Relief Nurseries Improve Child Welfare Outcomes

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

In a recent independent evaluation, Oregon’s Relief Nurseries demonstrated impressive results in reducing the number of days Relief Nursery children spend in costly out-of-home placements. The 2008 NPC Research evaluation also found that Relief Nursery children are less likely to be abused following their enrollment in the program and that Relief Nursery children are more likely than children statewide to be reunited with their parents.

The impact of Relief Nursery programs was found to be far-reaching, successfully linking families to health care resources, resulting in a 27 percent reduction in use of costly emergency room services by Relief Nursery families.

Relief Nurseries improved parenting among parents who received services for 1 year. Parents in Relief Nurseries showed a 117 percent increase in how often they read to their young children, a critical activity that provides the foundation for later language and literacy outcomes.


"Both of our Relief Nurseries are doing a tremendous job of keeping families together, we are lucky to have them," said Alicia Hays, director of the Lane County Commission on Children and Families. "All families experience stress which can have negative impacts on their children and the family structure. It’s learning how to deal with stress and improve problem-solving skills that really helps. This is just part of what Relief Nurseries do and it is particularly important to make sure that families have the support and resources they need as these hard economic times place additional stressors on families."

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

It is a time to focus on protecting our most vulnerable and trusting residents – the children of our community. No child should ever be neglected or abused, but, sadly, the maltreatment of children is a harsh reality in our community. Last year, Lane County Relief Nurseries provided services to 1,190 children and families at risk of abuse.

Relief Nurseries provide comprehensive services to families whose children are at high risk of abuse or neglect, including some who have had previous child welfare involvement. While services vary among the Relief Nurseries, all Relief Nurseries provide therapeutic early childhood education in classroom settings, home visits, parent education, support groups, respite care and case management and assistance with accessing other community services.

Founded in Eugene in 1976, there are currently 11 Relief Nurseries in Oregon, and four more in development. Lane County has two Relief Nurseries, one based in Eugene serving the metro area (Relief Nursery, Inc.) and one in Cottage Grove serving South Lane and North Douglas counties (Family Relief Nursery). These Relief Nurseries are part of the Lane County Commission on Children and Families system of prevention programs and strategies.