Our Local California State Pre-K Programs: Starlight & TJC prepare our little ones for success in kindergarten and beyond

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Photo caption: Jose Rocha, site director at the Starlight State Preschool, helps make reading fun for one of his students.  

By Molly Lautamo

Developing a child’s emotional and social skills before age five is a critical step that helps set that child up for success in elementary school and beyond. The California State Preschool Program (State Pre-K), a state-funded program of Encompass, provides a safe space for children ages three and four to learn how to interact with other children and adults and develop the math, language, and literary skills necessary for a smooth entry into kindergarten.

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Santa Cruz Residential Recovery: Evidence-based services for those with co-occuring disorders

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Santa Cruz Residential Recovery: Evidence-based services for those with co-occurring disorders

By Molly Lautamo

Overcoming substance abuse in addition to managing a mental health disorder can be a long, uphill battle, and like any other chronic health condition, must be managed over a person’s lifetime. Santa Cruz Residential Recovery (SCRR) is one of the few programs in the county that effectively serves men and women facing co-occurring disorders. As a 30-bed co-ed facility, SCRR provides a home and intensive treatment for individuals in the early stages of recovery.

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Happy 50th Anniversary Head Start!

Can you remember your very first teacher? Can you remember the adult, aside from your parents, who introduced you to new experiences, taught you right from wrong, and who acted as a mentor in your early years?

For more than 32 million Americans this person was a dedicated teacher from Head Start. This year marks the 50th anniversary of this national early childhood education program that not only sets our little ones up for success but also helps parents overcome obstacles to education, employment, and housing, empowering them to create a positive, nurturing environment where their children can grow up.

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New affordable housing opens in Live Oak

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Named after a flower that symbolizes rebirth, the Lotus Apartments in Live Oak recently opened as an affordable housing for vulnerable populations. Of its 12 one-bedroom units, five are home to people with a history of mental illness, three for young adults transitioning out of the foster care system, one for someone who was chronically homeless and the rest is affordable housing. “I think that this really is an effort to ensure that the most vulnerable people have the opportunity to live with dignity and respect,” said Monica Martinez, CEO of Encompass Community Services, which hosted an open house for the complex Wednesday.

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Santa Cruz homeless shelter creates kids’ play space

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SANTA CRUZ >> Carving out a slab of space devoted to the impulses to learn and grow of homeless children was a no-brainer at the Homeless Services Center’s Rebele Family Shelter.

It just took officials a while to get there.

In recent weeks, though, the shelter pushed aside other difficulties, using funding and support of Encompass Community Services’ Head Start program to convert half its dining area into a safe no-pressure place for children to “just be,” said Rebele Family Shelter Program Manager Mary Triulzi.

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Carolyn Coleman retires as Santa Cruz nonprofit leader

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Santa Cruz Sentinel: July 16, 2014

Encompass Community Services chief served 33 years

By J.M. Brown

Carolyn Coleman, who has overseen Santa Cruz County's largest nonprofit agency serving more than 8,000 people each year, retired this week after 33 years with Encompass Community Services.

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A day for dads: Watsonville PAPÁS event celebrates fathers, father figures

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Santa Cruz Sentinel: June 14, 2014

By Terri Morgan

WATSONVILLE >> Fathers and their young children danced and swayed to the music as they circled chairs set up in the La Manzana Courtyard Saturday afternoon.

Despite big stakes — a $25 prize for winning the round of musical chairs — the competition was lighthearted. As each father and child pair found themselves standing when all the others found a seat after the music stopped, they stepped away to cheers and high fives from the audience at the PAPÁS Eighth Annual Father's Day event.

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Decades of Help

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Good Times, September 17, 2013

By Jessica M. Pasko

The Santa Cruz Community Counseling Center marks its 40th anniversary

Joseph Luna, 58, credits Si Se Puede, a program of the Santa Cruz Community Counseling Center, with saving his life.

This month marks the 40th anniversary of the center, which offers an umbrella of services that range from housing assistance to behavioral health counseling, parental education and nutrition classes, among others.

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King Gaskins memorial mural 'coming back to life'

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Santa Cruz Sentinel: 1/18/14

By Molly Sharlach

SANTA CRUZ -- A vibrant rainbow and soaring eagles will once again grace the side of the Union Grove Music building at Pacific Avenue and Elm Street.

Repainting began Monday on the mural honoring King Gaskins, a beloved youth leader who died 20 years ago.

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A Home for Former Foster Youth

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Create a sea of change. Begin by learning more about five local nonprofits in our annual Community Fund issue.

Sometimes the best gifts come unwrapped. No curly ribbons or bows. No frills. Often, these gifts come in the form of generosity and kindness—from family and loved ones, or from people we hardly know at all. All of this factors into the mix of our annual Community Fund issue, in which we shine the spotlight on the very important and vital issue of housing.

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