Returning to where it started 35 years ago, Storyteller Children’s Center is beginning the process to add classrooms at Transition House for infants and toddlers.

The impending partnership, which would incorporate Storyteller’s trauma-informed classrooms and curriculum at Transition House facilities, serving children facing adversity, ages six weeks to two years, was announced at the Annual Lunch with Love, Storyteller Children’s Center by Gabriella Garcia, executive director.

Storyteller Board members Rachael Stein, left, Patricia Madrigal, Anna Kokotovic, Gabriella Garcia (executive directory), and Dr. Peggy Dodds.
Storyteller Board members Rachael Stein, left, Patricia Madrigal, Anna Kokotovic, Gabriella Garcia (executive director), and Dr. Peggy Dodds. Credit: V Haro Photography

Before an audience of more than 200 community members at the Santa Barbara Woman’s Club-Rockwood, Garcia celebrated a shared vision she and Transition House executive director Kathleen Baushke have crafted to provide educational services to the community’s most vulnerable children.

Among those at the luncheon were Santa Barbara County Supervisor Laura Capps, Santa Barbara Mayor Randy Rowse, Santa Barbara Police Chief Kelly Ann Gordon, and Santa Barbara Fire Chief Chris Mailes.

“More than 35 years ago, Storyteller began informally as a roped-off section in the Transition House parking lot,” Garcia said. “Today, our organization sets the standard for trauma-informed early childhood education in the Santa Barbara community.

“It’s fitting that we can bring our services back to where our mission was rooted, and where we are needed most.”

Storyteller at Transition House Care Center would be a new addition to Storyteller’s existing two campuses on State Street and De La Vina Street, where they currently serve more than 85 vulnerable children and their families each year.

Beyond year-round educational programs, the organization provides behavioral health support, informed trauma therapy, two nutritious meals and one snack per day, medical, dental and vision screenings, and family support services.

The primary objective for Storyteller is to foster social emotional resiliency and school readiness, the most critical marker in the scholastic success of a child.

“With the partnership with Storyteller we are leaning into our best capabilities,” said Baushke. “Transition House understands how to support families facing housing insecurity and Storyteller understands how to support young children with therapeutic programs and education.

“Together we are truly working to break the cycle of poverty in our community.”   

Emphasizing the critical period of the first five years on brain development, Dr. Samira Kayumi Rashti spoke at Lunch with Love about the effect of trauma on cognitive health. These traumas and adverse experiences are mitigated through Storyteller’s programs at Transition House. 

Specific aspects of the partnership for Storyteller at Transition House Care Center will be finalized through a memorandum of understanding between the two parties.

Jacqueline Ryan, Storyteller program director, who is currently earning her doctorate in educational leadership, will oversee the Storyteller curriculum and programs at Transition House.

It was also announced at the luncheon that Storyteller Children’s Center will be bringing back its gala in honor of the organization’s 35th anniversary, Oct. 6 at the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort.

For more about Storyteller Children’s Center, visit Learn more about Transition House at