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Several Family Resource Centers to Close Across Santa Clara County

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A Latina woman stands inside a community center.
Stephanie Ceja, a mother of three and a staff member at Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County, poses for a photo at Educare Family Resource Center in San José on May 20, 2024. Ceja is concerned about the impact the closures of Family Resource Centers will have in the region. (Joseph Geha/KQED)

Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County, which runs 11 of the Family Resource Centers out of about 20 in Santa Clara County, will shut down up to six of them across San José and Sunnyvale by this summer, officials told KQED. The closures will create significant challenges for families who rely on these centers, which provide a range of support and educational programs, including classes for parents and children, diapers and food, as well as books and recreational materials.

The centers’ funding has decreased by roughly 75% due to an ongoing decline in Proposition 10 tobacco taxes. Those taxes fund a range of early childhood development and family support programs around the state, overseen by First 5 California.

“What was the challenge for us is the depth of the cuts for this coming year,” Catholic Charities CEO Greg Kepferle said. “There’s not enough money to run all these centers. And so tough decisions have to be made.”

Kepferle said the organization typically received around $4 million annually from the state taxes to run the family centers, administered through a local agency, but is receiving just $1 million for the upcoming fiscal year.

The five centers closing are Sherman Oaks, Evergreen, Cureton and Hubbard in San José and the San Miguel center in Sunnyvale, according to a spokesperson for the nonprofit. Cureton and Hubbard will close in August, while the others will close at the end of June.

A sixth center, Luther Burbank, is also at risk of closure, but Catholic Charities is pursuing an alternative funding deal to keep running that location for another year.


Due to the potential for closures, Catholic Charities informed 45 employees late last month their jobs were at risk and filed the required layoff notices with the state, according to Big Local News’ Layoff Watch. Kepferle said some of those employees are already finding other roles within the organization, though it’s unclear how many will ultimately be retained.

For the centers that can stay open, some of which have other funding sources to complement the First 5 money, Kepferle said the level of services is likely to shrink.

“We still want to have a footprint in the neighborhoods, but it may not be the same. One of the things that we have relied on pretty extensively is the power of volunteers. So our hope is that where we can, we’ll try to leverage that power in the volunteer community to keep services going,” he said.

Stephanie Ceja, a mother who started as a client, began volunteering in 2020 to help others. She’s now on staff at Catholic Charities, working in family support programs, and said the cuts could be a major blow to kids and parents.

“It will take away so many resources and so many lives that could potentially become better,” she said.

By her late 20s, Ceja was a mom to three young children, including a daughter who developed special needs at 15 months old. While her husband worked long hours to help provide for their family, Ceja put her entire focus into making sure her kids got what they needed each day.

The stress of parenting, while also learning about her daughter Violet’s autism and bouncing between medical appointments, pushed her into a depression.

“I forgot about my passions. I just focused on basically surviving for my kids,” Ceja said. “I left theater, and it was very hard to make friends because I was always with my kids at home or at the store. I wanted to give them the childhood that I didn’t have.”

But when another parent at Violet’s school invited Ceja to come explore the Family Resource Center in San José’s Seven Trees neighborhood, she said things began to improve for her almost immediately.

“I felt heard, and I felt like I was not alone anymore. It was the community that was being formed, the people who were there, the other moms who also felt safe to come here. You talk and forget about, you know, the dirty dishes or the laundry,” she said.

She would leave her kids at classes at the center where they would learn, sing and play, while she and later her husband would also take parenting classes.

“Just having those resources completely started opening my mind to other ways of parenting and even connecting with people who had other resources for my kids that I didn’t know about,” she said.

the outside of a low building with a courtyard in front
The Educare Family Resource Center in San Jose is one of the family centers that is scheduled to stay open. (Joseph Geha/KQED)

First 5 Santa Clara County, which oversees and allocates the local portion of tobacco tax funding in the Valley, has been adapting to the tax revenue decline by building new strategic plans. Leaders say they plan to focus on serving families most in need, including those facing unstable housing, those with children with disabilities or who are lower-income and immigrant families, especially those with no documentation or mixed documentation.

However, officials said the step California lawmakers took to ban the sale of most flavored tobacco products in late 2022 led to a greater decline in tax revenue and added to the need to make steep cuts. Other programs are being affected beyond Family Resource Centers, including some that support children’s mental health and well-being and home visitation services.

In the last five fiscal years, revenues for the First 5 Santa Clara County averaged $26.3 million annually, with about $14 million coming from Proposition 10. This year, tobacco tax funding is down to about $11 million, officials said.

“We do anticipate that for some families, this will be really difficult because their local or their closest Family Resource Center will be closing,” said Jennifer Kelleher Cloyd, CEO of First 5 Santa Clara County. “Our Family Resource Centers have been kind of the hallmark of First 5 work for many years.”

Cloyd said that because First 5 was the primary or sole funder for many of these centers, the organization has been encouraging and supporting nonprofits that carry out this work to seek out other funding from grants, foundations, corporations or local governments.

“We are really committed to trying to make sure we have communication for families about where else they can continue to access resources,” Cloyd said.

First 5 chapters from around the state are also appealing to legislators to find other sources of money to backfill early childhood and family support as tobacco tax revenues continue to fall. But it’s unclear if or when that could materialize.

With the state grappling with an estimated $45 billion budget deficit, additional funding cuts may be in the works. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s May budget revision proposed more cuts to programs and services aimed at young children and families, First 5 said.

“It’s definitely very painful to see,” Ceja said of the center closures and the loss of some staff members. “At the end of the day, they are part of the community, and people love them.”


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