Home Start Celebrates 50 Year Milestone

Home start thrift boutique ribbon cutting

It was September 1977 – a huge crossroads for a caring team of social workers dedicated to serving San Diego children and families in need. As the home-based component of the Head Start program, Home Start had already been delivering services to families for five years. Federal funding had ended for the pilot program, however, and Project Home Start had to either close its doors forever or secure new revenue.
Shutting down was simply not an option. The results were in – this innovative home-based program was meeting a tremendous need. Parents were getting the resources to ensure their children could thrive. Fortunately, under the direction of Home Start Founder and CEO Dr. Allana Cummings Elovson, a committed group of staff and parents rolled up their sleeves. They formed a Board of Directors, filed as non-profit agency, and Home Start, Inc. was born.
As time passed, tragedies such as domestic violence, homelessness, hunger and abuse became more common. Home Start adapted services to expand and address these crises. In 1986, Home Start successfully implemented San Diego’s first family preservation project, providing intensive services to prevent the unnecessary removal of children from their homes.
Another milestone occurred 12 years ago under the direction of current CEO Laura Tancredi-Baese. That is when Home Start opened the region’s first Maternity Housing Program to specifically address the unique needs of pregnant/parenting young women and their children facing homelessness. Mothers are paired with a Case Manager and receive evidence-based parenting education, assistance securing child-care, therapy and employment-readiness. An onsite Child Development Specialist works with each mother/child to ensure critical developmental milestones are reached.
Laura next responded to the crucial need for job-training for these young women. In 2015, she established Home Start’s Thrift Boutique thanks to a generous estate gift from Meg Jacobs. Participants receive training and coaching that builds work-readiness skills. Bright Future Candles was the second social enterprise opened by Home Start in 2019. Today, the agency serves more than 17,000 individuals in the community through seven core service programs with success stories like Jasmine.
“A car is not a home for me and my son,” Jasmine lay awake thinking, alone and scared. After a referral, Home Start welcomed her and son Jeremy into their own home. This young mother no longer had to lay awake and anxious. Staff have provided Jasmine and her son with housing, case management, food, furniture, household items, and parenting education. Jasmine created an Individualized Transitional Living Plan with her Case Manager. They are working on securing childcare, so she can use her restaurant management experience to return to work.
Be a part of helping more families like this by attending Home Start’s 50th Anniversary Celebration on Saturday May 14th at The US Grant. Join local leaders and caring San Diegans to recognize the tens of thousands of children and families served by Home Start, as well as raise funds needed to continue expanding services. The evening will feature a three-course dinner, auction excitement, live entertainment and dancing. Purchase your tickets today www.HomeStart50th.org.

Together, you and Home Start can achieve the vision for all children to live in safe, stable, and nurturing homes.

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Esteban Villanueva