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Bolstering Youth and Family Wellbeing

Children’s Saving Accounts: A Strategy for Family Wellbeing

Santa Cruz Community Ventures (SCCV) will launch a children’s saving account (CSA) program that will automatically give every newborn in Santa Cruz County a savings account. The program goal is to improve childhood development, build expectations for higher education, build dedicated savings for postsecondary education and develop healthy lifelong financial habits. Similar programs across the country have found that the socio-emotional wellbeing of a child increases, in addition to other positive outcomes.

SCCV plans to leverage the strong history of collaboration and resources in Santa Cruz County. Santa Cruz County’s Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) and Salud’s Moving Health Care Upstream program have both identified CSA as a strategy to address social determinants of health. Our local CSA program will begin with automatic enrollment at birth based on vital records and familial income. An initial seed amount of $25-$50 will be added to the account. Additional contributions will be added based on health and educational milestones, such as enrolling in kindergarten or going to the first well-child visit.

SCCV plans to launch children’s saving accounts in Summer/Fall 2019 with a cohort of 50 families, adjust and evaluate, and then fully roll out the program to all newborns in the County by 2021. If you are interested in being a funder, contact

United 4 Youth Collective: A Pathway for Youth Wellbeing

United Way of Santa Cruz County will focus on youth wellbeing to drive their mission and align funding. The focus on youth wellbeing is driven by alarming county statistics: 14% of Santa Cruz children live in poverty, 3,500 K-12 students are experiencing homelessness and/or transitioning from foster care, and youth have expressed mental health as a priority issue. The United 4 Youth Collaborative is comprised of Youth Violence Prevention Task Force Partner Agencies, Jovenes SANOS, 211 Helpline and the Community Assessment Project. These programs address youth wellbeing through a variety of solutions that include: data collection, connection to resources, and youth advocacy.

United Way recently launched Neighborhood Project Investment that provides funding to two collaborative programs: Emerald Bay Project and Watsonville Uniting Community. Partner organizations include Community Bridges, Living Evolution, and Youth N.O.W, and others. Through the United 4 Youth Collaborative and Neighborhood Project Investment, United Way is investing in family engagement, employment training and an increased sense of belonging – with the overall goal of a healthy and thriving Santa Cruz County.

Syringe Services Program

The Syringe Services Program (SSP) provides clean syringes and safe disposal of used syringes. SSP participants are 5x more likely to enter drug treatment and 3.5x more likely to cease injecting. Secondary exchange is an enhancement to SSP and involves exchanging on behalf of others, expanding access to clean syringes. Santa Cruz County’s SSP has a three-prong approach: distribution and collection, safe disposal, and enhanced referrals. SSP sites also provide HIV and Hepatitis C testing, as well as vaccinations. On Tuesday, June 11th the Health Services Agency presented recommendations for the SSP to the Board of Supervisors and are currently reviewing feedback and recommendations provided at the meeting.

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