At their core, family resource centers provide family-centered and family-strengthening services. They’re embedded in communities across the state, are culturally sensitive, and prioritize impact-driven and evidence-informed approaches to reach their goals of preventing child abuse and neglect while ensuring families have the resources they need to thrive.
Services at the family resource centers include parenting classes, drop-in crisis assistance, afterschool programming, housing and rental assistance, public benefits enrollment (CalFresh, Medi-Cal, Unemployment, Social Security), and mental health services, among many others.
Put plainly, family resource centers protect and enhance the lives of some of the most marginalized populations and vulnerable children in California. They’re connectors, protectors, and trusted messengers—a one-stop shop that helps families and individuals reach their full potential, no matter their documentation status or income level. And they produce results: Studies have shown that their prevention-focused services save local governments money in the long run—studies estimate a $4.93 return for each dollar invested.
Over the last three years, Community Bridges’ family resource centers have continued all services without interruption, despite operating as one of the leading agencies in local disaster response and after facing crippling local funding divestment.
Community Bridges’ four Santa Cruz County family resource centers operate under the umbrella of the Family Resource Collective (FRC), which was established in 2012 to unite beloved and trusted community social service safety net hubs in Watsonville, Live Oak, Santa Cruz, and Felton to streamline services across the county and to build on the strengths of a collaborative instead of siloed approach.
The FRC includes La Manzana Community Resources (Watsonville-Pajaro Valley-South County), Live Oak Community Resources (Live Oak-Mid-County), Nueva Vista Community Resources (Santa Cruz-Soquel), and Mountain Community Resources (Felton-North County). Annually, it serves more than 10,000 Santa Cruz County and North Monterey County residents—most of whom live at or below the poverty line—and that does not change in times of crisis.
Whether it was the COVID-19 Pandemic, the CZU Fires, the ongoing housing crisis, or, more recently, the 2023 storms and floods, the FRC has been invaluable in helping people in crisis obtain the resources they need to regain stability and hope for the future. In the most recent disaster alone, our FRC has led a collective of local nonprofits to distribute nearly $2 million to storm-impacted residents in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties. This includes roughly $1.2 million in direct financial assistance to Pajaro families since the Pajaro River Levee breached in March.
In addition, the FRC has invested close to $500,000 in indirect aid to the community through case management services, FEMA application assistance, essential item and clean-up tool distribution, and advocacy and outreach during the winter and spring storms.
The FRC has been able to accomplish this because of two reasons: trust and partnership.
Mountain Community Resources (first established as Valley Resource Center) has operated since 1982. Nueva Vista Community Resources (first established as Familia Center) has been around since 1983, and Beach Flats Community Center, a city-funded program that joined Nueva Vista, started in 1993. La Manzana Community Resources was established four years later. And Live Oak Community Resources came onto the scene in 2001. The FRC has a combined 139 years of experience serving different communities throughout Santa Cruz County and the Pajaro Valley.
And while the FRCs’ reach and experience are grand, its ability to partner with other agencies, jurisdictions, and foundations truly solidify its impact on the community. A prime example of this talent is the establishment of the Pajaro Long-Term Recovery Center.
Community Bridges partnered with Catholic Charities Diocese of Monterey to open a satellite resource center in Pájaro to assist and ensure they continue providing direct client disaster services for families recovering from the devastating Pájaro Valley floods. The center at 14 Porter Drive will fulfill the functions of the Long-Term Case Management work needed to help the dozens of Pájaro families who cannot return home or find new, habitable housing because of the spring storms.
Having strategically placed family resource centers like Community Bridges’ FRCs throughout the state is critically important to ensure that all Californians can access the assistance they need year-round and in times of crisis.
Family resource centers are worth your investment. Donate to Community Bridges to support the FRC’s services. Tell your elected representatives the importance of investing in this critical local program and ask them to prioritize them in their funding allocations.
To donate, visit communitybridges.org/donate.
For more information about our Family Resource Collective, visit communitybridges.org/frc.
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