Community leaders for youth come together to support youth and families impacted by COVID-19 disparities and recent violence.

On behalf of the leadership of organizations serving the community, we acknowledge our role in contributing to the healing of our community. Our youth and families are hurting due to the impacts of COVID 19, and our communities are experiencing the consequences through disparities in resources, impacts of poverty, and systemic racism. 

Someone might wonder, how does the pandemic fuel uncertainty, violence, and trauma in our neighborhoods? The impacts of COVID-19 have increased disparities and anxiety amongst youth and families for a variety of reasons such as unemployment and reduction of hours, families struggling to make ends meet, struggling to pay for groceries and rent, youth isolation and remote learning, loss of sense of routine, lack of connection to social circles, lack of connection to caring adults through school and prosocial programs and access to healthcare. All of these factors have an impact on the overall well-being of youth, their safety, and their ability to thrive. 

We, as a community need to help keep youth connected to their families, to their schools, to their neighborhoods, and to the programs that exist to support them and continue to foster positive youth development. 

Based on a call to action from Watsonville Police Department, United Way of Santa Cruz County convened a group of community leaders representing the Santa Cruz County Youth Action Network, Jóvenes SANOS, Watsonville United 4 Youth: Community Action Board, Conflict Resolution Center, Living Evolution, Pajaro Valley Prevention and Student Assistance, Youth Now, and Youth Serve; as well as, Santa Cruz County Probation, Santa Cruz County Children’s Behavioral Health, Santa Cruz County Office of Education, and COPA.  

Collectively we are checking in with the youth we work with, asking, what do youth and families need at this time? How can we support youth and families so they feel safe and have the ability to thrive amidst a pandemic and recent violence?

We ask that community members join us and check in with youth in your families and neighborhood. If you see a family or youth that is struggling, please know that there are resources in our community that may help them. To find out more, please share the contact information below with families or let us know directly how we can best serve.

Together we can help strengthen connections and help our youth to thrive during these difficult times.


Resources for Youth and Families

211 Santa Cruz County: Text or call 211, resources available in Spanish & English from housing, food, mental health, crisis services, youth services, senior support, and more! Website: 

Community Action Board (CAB): 831-763-2174, operates 6 programs assisting low-income people with an emergency, sustaining/self-sufficiency services such as Rental Assistance, Immigration Services, Emergency Eviction Prevention, COVID-19 & Fire Emergency Need, and more. Website: 

Conflict Resolution Center:  831-475-6117, provides training, group facilitation, consultation, mediation, restorative justice, and affordable divorce mediation. Website: 

Pajaro Valley Prevention and Student Assistance: 831-728-6445, provides health education, mental health counseling, substance abuse, and prevention services, by advocating for public policies that protect the health of the community. Website: 

Santa Cruz County Children’s Behavioral Health: 24-hr Access line 800-952-2335, serves Medi-Cal eligible youth who have moderate to severe behavioral health needs. They partner with youth and families to achieve positive outcomes developing individualized goals for our services that are focused on improving the overall health and emotional functioning of the youth, maintaining and/or strengthening family stability and relationships, and reducing the need for Juvenile Probation involvement, psychiatric hospitalization, and out of home placement. Website: 

Youth Now: 831-768-7998, provides a safe space that offers FREE tutoring for middle school and high school youth after school. Website: 

Youth Serve:  (831) 722-6708 x313, connects youth (ages 11-17) with rewarding community service projects across the county. Under the supervision and mentorship of adult volunteer leaders, YouthSERVE volunteers contribute their talents to making positive change in the community. Website: