Santa Barbara’s Transition House is scrambling to raise $40,000 by Nov. 15 to compensate for an unexpected budget cut in their Infant Care Center department.
The support center provides shelter, housing and other services to homeless families in the county with funding from government aid and numerous local foundations. The shelter’s Infant Care Center provides free, licensed daycare for homeless parents struggling to find work and housing.
According to Transition House Executive Director Kathleen Baushke, the center is pursuing several avenues to bridge the facility’s funding gap.
“We are frantically searching for alternatives,” Baushke said in a press release. “The current economy makes that difficult, but the prospect of families returning to the streets and raising their babies in cars or campgrounds is not an acceptable alternative.”
The Transition House is in the process of constructing a larger center — more than twice its current capacity — to house up to 25 children, from infants to three-year-olds. According to their website, the organization expects construction will continue for at least another six months.
Families who come to the Transition House undertake a three-step process that provides emergency food and shelter, school or childcare services and case managers and finance management classes for parents. After completing the initial phase, families have the option to participate in a group living home called the “Firehouse” to formulate financial plans, job hunt and set individual goals.
Baushke said the Infant Care Center helps shoulder the financial burden for parents attempting to reenter the workforce.
“It is a critical piece to get [the homeless] back into employment, and then back into housing,” Baushke said. “Once they are making an income and have stabilized, we ask that they pay a portion of their share to the cost of infant care.”
However, Transition House employee Carly Bass said the program is costly to maintain.
“A lot of families are not working because it would cost more for them to put their children in daycare,” Bass said. “[Childcare] is a huge barrier to a lot of our families; they need this tool that we provide for them. We lost $40,000 this year — that’s a huge amount. We are going to try to make it through this school year and try to line up new funding.”
The center encourages public participation and contributions, according to Transition House employee Christienne Durbin.
“What I would want mostly for [people] is to get involved in some way with Transition House,” Durbin said. “Go on the website and read about what we do, pass it around to your friends on Facebook or follow us on Twitter — get the word out.”
According to Durbin, valuable volunteer opportunities are available during the holiday season and have a history of benefitting both parties involved.
“People can volunteer at the Infant Care Center; we need people to hold babies!” Durbin said. “People can also help to wrap gifts for the children; it is a lot to wrap gifts for all of those kids.”
Community members also have the option of sponsoring a child at the Infant Care Center. For more information on the center and its programs or to become a volunteer, visit www.TransitionHouse.com.