BEND, Ore. -

Halting child abuse and neglect in Central Oregon is at the forefront as MountainStar Family Relief Nursery in Bend and Juniper Junction Relief Nursery in Madras announced they are joining forces as of Monday.

This move mirrors the statewide effort in health and education sectors to provide cost-effective, region-wide services that decrease costs and increase collaboration and service efficiencies.

“The Wellness & Education Board of Central Oregon (WEBCO) is a strong proponent of improved wellness within our region. Bend and Madras, along with other Oregon Relief Nurseries, have documented success at reducing family stress, keeping young children safe, and ensuring they enter school ready to learn,” said Damien Sands, Executive Director for WEBCO. “On behalf of WEBCO, I am really excited to hear this news.”

While MountainStar will serve as the administrative hub for this joint county effort, both the Bend and Madras programs will be carried out with attention to local needs and services. Private funding raised by and for each community will remain in those communities, supporting local children and families. 

This partnership lays the groundwork to put into action the steps outlined in the recent report by the Children’s Trust Fund of Oregon’s to keep children safe from abuse. The annual report, “Preserving Childhood: Oregon's Leading Efforts to Prevent Child Abuse and Strengthen Families (full report), examined the prevalence and cost of child abuse in Oregon while also recommending twelve best practice prevention strategies.

As stated, child abuse affects more Oregon children than autism, juvenile diabetes and all forms of childhood cancer combined. In 2011, almost 11,600 children in Oregon were confirmed victims of abuse and neglect. 

Childhood trauma is linked to increased expenses in special education, foster care, juvenile delinquency, substance abuse, mental health issues and health issues later in life, costing Oregon an estimated $2.5 billion for one year of child abuse and neglect.

The report clearly outlined relief nurseries as a primary asset to reducing child abuse and preserving children.

“I am thrilled at this opportunity to join our efforts and direct more resources in each community to the work of preventing the abuse and neglect of young children,” said Tim Rusk, Executive Director for MountainStar Family Relief Nursery. 

About MountainStar Family Relief Nursery:

With the addition of the Juniper Junction satellite in Madras, nationally accredited MountainStar Family Relief Nursery (“MountainStar”) will provide crisis intervention and a therapeutic classroom services to 350 babies and young children aged 6-weeks to 5-years-old in Deschutes and Jefferson Counties. These children come from families with multiple risk factors for child abuse and neglect, including low income, homelessness, mental health issues, domestic violence, and substance abuse. Children at this critical age represent 1/3 of the victims of child abuse and are at a stage in their development when it is essential to have attached and attentive caretakers. According to an independent evaluation of Oregon Relief Nurseries by Portland State University, children attending a Relief Nursery for 6 months have 70% reduction in the risk of abuse and neglect.  Relief Nurseries have documented success in reducing family risk factors for child abuse and neglect, improving family functioning and self-sufficiency and reducing foster care utilization. For more information about MountainStar and its programs, please visit www.mountainstarfamily.org.