(Chula Vista, CA) –Mi Escuelita, a therapeutic preschool of South Bay Community Services (SBCS) whose focus is to help children ages three to five years old and their families impacted by violence and abuse, has been awarded 1.7 million through the Guy C. Clum Fund at The San Diego Foundation. The award is one of four totaling $13.8 million dedicated to strengthening early childhood education opportunities and the health and well-being of the San Diego region.
Children living in violent homes are at higher risk for substance abuse, failure in school, aggressive behavior or depression. Infants and small children who are exposed to violence in the home experience so much added emotional stress that it can harm development to their brains and impair cognitive and sensory growth. Studies show that more than half of school-age children in domestic violence shelters show clinical levels of anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder.
The funds awarded over a five-year period will support the expansion of Mi Escuelita classroom space which will help decrease the wait list and provide therapeutic quality education to serve more children who have experienced traumatic events.
“We are very grateful for Guy Clum’s generous donation to help us serve more children,” said Kathryn Lembo, CEO of South Bay Community Services. “Often our younger victims are overlooked. The effect of domestic violence on children, whether they witness or have been physically abused, impacts their development, mental health, education, and future.”
Mi Escuelita offers free, year-round, full-day preschool for students who are referred by Child Welfare Services, health centers, law enforcement or community-based programs. With low ratio, full-time therapists in each classroom, specialized staff and curriculum, the preschool’s holistic support both child and caregivers – parents, grandparents, family members or foster parents – to help with behavior challenges and learning opportunities in and away from the classroom. Nearly half of Mi Escuelita students are in foster care.
A recent five-year longitudinal study by the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) examined the overall effectiveness of Mi Escuelita on school readiness for these vulnerable and at-risk children. Results from the evaluation clearly illustrate that, across all years, children who participated in the Mi Escuelita program performed equal to, and often better, than their peers on several different academic outcomes.
Mi Escuelita has served more than 450 families since its opening in 2006. Each year, there is a waiting list.
Mi Escuelita’s current funding comes from First 5 San Diego and California Office of Emergency Services. The remainder is provided by private donations, student sponsorships, and SBCS’ annual Change Their Lives gala. The expansion project has also been generously supported by Sprouts CEO Ron Cohn, Manpower CEO Phil Blair, Eastlake Church, Chula Vista Elementary School District, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and Las Patronas.
Serving San Diego County since 1971, South Bay Community Services transforms communities to support the well-being and prosperity of children, youth and families