GREAT FALLS — Toby's House Crisis Nursery in Great Falls is marking one year since it opened. The nursery is named in honor of October "Toby" Perez. She was two-years old when she was killed by her mother’s boyfriend in 2011. A decade later, the nursery created in her honor is working to help children in similar situations.
“A lot of this started in 2011 as far as the idea, but from 2016 to about 2020 we spent getting donations, acquiring a house, and figuring out how we could run this,” said Toby's House director Susie Zeak.
Susie has always had a heart for helping out families in need through the best way she knows how - child care.
“I was a young mom and I would not have been able to make it without the help of programs and the people around me so I want to do that For people now.”
During its year in operation, Toby’s House has served 123 children; Zeak says more than 30% have experienced some type of domestic violence.
The crisis nursery provides short-term care for children voluntarily brought there by a parent or legal guardian. There are many reasons why people utilize a crisis nursery for temporary child care or respite, including:
- There is not a safe place for a child to stay while resolving personal issues
- Someone is not capable of taking care of their child as they would like
- An important appointment but no one safe to leave a child with
- When stress and life’s problems are becoming too much to tolerate and could result in taking it out on a child or when someone feels they are losing control
- Medical emergencies where a care-giver needs immediate assistance with temporary childcare
- Mental health, substance abuse crisis
- Foster care parent respite
The services provided by Toby’s House Crisis Nursery are free and require no qualifications to use.