Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery
1004 E 8th Ave
Spokane, WA 99202
(509) 535-3155

Contact: Amber Killingbeck

Visit Our Website


The Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery is a community-funded, non-profit organization dedicated to shaping the future of Spokane by keeping kids (Newborn to age 6) safe and strengthening families. Every year we keep nearly 4,000 children safe, loved and nurtured. In addition, we strongly believe that strengthening families through our parent education and support programs enhances the outcomes for the children we see.


Core Services


Emergency Childcare: When parents find themselves in distress, (emotional, domestic violence, homelessness, depression, financial, etc.) they call the Crisis Nursery to ask for help. They may have been referred by another social service agency or heard about us through word of mouth. Nursery staff members schedule the family for an immediate intake session where every effort is made to assess the cause(s) of the parental stress.  These parents bring their children under the age of seven to the Crisis Nursery where they are taken care of in our safe and nurturing environment.  Children can stay at the Crisis Nursery for up to three days, or longer if circumstances are dire. Care is provided by a staff of house parents trained in early childhood development with support from numerous volunteers. While they are at the Crisis Nursery, children receive food, clothing, diapers and anything else they might need. The Crisis Nursery is licensed to care for up to 32 children day and night. Accessibility to parents is enhanced by the fact that we remain open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.


Family Support: The purpose of Family Support at the Crisis Nursery is to work with parents to assess the causes of parental stress and give them the skills and resources they need to take better care of their children. These services include parent education classes, crisis phone counseling, and follow-up support through our HOPE Program which offers emotional support and referrals to other community agencies that can help alleviate the stress that impedes their ability to care for their children in a safe and loving way. Almost all parents who use these services are experiencing crises like poverty, homelessness, substance abuse, and domestic violence.


The centerpiece of our Family Support Program is parent education. The Crisis Nursery offers a formal parent education program consisting of a series of 8-week classes that are offered approximately eight to ten times a year. Our parenting classes teach parents about what is developmentally appropriate for their children, how to discipline in a positive way that teaches and guides rather than punishes, and equips parents with practical tools for handling challenging situations.

Basic Necessity Support: In addition to providing respite care and support to area families, the Crisis Nursery provides another invaluable service to the community; we offer free diapers, formula, wipes, baby food, and other items we have available to families in need. Offering this service to the community has helped hold over many families when their financial resources were not able to cover all of these expenses. Regardless of the circumstances, we know that by offering this service to our families, we are making sure that children do not go without needed formula, a clean diaper, or other important necessities.

History:  The Crisis Nursery’s vision is to provide immediate refuge for children and support to strengthen families. This evolved from the tragic story of Vanessa Kay Behan, a Spokane girl who died from child abuse injuries at the age of two. Following her death, a group of local business people established the Crisis Nursery so that parents would have a safe place to bring their children in the face of crises. 

The Crisis Nursery helps parents who are having difficulty providing safe shelter and care for their children. They may be dealing with issues as complex as substance abuse, domestic violence and homelessness; or, they may just be exhausted and worn-out from the demands of parenting.

Volunteer Opportunities:

There are many ways you can support the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery in its work to prevent child abuse and neglect. Here are just a few ideas:


Consider volunteering your time!

Volunteers are the heart of the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery. We currently need child care volunteers, and volunteers to assist with clerical support, house maintenance, fund-raising activities and more. 

Please see a list of in-nursery volunteer opportunities to find out more about the Nursery's current openings  .

Are you part of a group wanting to give a few hours of your time?  We also are in need of Diaper Drive volunteers May 10th-13th.

Click the above links to learn more on the Crisis Nursery's website or visit