisis nurseries is to give stressed-out parents a rest, which will hopefully prevent them from lashing out at their children, or neglecting them. Foundation Director Pat Beaugard said the program will give her the chance to also meet parents in crisis and let them know about other services available in the community, and some parenting tips.You can reach staff reporter Jessie Stensland at jstensland@whidbeynewstimes.com or call 675-6611. "

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