About Us

What is a Relief Nursery?

Oregon has 25 Relief Nurseries operating throughout the state. The Family Relief Nursery provides services to children under the age of 6 with families who have multiple risk factors and stresses linked to neglect and abuse. Family Relief Nursery services are non-stigmatizing, voluntary, strengths-based, and culturally applicable. Our staff works with families to create and achieve appropriate early childhood benchmarks and healthy family functioning. Parents voluntarily enroll in Relief Nursery services hoping to break the intergenerational cycle of abuse and neglect.

Who do Relief Nursery Services help?

Relief Nurseries serve the most challenged, vulnerable families in our state with a strength-based approach to child and family development. The Relief Nursery program has an individualized plan for each child to help him or her thrive and each family become stable and connected. The majority of families using Relief Nursery services comprise of a single parent (94% are women) living in poverty and facing a myriad of challenges raising their children. Upon referral, clients participate in an initial home visit to assess risk factors and immediate needs. Relief Nursery families average 16 changeable risk factors. For example:

  • 84% of parents are currently experiencing high levels of stress
  • 49% have a history of intimate partner (domestic) violence
  • 56% of parents have a mental health problems
  • 43% of parents were raised by an alcoholic or substance abusing parent
  • 41% of parents have current anger management issues
  • 33% have a history of incarceration
  • 81% of primary caregivers were unemployed at intake

Why is intervention at a young age important?

Research on early brain development has clearly documented that engaged, nurturing parenting supports the early attachment relationships that are critical to children’s development and school readiness; while harsh, disengaged, and unpredictable parenting is associated with child maltreatment and other negative outcomes like lower school achievement, lower employment as an adult, and increased incarceration. Please see the video links on our homepage for more information.

Relief Nurseries keep children safe and families together.


Oregon’s nationally recognized Relief Nursery model provides high-risk families with the intensive support they need for their children to grow up safe, healthy and ready for school. Children participate in therapeutic classrooms with low adult-child ratios, and families receive home visits and parent education that promote healthy parenting and child development.

What makes the program Therapeutic?

Family Relief Nursery designs each intervention program specific to the at-risk family’s needs. Each enrolled family gets individualized goals and case management support with a social/emotional focus. All Relief Nurseries provide parenting education, support through home visits and group activities. Teachers and volunteers empower children, keep the adult/child ratio low, and provide a safe, developmentally appropriate environment. This “Therapeutic” program is designed to both heal and prevent child abuse and neglect.