Providence House Spotlight

It’s Time to Spread the Word About Providence House and the Great Work They’re Doing to Protect Children and Families in Greater Cleveland.

Imagine you’re one paycheck away from homelessness like so many Americans—and you lose your job. Now imagine you’re a single mother without support, and suddenly you can no longer put food on the table or keep a roof over your heads. Sadly, that’s the reality for too many people, especially in today’s world. 

But, there are community partners who are stepping up to provide the support children and families needs when life takes an unexpected turn. In Cleveland, that partner is Providence House. We had the good fortune to catch up with Natalie Leek, President & CEO to learn more about their services—and how Mace is helping empower their participants and staff to stay safe.

What can you tell us about Providence House?

We support families that are experiencing crisis situations like homelessness, domestic violence, and substance abuse. These families are at a point where they are unable to provide basic needs—heat, water, and food—for their children. What makes our program unique is that children stay with us around the clock, but we do not take custody of them. They remain in their parents custody, and then we work with over 130 local community organizations to support and serve their needs. 

Whether it's treatment, education, employment, housing, domestic violence intervention— whatever the families needs may be, we support them. Maybe a child needs hearing and speech intervention or medical care—we provide the link to services. We even provide parenting education support. 

An interesting fact is that over 80% of our families were system involved themselves as youth, so our goal is to prevent foster care. Unfortunately, we know that 70% of kids aging out of foster care end up right back in that system with their own children. We see that in our population, and we're really trying to break those cycles of poverty and violence. 

Can you tell us more about the kids in your care?

These kids are in the midst of very traumatic situations, whether it's from community violence or watching mom experience domestic violence. Plus, it’s traumatic for a child to be separated from their biological parents. Our goal for our kids and families is about helping them feel safe, because unless you're safe, you can't even accept the help needed to move forward. You can't even hear the inputs and respond to treatment, therapy and intervention.

We really try to deescalate some of the stimulus, and eliminate some of the fears for these children like: Where am I going to sleep? How am I going to eat? Is mom going to be safe? We provide safety, order, structure and help them transition in a more peaceful way. Part of our parenting program and education isn't just about good parenting and conscious discipline. It's about how do you create those routines and practices for your child to deescalate some of the trauma. 

How many kids make their way to you?

We serve about just over 300 children a year directly at our campus, which is located on the westside of Cleveland in Ohio City. In 2022, we supported 741 children and families in the community. About 200 were in the nursery, so our reach is broader than the physical crisis nursery. 

We understand your organization is growing. What can you tell us about the new facility?

For the last five years, over 400 children each year haven't been able to get into the crisis nursery, because there’s more demand for services than we can support. That’s why we're expanding to the eastside of Cleveland. 

We're in the middle of a capital campaign and building our new crisis nursery on Buckeye Rd. This facility will help support another 250 children a year. The facility should be finished in June of 2023, and we should be actively supporting families in those surrounding communities by summer. 

How is Mace supporting your cause?

Mace is launching its personal safety training program this coming month. We're thrilled to take advantage of that for our staff, which is predominantly a female workforce, working 24 hours per day. This type of training is also great for the moms and children we support. 93% of our moms are single parents living in relatively unsafe neighborhoods. They frequently have to walk to and from places or use public transit with little kids in tow. We want them to be safe when they’re trying so hard to get their lives back on track. Beyond training, Mace is also donating personal safety products like personal alarms and pepper spray to help keep our team and families safe.

How can everyone else help your organization? 

Certainly donations to support our ongoing operations and sponsoring kids in our care are helpful. Equally important is letting people know we're here. We want families in crisis who have kids to know we're here to help them. Our services are completely free. But there are so many families who don't know where to go for help. Or if they’re afraid to ask for help for fear they will put their family in jeopardy. We want to keep kids safe and their families together—that's why we're here. 

About Providence House

Providence House is Ohio’s first and one of the nation's longest-operating crisis nurseries among the 70+ in operation in the U.S. and Canada. They offer free, voluntary, non-custodial emergency shelter to children—newborn through twelve years old—actively living in crisis situations that place them at risk of abuse or neglect.

Providence House has cared for and advocated for more than 14,000 children and families in crisis throughout its history. They deliver a holistic, integrated program focused on child abuse prevention and family preservation. Providence House provides comprehensive service based on the latest industry research and evidence-based programs and practices to help prevent child abuse and neglect and reduce foster care placements. 

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