New federal funding announced for local Head Start programs
U.S. Reps. Jimmy Panetta and Zoe Lofgren have announced new federal funding for Head Start and Early Head Start services in Santa Cruz County. Over $4.8 million was secured to support the work of Encompass Community Services, which runs both of those services.
“For many working families in Santa Cruz County, the high cost of living can make it very difficult to find and afford reasonable childcare services,” the members said. “Fortunately, there are programs like Head Start and Early Head Start that provide parents of young children with not only childcare, but also solid early educational services for their children. We’re proud to secure this federal investment for such impactful programs, which, ultimately, provide opportunities for working parents to invest in the future of their families and our community.”
Encompass Community Services operates both Head Start preschool and Early Head Start services. Head Start programs support children’s growth from birth to age 5 through services centered around early learning and development, health and family well-being. Early Head Start services work with families that have children ages birth to 3, and many also serve expectant families.
Programs deliver child development services in center-based, home-based or family childcare settings. All Head Start programs continually work toward our mission for eligible children and families to receive high-quality services in safe and healthy settings that prepare children for school and life.
Holiday Lights and Holiday Craft and Gift Fair begin next week
It’s time to embrace the sights and sounds of the holiday season, and there’s no better place than the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds—home of Holiday Lights and the Holiday Craft and Gift Fair.
The fourth annual Holiday Lights event gets underway Nov. 24 and continues through Dec. 24, with driving tours every Friday, Saturday and Sunday beginning at 5:30pm.
This incredible light display features 2 million lights on a 3/4 mile loop around the fairgrounds, passing through a magical world where everything from Santa Claus to tractors are brought to life in lights. This year, there will be a snow globe display inspired by the artwork of a local fourth grader.
Attendees can stay warm and snuggly in their car and listen to a special Holiday Lights radio station while soaking up all the spectacular lights. Holiday Lights is made possible by the Fair Foundation and Ag History Project.
On Dec. 1 and 2 only, the Fairgrounds Foundation will also host the Holiday Craft and Gift Fair, now in its 46th year, from noon to 9pm. The Fair is the perfect place to “shop local,” with 125 vendors selling unique and handmade gifts, everything from clothes to candles, plus food and candy. And, fair goers can keep up their shopping energy with a home cooked dinner and warm apple pie.
During the two days of the Holiday Fair, attendees can walk through Holiday Lights starting at 5:30pm. It’s an extra special opportunity to see all the lights on foot and take lots of photos—aka selfies. They might even encounter Santa himself.
For ticket prices and more, visit fairgrounds-foundation.org.
SCC Youth Poet Laureate Program offers platform for young poetic voices
Santa Cruz Public Libraries, in collaboration with Urban Word, Santa Cruz County Office of Education and Arts Council Santa Cruz County, has launched the inaugural Santa Cruz County Youth Poet Laureate Program.
This inspiring initiative celebrates the vibrant world of youth poetry and offers local young poets the opportunity to serve as the Santa Cruz County Youth Poet Laureate.
The Santa Cruz County Youth Poet Laureate will serve a one-year term, spanning from April 2024 to April 2025, and will actively participate in various engagements throughout the year. This program is open to eligible individuals between the ages of 13 and 18 who reside in Santa Cruz County and can commit to serving locally throughout the program year.
The Youth Poet Laureate will serve as an advocate and ambassador for poetry, social action and civic engagement in the county. They will champion their own poetic endeavors while inspiring their peers to embrace the art of poetry through readings, workshops and appearances across the county.
Eligible individuals who are passionate about poetry and eager to make a positive impact on their community are encouraged to apply. The application process is now open, and the deadline for submissions is Feb. 1, 2024.
Applicants will submit five original poems along with other relevant materials to a panel of local judges. Finalists will be asked to read one of their poems in person for the judges. All finalists will receive a $100 cash honorarium, and the Youth Poet Laureate will be awarded a $500 honorarium. In addition, all finalists will receive a gift card donated by Two Birds Books.
Finalists will be announced March 31, 2024. A celebration of finalists and announcement of the inaugural Santa Cruz County Youth Poet Laureate will take place April 10, 2024, from 6-8pm at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center.