OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Waller (with scissors) and Multnomah County Commissioner Diane McKeel lead a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new childcare center at the East Multnomah County Courthouse. Rosabel Kott, 7, middle, helps out.
The East Multnomah County Courthouse in Gresham just got a bit more child friendly.

The Multnomah Bar Foundation announced the opening of the CourtCare facility, a safe-haven for children as their parents work out their legal issues at 18480 S.E. Stark St.

Though the ribbon cutting for the space was June 24, the CourtCare facility officially opened on April 13 on a part-time schedule.

The CourtCare facility is most in demand when families are attending court for domestic violence or restraining order issues, so that’s when the child care is open as well. The hours are 1-5 p.m. Mondays and 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays

Volunteers of America operates the child care facility with funds from the Multnomah Bar Foundation, donations and state and federal funding.

Unlike the CourtCare in Multnomah County Court’s downtown building, which was created by converting a jury room in 2001, the Gresham courthouse building was constructed with child care in mind.

“We saw how important it was for the (downtown Portland) courthouse that when the Gresham courthouse was being built, we wanted a dedicated space,” said Amy Angel, vice president of the Multnomah Bar Foundation, which is the fundraising arm of the Multnomah Bar Association. “If you’re going to court to get a restraining order for domestic violence, the last thing you need is to have young children listening to what you’re talking to the judge about.”

The room looks just like any other day care facility with its own bathroom for children and a place to prepare food or formula for the youngsters. There are toys, snacks, games and books

Many families going through volatile legal issues also don’t have a lot of support and don’t feel safe leaving their children with anyone else, Angel said.

“It’s nice to have a secure, safe place in the courthouse where the children can play and be happy and have a good time,” Angel said.

The CourtCare facility accepts children age 6 weeks to 10-years-old.

Though demand has not yet been high for the service, Angel said she expects it to pick up in the next few months. The downtown CourtCare facility has served nearly 13,000 children since opening in December 2001.

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