The mission of the Services for Children & Youth Department is to revolutionize the role of youth in society and to raise their expectations of respect and safety through role modeling, advocacy and education. Our programs are designed to empower at risk children and youth. We are working towards the time when all youth are treated with respect regardless of religion, race, class, age, gender identity or sexual orientation.

All of our programs are based on the Integrative Youth Development (IYD) model. IYD is a full spectrum approach that prepares children and teens for success. IYD is an ecological youth development model that incorporates all of the evidence based resiliency frameworks. We offer three different categories of programming for children and youth through life skills workshopsmentoring, and support groups.

Teen Support Groups
Our teen groups are for youth age 12 – 18 who need extra support in their lives.  Through games, art, journaling and discussion we explore feelings and talk about a wide range of topics including healthy relationships, friendships, emotions, healthy body image, communication, healthy decision making and stress relief. Groups are held at the Walnut Avenue Family & Women’s Center and eight week sessions can be implemented in other settings, such as schools or community based programs. 
“One thing I really liked about the group was the fact that it gave me a place to feel comfortable.”  –Youth 14 
“I learned to respect myself and others.”  –Youth 13
“The facilitators are great; without them I wouldn’t be a completed person, I feel so much better.” –Youth 12
“I feel different after (Group).  Like, I'm more ready to live the rest of my life. This was really important to me,” –Youth 15
 “I like that I can talk to the leaders about whatever is going on in my life.”  –Youth 13
“We play games and do different activities each week, it’s fun!” –Youth 12

The mentor program is a fun and great way to provide support, and to build assets in young people. We offer two mentor programs; Drop in One-on-one mentoring for youth ages 12 – 18 and group mentoring (Kids Group) for children ages infancy – 11 years old.

One-on-One Mentoring:
In the one-on-one mentor program youth can meet with a trained volunteer or staff advocate. The Youth Advocates offer a safe, supportive space to talk about challenging situations and learn problem solving skills. 
“I can tell my mentor anything! We have so much fun too.” –Mentee

Kids Group:
Trained volunteers provide a safe place for kids to play and engage with supportive mentors while their parent/guardian is participating in one of our support groups, financial literacy classes, or parenting classes. Kids Club also provides additional opportunities for parent and child engagement through our weekly story time, which uses evidence based curriculum to promote healing for families.

It is the policy of Walnut Avenue Family & Women’s Center to provide equal employment, volunteer opportunities and services (EEO) to all persons regardless of race, color, religion, religious creed (including religious dress and grooming practices),national origin, ancestry, citizenship, physical or mental disability, medical condition (including cancer and genetic characteristics), genetic information, marital status, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or related medical conditions), gender, gender identity, gender expression, age (40 years and over), sexual orientation, veteran and/or military status, protected medical leaves (requesting or approved for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act or the California Family Rights Act), domestic violence victim status, political affiliation, and any other status protected by federal, state or local law.


Life Skills Workshop
Our Services for Children & Youth department offers life skills workshops that stimulate discussion and awareness about a variety of important and often hard-to-discuss topics. These workshops encourage young people to critically examine themselves, their communities, and society as a whole.  Trained facilitators lead workshops in classrooms, after school programs, group homes, and other community based organizations. Our programs create an atmosphere that fosters self-esteem and self-awareness among everyone participating.

The Healthy Relationships Workshop
The “Healthy Relationships Workshop” is a creative and interactive workshop which promotes healthy relationships and dialogue around issues of dating and domestic violence. This workshop has been created based on the high prevalence of teen dating violence and domestic violence across the United States and the world. Topics include teen dating violence, power and control, gender, healthy communication with friends, parents and in dating relationships. Facilitators create a comfortable atmosphere for youth to share and express their own values and beliefs around relationships. They are taught about local resources and ways to help their friends who may encounter teen dating violence or domestic violence.
“I really liked your program. I learned a lot, and it was really, really helpful. Thank you!”  –Workshop Participant

I Decide
“I Decide” is a comprehensive sex education program that promotes healthy decision making.  The facilitators use concrete lessons in order for youth to grasp and retain the valuable information. “I Decide” investigates assumptions and beliefs about gender and sexuality through the exploration of healthy relationships, sexuality, birth control, reproductive anatomy, understanding consent, ways to deal with peer pressure, problem solving, and communication skills. This workshop promotes critical thinking skills so the youth are reminded that they are the experts in their own lives in order to think about their future based on their current decisions.
"I liked how you explained things. I learned a lot, like where you can get help.” –Workshop Participant
“I like the fact that you guys were so open, and even shared with us your own personal experiences.” –Workshop Participant

Youth Advocate Training
The Youth Advocate Training happens once a year in the Fall. Our training includes several topics to help prepare trainees to support youth ages infancy – 18 years old. Once trained our Volunteer Youth Advocates are asked to make a 12 month commitment to the program.

This year we will hosting a combined training with our Services for Survivors of Domestic Violence Department.

The Youth Advocacy portion of the training prepares volunteers to:

  • Support Participant's Emergency Needs and be a Mentor to youth : Trained Youth Advocates help with emergency/basic needs of participants at our main office while being available to meet with children and youth who need support

    • Emergency Needs support for our Food Pantry and Donation Barn

    • Group mentoring for youth ages infant – 11 years old

    • Drop in One-on-one mentoring for youth ages 12 – 18 years old

  • Co-facilitate Life Skills Workshops for teens: Trained Youth Advocates facilitate workshops at our agency, local schools and/or at other local non-profits.

    • I Decide ~ Comprehensive sex education and teen pregnancy prevention

    • Healthy Relationships ~ Workshop to explore healthy friendships, communication and dating relationships

 All applicants must attend a general Volunteer Orientation before registering for training. To sign up for an orientation please call 831-426-3062!

Funding for this program provided by

  • Appleton Foundation

  • CalOES

  • Kaiser Foundation

  • FEMA

  • County of Santa Cruz

  • City of Scotts Valley