We Are Family

By Giving List Staff   |   January 2, 2021

In the 1960s, the Perry Preschool in Ypsilanti, Michigan laid the groundwork for our understanding of the value of early education. 

A sample of 58 low-income students received high quality preschool, while a control group of an additional 63 had none. Researchers then followed those children until age 40. On all measures – high school graduation, income, arrest rates – the adults that had high quality preschool did better. The return was a jaw-dropping $16 for every dollar invested. 

So what does Ypsilanti have to do with Santa Barbara? Well, the latter is home to Storyteller Children’s Center, a therapeutic preschool that provides high-quality early childhood education for homeless and at-risk children and comprehensive support services for their families. 

Founded in 1988, the school serves 80 children and their families a year. Storyteller’s recently appointed executive director, Susan Cass, sees the center’s work as “critical to breaking the cycle of poverty in Santa Barbara.” 

“This marginalized population that we serve is a large portion of our county,” Cass says, an allusion to Santa Barbara’s ignominious distinction of having the third highest poverty rate in California. “There are a lot of people in our community struggling without alternatives for childcare. Storyteller provides these families with the support they need to address and overcome their challenges so they can build a better life for themselves and their children.”

Storyteller’s teachers and staff receive double the amount of required training for early childhood educators and are committed to ensuring that children and their families have the tools and resources they need to thrive. Whether it be through mental health support services offered in partnership with CALM and Casa Pacifica, monthly parent meetings, or bi-annual home visits, the children’s center is focused on much more than the child alone. “We are a whole family service,” Cass says. 

One desperately needed in Santa Barbara. A 2017 countywide needs assessment conducted found that more than 35,000 children were in need of early education and childcare, while the number of available slots stood at just under 18,000, after tumbling by more than 1,200 in the preceding decade. For the working poor, whom Storyteller serves, the need is even more acute. 

Cass envisions a future where she and her team can devote more energy to improving the lives of the entire families, which she knows – and research shows – will have a powerful ripple effect in our community, only making it stronger with each passing year.

 

Storyteller Children’s Center

Mission

Storyteller is a therapeutic preschool that serves children and their families toward “Kindergarten Readiness.”
Storyteller serves Santa Barbara’s poorest families, those living below or close to the poverty guideline and who also meet the Federal definition of homeless. This segment of our community may have difficulty accessing and paying for quality preschool.

Begin to Build a Relationship

We know you care about where your money goes and how it is used. Connect with this organization’s leadership in order to begin to build this important relationship. Your email will be sent directly to this organization’s Director of Development and/or Executive Director.

The Key Component is Love

“The children and families of Storyteller are working against long odds. At Storyteller, we help families draw upon their own strengths to address their challenges and lay the groundwork for success. The key component is love, expertly delivered. Our teachers support children in their social and emotional growth, helping them to develop the skills necessary in both school and in life. Storyteller meets the needs of the whole family, and we could not do this without the tremendous financial support of our community.”
– Jon Clark, Storyteller Board Member and Donor since 2002

Board of Directors

Dr. Patricia Madrigal, President
Michael Wasserman, Vice President
Danna McGrew , Treasurer
​Erinn Lynch, Secretary
​Jon Clark
Jennifer GIllon Duffy
Gretchen Horn
Sharon Kayser
Anna Kokotovic
Lizzie Peus
Ken Radtkey
Kyra Rogers
Molly Seguel
Kenny Slaught
Rachael Stein
Carrie Towbes
Craig Zimmerman

Advisory Board

Tiffany Foster, Chair
Kathleen Baushke
Ed & Sue Birch
Kim Blankenhorn
Kim Busch
Tim Casey
William Cirone
Michele Cuttler
Julie Farrell
Elizabeth Gabler
Yvette Giller
Marisa Grimes
Mary Howe-Grant
Chelsea Lancaster
Kristin Linehan
Patty MacFarlane
Alixe Mattingly
Carrie Randolph
Joanne Rapp
Julia Rodgers
Rick Roney
Jo Saxon
J.P. Sharp
Belinda Zola