Background of Organization


Year founded: The Santa Maria Valley Youth and Family Center  (SMVYFC) began as a branch office of the Social Advocates for Youth, Santa Barbara in 1974.  The office incorporated separately in 1976 as Social Advocates for Youth, Santa Maria. In 1980 the agency underwent a name change to the Santa Maria Valley Youth and Family Center to reflect its broadening services base and better identify our service area.


Mission of the organization: The Center’s vision is that all children and their families in our community have a safe, nurturing, and respectful environment to reach their full potential.  In order to fulfill that vision the Center’s mission is to provide a comprehensive continuum of quality, affordable, accessible and culturally competent prevention, intervention and treatment services to youth and their families to improve the overall quality of their lives.


Geographical area: SMVYFC’s geographical area is the Santa Maria Valley, specifically the communities of Santa Maria, Orcutt, and Guadalupe.


History of organization: As a branch office of Social Advocates for Youth, Santa Barbara the agency provided a mentor program resembling a Big Brothers/Big Sister called the Advocate Match Program.  The agency expanded its service delivery to include substance abuse education and prevention services and some counseling services.  It was during this expansion of services that the agency underwent an incorporation separate from the Santa Barbara office because of the recognition that the two communities had significant  differences in needs.  After incorporation the agency further expanded its counseling services, adding to its program youth substance abuse treatment, juvenile delinquency, and family services.  In 1978 the agency began a partnership with the Santa Maria Elementary School District to provide counseling services on-site.  In 1980 a partnership began with the Orcutt Union School District and the Guadalupe School District.  All of these partnerships continue today and SMVYFC provides counseling, outreach and advocacy services on all K-12th grade campuses in the districts through direct funding from the school districts and other grant programs.  The 1980 name change to the Santa Maria Valley Youth and Family Center reflected the refocusing of the Center to provide therapeutic services for the growing numbers of children and families referred to the agency through public and private referral sources.  The Center became the primary children’s mental health provider for the Probation Department, Child Welfare, County Mental Health, and the schools providing prevention services (parent education, outreach and referral), intervention services (school counseling, truancy) and treatment services (substance abuse, delinquency, child abuse).


The vision of SMVYFC’s programing is that families are safe, nurturing, and respectful environments that promote physically, emotionally, and mentally healthful environments for children to grow and develop to reach their full potential.  The Center’s programs have helped youths gain a clean and sober lifestyle, helped parents gain appropriate parenting skills to reunite with their children, helped deter youth from a path of delinquency with better decision making and problem solving skills, relieved anxiety and depression in children who experienced trauma, helped families that had experience disruption through separation, divorce, or death learn how to cope with the grief and fear to see a future, helped family access resources for basic needs such as food and clothing, and help children increase their feeling of belongingness and cohesion with social competency skills.  Resilient children and families, communities, and schools with protective factors are the goals of SMVYFC.