Tuesday, January 31, 2023

'Crisis is at our front door'

Staff Writer | December 12, 2022 1:08 AM

COEUR d’ALENE — Vanessa Moos leaves no doubt when it comes to what's happening at Children's Village.

It is, she wrote, “receiving more calls for help than ever before."

“From full-time residents placed by the state, to short-time crisis placements, an impending local crisis is at our front door,” wrote Moos, chief executive officer at the Coeur d’Alene nonprofit.

This year, through the end of October, children have spent more than 2,300 bed nights at Children’s Village. In an average year, that number is about 1,900.

In October, it provided more than 220 bed nights. That same month, it saw crisis respite cases — which is up to 72-hour emergency assistance, such as a place to sleep — jump up to about 25 from an average of four in previous months.

That’s the highest number of crisis respite cases since it signed a contract with Children’s Mental Health of Idaho to provide that assistance about a year ago.

“We just saw such a huge need,” said Rosa Mettler, chief operations officer. “We had a lot of kids in and out.”

The nonprofit residential care facility serves children displaced from their families due to abuse, neglect or severe family crisis. It has two residential homes and a counseling and education center.

Twenty-nine percent of its residents were placed by the state, while 71% were privately placed.

All of those children have had an impact on Children's Village staff. Artwork and poetry by children decorate Mettler's office.

“They’re super sweet. They like to give us little mementos of themselves," Mettler said.

There are several reasons for the increase in crisis respite cases.

One is the rising cost of housing.

“We have a lot of families going into homelessness,” she said Friday afternoon.

Mettler said there are situations where families lost their homes and are living in RVs.

“The state of the economy is significantly impacting homelessness,” she said.

Children’s Village is also seeing more youths dealing with behavioral and emotional distress. Mettler said there are not enough providers in the community to help them all.

“Sometimes they're in need of more significant mental health support,” Mettler said.

It is also receiving more calls from parents themselves seeking help, which Children’s Village is happy to provide.

“We are passionate about filling gaps in our community,” Mettler said. “We don’t have to recreate the wheel. We can just fill gaps.”

The goal is to keep families in their homes and Mettler believes that by being more progressive in offering assistance, instead of being reactionary, they can do it.

"We create a more stable living environment those kids get to go back home to. That is the goal. That should be all of our goals as a community," she said.

Like any nonprofit, with the need for more services comes a need for more donations.

"With your help, we are the Village for so many," Moos wrote.

Info: thechildrensvillage.org

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