Family Relief Nursery

At the Family Relief Nursery, we strive to walk with children and families, support their nurturing relationships, and strengthen the family unit so that we highlight and increase their stability and resilience.


Since 1992, the Family Relief Nursery has offered a holistic, positive intervention to families. We serve families with children ages 6 weeks through 5 years old in Multnomah County.  The program supports families experiencing stressors associated with child abuse and neglect. By design we follow a core, state-wide model that includes the following services:

Our classroom supports the social, emotional, and cognitive functioning of each child. We support the promotion of healthy growth of children who have experienced challenges, adversity, or trauma. TECP teachers provide a nurturing, culturally responsive, and developmentally appropriate environment for children. This environment is child-driven, intentional, consistent, and utilizes research-based interventions. We encourage children to explore their surroundings, engage in imaginative play, control their feelings, and develop strong partnerships with other children and their teacher. The classroom teacher is also a family’s home visitor. Through these visits, they support each family in their home at least once per month.

Each family is provided a home visitor, who is also the child(ren)’s teacher. Home visits are facilitated using a strength-based and family-focused approach. With this, we consider the unique needs of each child and family’s goals. Visits integrate parenting support and education, healthy development of children, and parent/child interactions.

Parenting education and support is provided to all parent’s and caregivers enrolled in the Relief Nursery. Through home visits and/or groups and workshops, we use an evidence-based curriculum that is tailored to the needs of each family. We are currently using the Nurturing Parenting 12-week curriculum and will be transitioning to the Circle of Security Parenting curriculum by the end of the year.

Outreach services are available to all wait-list families who are waiting for space in TECP, and/or families who are not interested in TECP but still want ongoing case management and parent education. Respite care is available to outreach families on a first come, first served basis. 

We are committed to helping connect families to necessary resources (i.e: food boxes, clothing, other program referrals, etc). Each of our sites has emergency food and a clothing closet. Families can access these resources by connecting with their home visitor.

All services are provided at no charge to families.

"“We are meeting families where they are, depending on what their individual needs are. Everybody comes with something different.”
Crystal Ross portrait
Crystal Ross
Program Director; Family Relief Nursery & Drop-in Services

Contact Us

Family Relief Nursery
2609 SE 136th Ave.
Portland, OR 97236    

By The Numbers

Children Served annually
Families Served Annually
Family Relief Nursery Staff

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Meet Our Team

Portrait of Crystal

Crystal Ross

Program Director

I have worked at VOA Oregon for over 10 years with children and families but have been in the field of early childhood for almost 20 years. From meeting families where they are; watching children reach milestones and developmental goals; and supporting caregivers through their parenting journey; it is all very fulfilling and exciting to be a part of. I really enjoy connecting with community partners and finding creative and inclusive approaches to our work with families. Outside of work, I enjoy reading, cooking, traveling, and being with my family and pets.

Catherine Agrimson portrait

Catherine Agrimson


Hello, I am Catherine Agrimson and am brand new to the team and the Relief Nursery staff. It is a pleasure working with your children here and seeing how they grow and develop life skills. I have worked with families and children here in Portland for over 35 years and have taken many child development classes, trainings, workshops, and raised two daughters as a single parent. Parenting was the most challenging job I have ever had the responsibility to do and know the many opportunities that it brings for personal growth.  I love working with families and children and seeing their growth as well.

Some of my favorite things I like to do are gardening, reading, walking, and enjoying my family. I look forward to getting to know you and your child through the Relief Nursery.

Portrait of Mikayla

Mikayla Green Albano

Administrative Assistant

Hi! My name is Mikayla and I am so excited to join this team and get to know all of you. Some of my applicable work experience includes preschool teacher’s assistant positions, children’s birthday party leader, nannying positions, HR assistant, my bachelor’s degree in Culture & Diversity, crisis response work with Syrian Refugees in the Middle East, volunteering at the Portland Rescue Mission, and volunteering with SUN (School’s Uniting Neighborhoods). Some of my favorite things are my spouse, yoga, sunny beach afternoons, the feeling I get when I cook something and it turns out well, sushi, and sunflowers.

Portrait of Cynthia

Cynthia St John


I have been working at the VOA Oregon’s Family Relief Nursery for over five years as a Lead ECES II, Teacher and Home visitor.  I have over 13 years of experience working in Relief Nursery programs and over 20 years of experience in working with young children and families in various capacities. Seeing the growth and progress in young children during their time with us is the most rewarding aspect of teaching in the therapeutic classroom. In my free time, I enjoy hiking and biking with my family, walking my two dogs, reading e-books, and baking cookies.   

Maria Lopez

Early Childhood Education Specialist II

Hello! My name is Maria Lopez. I’m new to the Family Relief Nursery and I’m excited to continue getting to know the children and families. I’ve been working with children for the past 20 years in various capacities. I love seeing children grasp a difficult concept, learn a new skill or just seeing their personality shine through play is priceless.  In my free time I enjoy spending time with my daughter and family. We love exploring Oregon and taking pictures!

Portrait of Leola

Leola Wheeler

Lead Bus Driver

I have been working for the VOA Oregon’s Family Relief Nursery as our program’s bus driver for 10 years. I also have experience as a school bus driver and worked for Fred Meyer for 22 years. I enjoy doing crafts when I can find the time, including knitting, crocheting, card making and sewing.

Portrait of Kate

Kate Zabertini

Site Supervisor

I am still brand new as the Site Supervisor at VOA Oregon Family Relief Nursery and am learning so much so fast! I earned both my B.S. and M.Ed. at the University of Minnesota where I began my career working at their Institute of Child Development as a teacher trainer. Over the years I’ve been part of Head Start, NAEYC, and other organizations supporting the work of teachers who impact the lives of young children. I feel very fortunate to have joined such a strong team of people at VOA Oregon who are devoted to excellent service and deep understanding of the importance of a solid start for every child and support for the families who surround them. 

Portrait of Candy

Candy Fleming


Hello! My name is Candy Fleming. I am excited to be part of the Family Relief Nursery with Volunteers of America Oregon. While I am new to the Therapeutic Classroom model, I have been involved in supporting children and their families, in some facet, for over 25 years. Seeing children and families on successful paths is the highlight of the work I do! In my free time I enjoy spending time with my family and pets, as well as being outdoors; hiking, gardening, kayaking, camping, or just absorbing the sun. 

Thank You Partners!