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Childhaven is a King County nonprofit organization that serves children between the ages of one month and five years who have been abused or neglected, or are at risk. The agency runs three programs: Therapeutic Child Care, the state's first program in which children referred by Child Protective Services or Child Welfare Services receive treatment geared toward their particular developmental needs; the Drug-Affected Infant Program, which includes children affected by in-utero or environmental drug use (and requires parents to enroll in outpatient chemical-dependency treatment); and the Crisis Nursery, King County's only 24-hour program to care for children when their parents face a crisis situation.
The agency encompasses four branches: the Broadway Branch in First Hill, the Eli Creekmore Memorial Branch in Burien, the Patrick L. Gogerty Branch in Auburn, and the Lake City Branch, the smallest of the branches, located in Lake City. In addition to other in-state organizations, agencies in South Carolina and Calgary have imitated Childhaven's model.
Childhaven was founded in 1909 by the Reverend Mark A. Matthews. Its original name was Seattle Day Nursery, and at the time it was one of only 50 child-care centers in the U.S. The agency's original nursery building was constructed in 1921 in Seattle's First Hill neighborhood; today, the site is home to Childhaven's Broadway Center, which was completed in 2004 thanks to the Capital Campaign, which raised $15.5 million.
Seattle Day Nursery's name and purpose transformed following a shift in leadership that started in 1973. That year, Patrick Gogerty became the organization's executive director, and he soon changed its focus, establishing the Therapeutic Child Care Program in 1977 with 10 children. This occurred two years before Washington state made the reporting of child abuse mandatory. Under Gogerty's guidance, the agency began to garner national acclaim; in 1984, it was the subject of a major article in Life magazine. The following year, Seattle Day Nursery was formally renamed Childhaven.
That same year, Congress threatened to cut off Childhaven's funding. Gogerty enlisted the help of his friend Rep. Jim McDermott, who brought the Life article to a House session and told the story of a specific child the agency had rescued. Persuaded, Congress continued to provide funding for Childhaven's work. Before Gogerty retired in March 1998, The Seattle Times published an editorial lauding his achievements; its headline was "Fighting for Kids Unable to Fight for Themselves."
Childhaven recently celebrated its centennial, and a number of events were planned, including a large-scale luncheon and several open houses.
Childhaven's Crisis Nursery, which offers parents up to 72 hours of emergency overnight child care, is one of roughly 70 such nurseries in the United States. (There are eight in Washington state.) Parents usually place their children in the Crisis Nursery through a voluntary and confidential process. The program serves children up to 7 years old and relies on foster families for overnight care and a North Seattle day-care center for daytime placement. Parents use the Crisis Nursery for a wide variety of reasons, including sleep deprivation, postpartum depression, or even participation in an in-patient chemical dependency treatment program. (Children of parents in drug treatment may receive Crisis Nursery care for as long as 30 days.)