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.

COVID-19 Update

We are excited to announce that we have reopened a Therapeutic Early Childhood Program (TECP) classroom at our East Site. This is available to infants 6 weeks to 2 years old on Monday’s and Wednesday’s. In addition, we are now offering a TECP classroom for preschoolers on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s. We continue to offer respite for families at our East Site on every other Wednesday. For more information, please call us at 503-972-9643 or connect with your home visitor.

Home Visits are currently being held both in person (outdoor only/socially distanced) and virtually, depending on family need and preference. We are excited to announce that we will be resuming indoor home visits starting May 2nd, 2022, and your home visitor will work with you if flexibility is needed to continue visits outdoors or virtually. The safety of our staff and clients remains a top priority. When interacting with our staff masks/face coverings, maintaining social distancing, and health screenings for staff and clients will continue to be required. 

We will continue to track the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. As we follow local and state regulations, we will update you as these guidelines may change.


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.

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 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.   

Portrait of Cali

Cali Hodge

Administrative Assistant

I’ve worked with the VOA Oregon Family Relief Nursery since late 2019. I love the holistic and strengths-based approach that FRN uses to partner with the families we serve. As the administrative assistant, I value the opportunities that my position offers to assist in building and maintaining equitable and trauma-informed systems that support our program’s families and staff. In addition to my time with FRN, I’ve also worked at the elementary school level as a recess coordinator, environmental educator, and SUN after-school program coordinator. I am currently pursuing my Master of Education at the University of Washington. When I’m not working, I enjoy reading, cooking, running, cheering on women’s sports (go Thorns!), and spending time with friends and family.

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.

Thank You Partners!