Today we’d like to introduce you to Alana Ramey, MSW, MPA.
Hi Alana, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I began my journey with the Saint Louis Crisis Nursery in 2013. After working with children from families who were well-supported, I started thinking to myself, “Is there something else I could possibly do to make an even greater impact for kids?” I ran across the Crisis Nursery’s website, read through the positions, and knew it was the place I wanted to be!
I first joined the nursery team as an Intake Counselor, working directly with the children staying in one of our five safe havens across the region. I quickly learned the ropes of meeting the physical, mental, emotional, and social needs of the children while managing our 24-hour helpline. Not many people realize this, but I’m a HUGE introvert and answering the phones took a lot of coaching and support from my patient and talented coworkers. Completing intakes and discharges was definitely a learning curve, but before long, I was working with parents and getting them connected to critical services that would keep their children safe and their families together. I knew I had made the right decision to work with families in crisis and was so motivated from the work we did daily and the steady progress I saw families achieving that I decided to pursue master’s degrees in Social Work and Public Administration. That led to a brief break from the nursery to focus on finishing school, but I was back a week after graduation! I rejoined the agency as a Program Coordinator, supervising our largest respite location in south city St. Louis. I saw old faces and welcomed new ones as I adapted to managing our respite programming. I’ve since transitioned to the role of Training, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Manager and truly love it!
I’ve learned so much from this amazing team of diverse women about building relationships with children and families, providing trauma-informed care and support, crisis intervention, critical thinking, problem-solving, advocacy, day-to-day management, etc… from my years as an Intake Counselor to my years as Program Coordinator, and am so eager to share that knowledge with those joining our agency. I’ve had a life-long passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion, so it’s coming full circle to be able to amplify and guide that for our agency. With a footprint that spans the region, I look forward every day to making the greater impact for children and families that I desired when I first stumbled upon the Crisis Nursery.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Being there firsthand to see the impact of trauma on the health and wellbeing of children and their families is difficult to work. I hadn’t been at the nursery long before I realized that many of the children had experienced more pain and trauma by age 4 or 5 than many adults have ever faced and will ever face in their lifetimes, myself included. What we also get to see, though, is the incredible resiliency these children epitomize. We also get to see many of the families achieve stability and thrive; that’s the difference having adequate support makes. So, it can be challenging to not take work home, but I’ve also learned along the way how to refill my cup so that I may continue to pour into others.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I love talking about the nursery! Thirty-five years ago, the Saint Louis Crisis Nursery opened its doors for the first time as a safe haven for children when their family faces a crisis like homelessness, domestic violence, illness, or overwhelming parental stress. We know that when parents are experiencing stress, mistakes are sometimes made, and child abuse and neglect can occur. The Crisis Nursery supports families when they need it most. From the time the doors first opened until today, the Crisis Nursery has never closed. We are open, answering the helpline and keeping children safe 24 / 7 / 365. In those 35 years, I’m incredibly proud to say our agency has walked alongside at-risk families to prevent child abuse and neglect, resulting in: 125,000 children being kept safe at one of the Nurseries. 4.8 MILLION hours of emergency crisis care for kids. 63,000 families served. 99% of children involved with the Crisis Nursery have NO child abuse hotline report. 98% of the children stay with their family and do NOT have to go into foster care.
Since 1986, the Crisis Nursery has expanded to five Nursery locations and 10 Outreach Centers to help families all across our region: from Arnold to Ferguson and from Wentzville to East St. Louis. Parents bring children to one of the Nurseries for 2-5 days free of charge and voluntarily. The children receive a medical exam, nutritious meals, trauma-informed care, Art and Play Therapy, and take-home necessities. Parents receive crisis counseling, in-home visits, and parent education groups at one of our Outreach Centers.
What sets us apart is the heart of the extraordinary staff, our willingness to do what it takes to be able to serve a family, our commitment to making a presence and being there when and where we’re needed, and the respect we have for each and every child and family that walks through our doors or gives us a call through our 24-hour helpline.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Please spread the word about the nursery! Maybe there’s a family out there who might be encouraged by you to reach out to us for a little extra support and a listening ear. Maybe someone is interested in starting their career with us. Maybe someone with some extra time on their hands is looking for a meaningful way to spend a few hours of their week. We’d love to talk to anyone about those potential interests and all of the other many ways one can get involved with the nursery.
- Website: www.crisisnurserykids.org
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/stlcrisisnursery
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/SaintLouisCrisisNursery
- Twitter: twitter.com/STLCrisisKids
Alana Ramey Saint Louis Crisis Nursery