2020 Healthy Kids Coalition Fund
Legal-name: Precious Lamb Preschool
Address: 2005 Palo Verde Ave PMB 301
City: Long Beach
Officer-title: Executive Director
Mission: Breaking the cycle of homelessness, one child at a time.
Title: Development Director
Grant-purpose: To provide basic healthcare needs, including nutrition, physical fitness, and mental health, to children ages 1.5-5.5 years experiencing homelessness in the greater Long Beach community.
What-is-project: Precious Lamb provides full time, no cost quality early education to children ages 1.5-5.5 years experiencing homelessness in Long Beach. The students we serve are living in unstable home environments, including group homes, rehabs, shelters, cars, or with extended family members. All are under the poverty line and many are second or third generation homeless. Aside from being a high quality learning environment with a purpose to prepare children for kindergarten and beyond, PL also seeks to provide opportunities to educate children about health and nutrition. We do this through home prepared, well balanced meals that introduce new foods and are nutritious, and a school garden in collaboration with non-profit GroundED that teaches children about planting and cultivating produce. We also strive to build up healthy kids with an emphasis on exercise, including outdoor play, community walks, teaching bicycling and other wheeled items, and yoga and meditation. Lastly, as we strive to be a trauma informed environment that treats the whole person, PL takes mental health very seriously. Our staff is trauma informed, and uses those methods in how we teach, discipline, and support children and parents. We have a family advocate social worker on staff, available to support teachers and parents when a child displays trauma or other concerns. We also offer weekly yoga and chapel to encourage spiritual and physical awareness, and just slow down.
How-will-you-succeed: Program success is monitored through measurable goals and outcomes, including:
-The number of students fed weekly
– What meals are most successful (how many kids ate it) and what meals/foods are not successful
-How many children are utilizing the biking path, learning to bike, etc
-How many minutes are children playing outside a week
-How many children are participating in yoga and chapel, and seem to be enjoying it
-How many parents or staff are requesting support from social worker? What are her assessments?
-Parent feedback is always valued and requested. Parents are surveyed three times a year, and when their child graduates
Funding for these programs will be supported by seeking additional funding from donors and corporate partners, and will be included in our annual budget to sustain annual costs related to program. Additional grant requests are out to seek more support to maintain the program, especially as costs will increase due to social distancing requirements during Covid-19.
Who-are-you: Precious Lamb Preschool is the only full time, faith-based, and free preschool offered for homeless families in all of Long Beach and surrounding areas. Founded in 1999 by Sharalyn Croft in response to the overwhelming number of homeless young families living in shelters when she learned these parents did not have a safe and stable place to take their children as they sought employment and rehabilitation. After years of fundraising and seeking a site that was willing to overlook the stigma attached to homeless children at that time, Sharalyn found a home at former church /school in downtown Long Beach and Precious Lamb formally opened our doors in 2002 to three deserving children. Over the last 17 years Precious Lamb has expanded and served nearly 600 children ages 18 months to 5 years.
We partner with 20 local shelters for domestic violence, crisis pregnancy, substance abuse and economic hardship in the Long Beach area who refer families to us. 90% of our referring shelters are within two miles of our school, making transportation and walkability possible. Eligible children attend our school full-time at no charge while their parent or guardian receives treatment, education, job training or housing that will hopefully lift their family out of poverty. We seek to create systemic and social change by interrupting the cycle of homelessness for young children and building a foundation of loving to learn for a lifetime. The goal of PL is to develop school readiness through an emphasis on academic, social and emotional development through curriculum and care nuanced for children experiencing trauma. Highly qualified teachers work within a uniquely low 1:4 ratio (the state standard is one educator to 12 children). We currently have three age specific classrooms (toddler, preschool, and pre-k) and we may serve up to 120 students a year. Precious Lamb is open five days a week, and we provide breakfast, lunch, snacks, naps and potty training, along with a competitive curriculum, outdoor play, music, and excursions.
We do not receive any state or federal aid, and are completely funded by individual donors, corporate gifts, churches, and foundations. Precious Lamb has close to 1,000 donors a year, and spends eighty cents of each dollar donated directly on programming.
Recently named, “The Best Preschool in Long Beach” by Long Beach Post readers, Precious Lamb has also received the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce 3rd Sector Award in 2015, and Steward of the 2nd District Award in 2014. Precious Lamb works very closely with community partners for volunteerism, resources and referrals, and collaboration. Our partners include, just to name a few, CSULB, Long Beach Community Foundation, St. Anthony’s High School, LBUSD, Hotel Maya, Young Horizons, The Guidance Center, jetBlue, The Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Long Beach, Boeing, and The Munzer Foundation.