CI Heroes: Hotline workers answering influx of calls to a crisis nursery hotline

CI Heroes

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD)– A Peoria crisis nursery hotline is seeing an increase in calls during COVID-19 from families in distress. Three women are helping parents navigate uncertain and stressful times, and they are this week’s CI Heroes.

Since March 23, Crittenton Centers in Peoria has seen more than 1,100 people come to its doors for donations.

“It was rewarding and I’m glad we were able to be there for families when they needed us,” said Kim Cade, a crisis nursery parent educator with Crittenton Centers.

During the stay-at-home order, the not-for-profit handed out more than 69,000 diapers in three months compared to 60,000 for all of 2019. The crisis nursery hotline is continuing to see an increase in people calling in searching for guidance.

“Families that were calling us because maybe the WIC office was closed, so they weren’t able to get their WIC coupons, so they didn’t know where to find formula,” said Michelle Spanbauer, a crisis nursery coordinator with Crittenton Centers. “Or when they went to the store, the formula that they’re used to getting wasn’t on the shelves anymore.”

The center offers more than diapers, wipes and formula.

“We also do parent support groups,” said Cade. “We do parent-child interaction groups and that’s where parents can come in and get support with each other and with me.”

Cade and Spanbauer’s voices are two of three you might hear when dialing the center’s crisis nursery hotline.

“When that phone rings, that family takes priority, and I think we sacrifice a lot to be able to meet those calls for the families, but they know that we’re here,” said Spanbauer. “They know, any time day or night, that they can call us and that’s really important.”

The crisis nursery hotline is available 24/7. It fulfills the center’s mission to protect and nurture children and families in Central Illinois. The hotline number is 309-674-4125.

The Peoria City/County health department clarifies Wednesday that WIC offices have never been closed during COVID-19 in the below statement:

In response to COVID, Peoria City/County Health Department was closed to the public from mid-March-July 6th. During that time all WIC services continued to be offered via phone, certified mail, or curbside pickup. USDA has waived the physical presence requirement for WIC, so our services will continue to be offered via phone for the time being. Clients can sign up for or continue WIC services by calling 309-679-6076, Monday-Friday between the hours of 8 am-4:30 pm. Because of the increased time needed for phone visits, clients will need to leave a message and our staff will return their call as soon as possible. This can take up to 4 days currently, due to the high call volume.

Michelle Compton RD, LDN, CLC
Child and Family Health Program Coordinator
Peoria City/County Health Department

Nominate someone you know to be our next CI Hero by CLICKING HERE.

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