Planning for Great Falls Crisis Nursery Begins

Toby's HouseArticle courtesy – KRTV

A crisis nursery is in the works for the city of Great Falls.

“We’re still very much in our infancy stages,” said Jo-Viviane Jones of the Cascade City-County Health Department.

The nursery will be named “Toby’s House” after October Perez, a 2-year-old who died after suffering from child abuse.

“First of all, we appreciate they are doing this. It’s a great honor,” said April Hall, October’s paternal grandmother.

Kristy Perez, October’s mother, agrees.

“I look forward to working with both the Dandelion Foundation and the Early Childhood Coalition to help educate the community and prevent these tragedies from happening in our community,” said Perez.

In October of 2013, Jones visited the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery in Spokane after a training meeting discussing the child abuse epidemic in Cascade County.

From there, she knew it was time to act in Montana.

“The Early Childhood Coalition (ECC) used to have a “Community Needs Committee” which focused on addressing the most urgent needs. This committee was inactive for some time, and I revived it this year in May with the intent of targeting our child abuse and neglect rate here in Cascade County,” said Jones. “We have since met monthly, and the ECC board approved pursuing the crisis nursery project and I am trying to keep the project moving forward. “

Right now, those involved are still in the premature stages of the nursery.

“We have a group of committee members who are actively pursuing organizations and businesses in the community who would be willing to donate time/effort/money for this project,” mentioned Jones.

No business, marketing, or fundraising plans have been created at this point – but financial plans are in the works.

“Our goal is to open this facility without government funding and rely completely on our community backing the project, private citizens, organizations such as United Way, banks, businesses, etcetera,” said Jones.

As far as location of the new nursery, Jones says the committee hopes to get property donated in a central location, and have volunteers help build the facility at a very low cost.

“I hope people take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to use the nursery. If you’re stressed or if you need a break, there will be people there that care,” shared April. “I really hope whatever your situation is, I hope you take advantage of it.”

Some hope the nursery will be open sometime early 2017.

“As much as it hurts every day to not have October in my life, I am glad that other children can be saved because of what she went through,” said Christina Hall, October’s aunt.

We are working to find out how community members can donate, and will update you when we learn more.