Sunday, March 18 , 2018, 4:12 pm | Fair 59º


Dudley to Donate Bicycle to CAC’s Buena Vista Head Start Center

The DA's interest in unresolved child abuse cases began with her involvement in Head Start

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley will be at the Community Action Commission’s Buena Vista Head Start Center in Santa Maria on Thursday to personally donate a bicycle to the children.

Dudley was once the director of Children’s Services for the Community Action Commission. She said her favorite memory of her Head Start days is playing the guitar for the children outside on the grass. It was while at Head Start that Dudley said she became interested in unresolved child abuse cases and “making sure that the most vulnerable victims have justice.”

This led her to law school, which she attended at night while raising three children younger than age 7.

CAC Children’s Services includes Head Start, Early Head Start and Child Development programs, providing high-quality early care and education for countywide children up to ag 5, and services for pregnant women.

Children’s Services also operates Superior Court Children’s Waiting Rooms in Santa Barbara and Santa Maria, giving children a safe and educational place to be while their parents are in family court.

The CAC was formed in 1967. The agency employs close to 400 people at 40 locations countywide to serve more than 10,000 individuals annually. In addition to Children’s Services, CAC feeds children and seniors, helps youth facing challenges such as gang involvement, unemployment and teen pregnancy, and makes low-income homes more energy efficient. The CAC is supported entirely by public and private grants, donations and fundraising.

“The district attorney is one of many former Head Start children and staff who have continued to recognize the importance of the program to children, families and their own lives,” CAC Executive Director Fran Forman said.

For Dudley, the model of excellent childhood education was and continues to be Head Start, “because of its comprehensive approach to the child,” she said. “Head Start involves the whole family and influences the child’s whole life.”

Dudley is an active member of the Head Start Alumni and Friends Association of the Central Coast.

— Elizabeth Lee is a grant writer for the Community Action Commission.

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