GREAT FALLS — In 2011, October "Toby" Perez died at the age of two after being physically abused - and that's what brought about the idea of Toby's House Crisis Nursery. A crisis nursery is a licensed facility providing short term, non-medical residential care and supervision for children under six years of age, voluntarily brought by a parent of legal guardian due to a family crisis or stressful situation for no-cost childcare.
Toby's House spokeswoman Samantha Stutzman recalled, "It was another tragic, tragic child death. And so the board members came together and realized that this wasn’t just. It wasn’t just a want for the community, but it was an absolute necessity for this community."
And out of tragedy came an opportunity to open doors for families in need. Stutzman explained that it is for parents who fear they may hurt their child: "When they’re experiencing crisis, when they’re experiencing heartache, when they’re experiencing anything that could put the child at risk" - Toby’s House will serve as a refuge for children six and under who need a home as much as they do a house."
She continued, "We want it to be a home, we want it to be somewhere where these children can come and not feel like they’re at daycare or feel like they’re at school. We want them to come here and feel like they’re home. To be comfortable and be happy for the 72 hours that they’re with us."
Stutzman said, "Maybe if these doors had been opened they could have brought him to us and we could have had him for those 72 hours, for those three days and we could have contacted the agencies that were needed to be contacted to prevent such a tragedy. We would bring in a counselor we would maybe send those parents to a third party to figure out a long-term solution for them as a family
Toby's House is scheduled to open in early 2020; click here to visit the website to learn more, or to make a donation or volunteer.