Relief Nursery

About This Program

Target Population: Families with limited income, raising children birth to age six with multiple stressors

For children/adolescents ages: 0 – 6

For parents/caregivers of children ages: 0 – 6

Program Overview

The core services at Relief Nursery are home visiting, parenting education, respite care, basic needs support, and therapeutic early childhood classrooms. Relief Nursery provides support services to families with a limited-income, who are raising children birth to age six, with multiple stressors which may include domestic violence, addiction, mental health challenges, unemployment, unstable housing, being a teen parent, parental or child history of trauma, etc. Additional services may include child and family counseling, early intervention/early childhood special education, and addiction recovery peer support services.

Program Goals

The goals of Relief Nursery are:

For Children:

  • Improve social skills and emotional literacy, including the ability to identify, express, and regulate emotions, build friendships, and solve problems.
  • Identification of developmental delays and connection to early intervention / early special education services as needed
  • Identification of trauma, chronic stress, behavioral challenges, or other indicators of child mental health concerns, and connection to child centered play therapy / family therapy as needed

For Parents/Family Caregivers:

  • Achieve self-identified goals
  • Connect with needed resources
  • Meet basic needs such as food, clothing, and transportation
  • Enhance understanding of child development
  • Establish a more supportive parent/child relationship
  • Strengthen parenting skills
  • Increase self-care and resilience
  • Build connections with other families
  • Reduce likelihood of abusing or neglecting their child(ren)

Logic Model

View the Logic Model for Relief Nursery.

Essential Components

The essential components of Relief Nursery include:

  • Families hear about Relief Nursery from a variety of sources:
    • Pediatricians
    • DHS caseworkers
    • Other social service providers
    • Personal acquaintances who have participated at Relief Nursery
  • Services are family-driven, and parents typically reach out because they:
    • Are experiencing a crisis
    • Need parenting support
    • Have a concern about their child
  • Intake:
    • An intake worker completes a brief screening of family needs and determines whether the family qualifies, or if a home visit is appropriate to make that determination.
      • Families who do not qualify, are provided with resource referrals
      • Families who qualify for services are assigned an outreach worker
  • Outreach:
    • The outreach worker provides:
      • Home visits focused on crisis stabilization
      • Parenting education promoting healthy child development
      • Assistance to the family in connecting with community resources
    • Families are also offered respite childcare with the purpose of giving parents time for self-care and for pursuing activities that will bring greater stability to the family.
  • Parenting Education:
    • Parenting education is provided to all families during home visits.
    • Parenting education classes are also offered, providing families an opportunity to connect with other families and build their social support network.
      • Relief Nursery provides families the following during classes to reduce potential barriers to participation:
        • Transportation
        • A meal
        • Childcare
  • Therapeutic Early Childhood Program (TECP):
    • Based on family need and space available, some children are enrolled in the TECP.
      • A teacher/home visitor works with the child in a therapeutic, small group classroom setting with a focus on social emotional development.
      • Classroom teachers provide monthly home visits to the families of these children which are designed to:
        • Continue strengthening positive parenting skills
        • Promote healthy child development
        • Support the family’s emergent needs
  • Early Childhood Developmental Screenings:
    • While enrolled in outreach, all children in the family who are under the age of 6 are screened regularly for developmental delays using the Ages and Stages Questionnaire.
    • While in the TECP, the enrolled child(ren) are screened.
      • If a child’s scores indicate possible delays, staff support the family in connecting with early intervention/early special education services.
  • Transportation, Clothing Closet and Food Pantry:
    • Most of the families served by Relief Nursery struggle with basic needs. To help address barriers to accessing needs, Relief Nursery provides:
      • Transportation support
      • On-site clothing closet
      • On-site food pantry

Program Delivery

Child/Adolescent Services

Relief Nursery directly provides services to children/adolescents and addresses the following:

  • High-risk of child welfare system involvement, identified or unidentified developmental delays, disrupted attachment or mental health/behavioral concerns, toxic stress
Services Involve Family/Support Structures:

This program involves the family or other support systems in the individual's treatment: Additional family members are included in direct services (such as home visits, parenting classes, and family events).

Parent/Caregiver Services

Relief Nursery directly provides services to parents/caregivers and addresses the following:

  • Lack of positive parenting skills/knowledge of child development; disrupted or insecure parent/child attachment; lack of social supports; lack of healthy coping strategies; lack of access to basic needs, supports, and resources

Recommended Intensity:

Outreach: At least one monthly 1- to 1.5-hour home visit and one monthly 3-hour respite care sessions based on family need/program capacity. Therapeutic Early Childhood Program: For infants: One weekly 3-hour classroom day and one weekly 60- to 90-minute home visit; Toddler/preschool: 2-4 three-hour classroom days per week + one monthly 1- to 1.5-hour home visit. Parenting Education: Provided to all families during home visits and weekly 1.5-hour group-based parenting classes.

Recommended Duration:

The average time a family participates is individualized depending on family need (could be as short as 1 month or over multiple years).

Delivery Settings

This program is typically conducted in a(n):

  • Birth Family Home
  • Community-based Agency / Organization / Provider
  • School Setting (Including: Day Care, Day Treatment Programs, etc.)


This program does not include a homework component.


Relief Nursery has materials available in a language other than English:


For information on which materials are available in this language, please check on the program's website or contact the program representative (contact information is listed at the bottom of this page).

Resources Needed to Run Program

The typical resources for implementing the program are:

  • Therapeutic preschool classrooms and materials
  • Outdoor play area
  • Space for group gatherings
  • Office space, computers, and email
  • Kitchen and groceries
  • FTE including Executive Director, Program Director, direct services staff, and additional support staff Car for transportation to home visits

Manuals and Training

Prerequisite/Minimum Provider Qualifications

Direct service staff should have a Bachelor’s degree in education, family services, early childhood education, or related field with early childhood teaching experience or the ability to obtain a degree in the field within two years from date of hire. They should also have experience supporting children and families experiencing poverty, stress, and other barriers, and possess professional writing skills. They also need to have a current valid driver’s license with acceptable driving record/insurance coverage and current Pediatric First Aid/CPR and Food Handler’s cards (or the ability to get them).

Supervisors should have a Bachelor’s degree in early childhood education, social work or related field or ability to obtain a degree in the field within two years from date of hire. Supervisors should also have two years of experience in early childhood classrooms, two years providing home visiting services to families at risk for child abuse and neglect experience with reflective supervision, and an ability to exercise discretion and confidentiality, take initiative and respond effectively to emergent/crisis situations. They also need to have a current valid driver’s license with acceptable driving record/insurance coverage and current Pediatric First Aid/CPR and Food Handler’s cards (or the ability to get them).

Manual Information

There is a manual that describes how to deliver this program.

Program Manual(s)

The program manuals consist of:

  • Carpenter, J. (2020). Relief Nursery therapeutic classroom handbook. Relief Nursery.
  • Carpenter, J. (2020). Relief Nursery family support and home visiting handbook. Relief Nursery.
  • Carpenter, J. (2020). Relief Nursery training and professional development handbook. Relief Nursery.

Email the program contact to access these handbooks.

Training Information

There is training available for this program.

Training Contact:
Training Type/Location:

Training is provided onsite, via Zoom, and through prerecorded webinars.

Number of days/hours:

Staff is required to have at least 24 training hours per year. There are 10 “Core Trainings,” which are required within the first year. These are 2 hours apiece. Staff typically complete far more than the minimum required hours.

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research

Eddy, J. M., Shortt, J. W., Martinez, C. R., Holmes, A., Wheeler, A., Gau, J., Seeley, J., & Grossman, J. (2020). Outcomes from a randomized controlled trial of the Relief Nursery program. Prevention Science, 21(1), 36–46.

Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
Number of Participants: 360 (180 primary caregivers and 180 children)


  • Age — Caregivers: Mean=29 years; Children: Not specified
  • Race/Ethnicity — Caregivers: 86% White, 35% Latino, and 8% Multiracial; Children: 83% White, 42% Latino, and 15% Multiracial
  • Gender — Caregivers: 95% Female; Children: Not specified
  • Status — Caregivers: 95% Female; Children: Not specified

Location/Institution: Eugene–Springfield metropolitan area

Summary: (To include basic study design, measures, results, and notable limitations)
The purpose of the study was to present findings of the Relief Nursery prevention program for families with young children considered at risk for child abuse and neglect. Participant families were randomly assigned to one of two conditions, the full program condition (Relief Nursery) or the respite care condition. Measures utilized include the Family Functioning Style Scale (FFS), the Social Support Questionnaire (SSQ), the Child Abuse Potential Inventory (CAPI), the Alabama Parenting Questionnaire (APQ), the Being a Parent (BAP), the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CESD), the Parental Stress Index (PSI) and the Child Behavior Checklist–Parent (CBCL). Results indicate that differences were found between the conditions in terms of perceived helpfulness and satisfaction with services and in terms of social support, in each case favoring the full program condition. Limitations include small sample size; lack of significant findings on maltreatment-related outcomes; sample may be different from the population of families who are at risk for child abuse and neglect, and quite different from the population of families who are at high risk for child maltreatment; and lack of follow-up.

Length of controlled postintervention follow-up: None.

Additional References

Bartlett, J. D., Smith, S., & Bringewatt, E. (2017). Helping young children who have experienced trauma: Policies and strategies for early care and education. National Center for Children in Poverty.

Gandhi, E. V., Nagel, A., & Speth, T. (2017). Evaluation of Relief Nurseries in Oregon: Commissioned by the Oregon Association of Relief Nurseries: July 1, 2014–June 30, 2016. Education Northwest.

Green, B. L. (2011). Child Welfare Outcomes Report Oregon Relief Nurseries: 2008-2010. Portland State University. Center for Improvement of Child and Family Services.

Contact Information

Leslie Finlay, MA
Agency/Affiliation: Relief Nursery, Inc.
Phone: (541) 343-9706

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: March 2022

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: September 2022

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: October 2022