Storyteller SB

By on Sep 12, 2017 in Giving

Since 1988, Storyteller Children’s Center has helped Santa Barbara’s homeless and at-risk toddlers achieve kindergarteSCCn readiness. Therapeutic preschool and support services provide students will the skills needed to beat the odds and excel.

Since our previous article, Storyteller has grown. The second location and its staff are thriving. Even with the second location, the center has a waitlist for enrollments. In 2014, the waitlist averaged 80 families. This year, the waitlist has 144 families.

The demand for Storyteller services continues to rise as local families struggle with homelessness, food security, and access to fundamental necessities. More than 90 percent of families serviced live below the 2017 Federal Poverty Guideline of $24,600 for a family of four.

Delene Bliss, Director of Development at Storyteller, understands the conditions in which many students live. “That’s not a livable wage,” Bliss said. “That’s just the federal poverty guideline but that wage makes living very, very difficult in Santa Barbara.”

About 56 percent of Storyteller families are single income, single parent households. Shelters or crowded, shared residences are what 53 percent of students call home.

In addition to precarious living conditions, 43 percent of children strive to learn while managing developmental delays or disabilities. Without the help of Storyteller, these children would risk falling farther behind than their peers. The small classroom settings and one-on-one attention that students receive at Storyteller increase students’ chances for success.

Yet in spite of the odds, Storyteller students are flourishing.

Storyteller collaborated with the University of California, Channel Island and the University of California, Santa Barbara to conduct a study of Storyteller graduates. Dr. Michael Furlong of the University of California, Santa Barbara’s Counseling Clinical and School Psychology program led a team of researchers on a quest to determine the long-term effects of Storyteller services.

The study tracked three graduating classes of Storyteller students up to the third grade, a critical point in a child’s academic career. Though students enter the program with fewer resources and greater obstacles, Storyteller graduates repeatedly performed at grade moxilevel or above when compared to other children in their grades.

Pre-kindergarten programs such as Storyteller share success. A 2014 study reports that 86 percent of Head Start children were rated “kindergarten ready” for language and development and 91 percent were rated “kindergarten ready” for math based on the California Department of Education, Desired Results Development Pro.

“The results confirmed what we’ve know all along,” said Bliss.

Guardian involvement is another key component to the children’s success. Though many guardians work multiple jobs, Storyteller guardians have amassed 1,666 hours of participation.

These hours include informative sessions on dental hygiene, nutrition, immigration services, therapy and more. When they are able, student guardians also volunteer in the classroom as teachers’ aids.

“There are so many studies. No matter what the social economic condition is of the family, having a parent involved is a big part of the equation in a child’s success,” said Bliss. “Here at Storyteller, we pride ourselves on that part of the equation.”

So far in 2017, Storyteller has served 94 preschool children. The organization has provided 33,339 meals and performed 1,711 hours of intervention and disabilities services. There is still more work to be done.

“In the perfect world, there would be no need for Storyteller. But here, there are many who are under the federal poverty guideline and they need our services for high quality pre-school to help their kids get a good start,” said Bliss.

Yardi provided a grant to support Storyteller as it prepares at-risk children for kindergarten—and future– successful.

“We are so grateful for Yardi and all that you do for Storyteller. It’s been so dramatically life changing for so many of our children. Yardi is one of the top donors in the history of storyteller and we couldn’t do what we do without Yardi.”

Yardi is Energized for Good. Join us! Explore how you can get involved with Storyteller Children’s Center.