Bringing a newborn home for the first time is a momentous occasion for all moms. But imagine giving birth and being released from the hospital with a baby but no home to return to. That’s the situation countless parents find themselves in every year. And it’s a scenario that inspired Family Promise of Spokane in Washington to create Infant House, a transitional shelter specifically designed for families with newborns.
“A couple years ago, we had a situation where a mom had a cesarean and right after surgery, was released into a communal shelter,” said Family Promise of Spokane Family Program Services Director Serena Graves. “The risk of harm to a baby is large when going into a communal living shelter, and that one situation started the conversations that eventually led to the idea of Infant House.”
Infant House officially opened in 2021 after a local medical group donated the necessary funds for Family Promise of Spokane to purchase a property equipped to house multiple families. Today, Infant House features seven bedrooms and has seen 31 families complete stays before transitioning into stable and secure housing.
“I didn’t know anyone would let our whole family be together,” said a mom who is currently staying at Infant House. “It’s the best thing that could have happened.”
The combination of privacy and comradery that Infant House offers families is what sets it apart from other shelters. Families are afforded the peace of mind to care for their infants in private rooms, away from the risk of outside infection that could harm a baby’s fragile immune system. At the same time, instead of feeling isolated, they’re connected to other families with newborns who are in a similar situation.
“It’s nice to feel like someone is in the same boat as me and understands what I’m going through,” said another Infant House mom. “No one is judging me or feeling sorry for me, they’re just someone who gets it.”
On top of the emotional support that families receive, Family Promise of Spokane provides access to a host of housing and health services. For instance, health providers are available for occupational therapy, and Family Promise offers parenting classes, and works with families to address their unique needs, including housing solutions.
“Other places tell you something and then don’t follow through,” said another Infant House mom. “Family Promise has done what they said they would. They have really pushed for us to get a place of our own, and I’m so grateful.”
Navigating the sleepless nights of a new parent is taxing on the mind and body. Adding homelessness to that equation creates unimaginable stress and anxiety. Thankfully, Infant House has eased some of that tension for countless families.
A third mother staying at Infant House with her newborn summed things up, “Being here has helped so much with stress. Having so many people who feel like they got my back if I need them has been a relief.”