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Estrella Family Services

Since 1973, Estrella Family Services, (formerly Gardner Children's Center, Inc.) has provided comprehensive subsidized child care and developmental services in the Gardner district of San Jose.

Our agency incorporates values of parent participation, economic self-sufficiency, education and cultural sensitivity into our programs.

Estrella Family Services believes that a child's health and well-being are an integral part of his/her proper development and education. Consequently, we work with local health providers to offer our children annual dental, hearing, and vision screenings at no cost to the parent. We are also affiliated with a consortium of child care agencies to offer on site, mental health services to our families.

NAEYC Accreditation - Estrella Family Services has earned accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children - the nation's leading organization of early childhood professionals.

Our Corporate Office:
1155 Meridian Avenue, Suite 110, San Jose, California 95125

Kids to Camp Program

Kids to Camp's or KTC's mission is to promote the social, emotional, cultural and physical well being of limited income children and their families. Our goal is to make quality empowering camp experiences accessible to those who would not otherwise have the opportunity. Camp reaches far beyond the 5 to 12 day outdoor experience, which includes activities enjoyed in nature such as swimming, hiking and ropes courses. The child is placed in a positive, healthy and safe environment that provides them the opportunity to make choices, gain self-esteem and independence and to spend quality time with positive role models. Camp is the highlight of their year. The special memory of sleeping under the stars and singing around the campfire lingers long after summer fades away. The relief from urban pressure and the chance to join in the camp spirit allows these youths to participate in a happy, healthy experience.

We have designed an outcome survey as an instrument to measure the extent to which camp enhanced self-esteem, peer relationships, strong character, and leadership/teamwork. These outcomes help produce the long-term outcomes for youth in terms of improved educational attainment, employment, family life, and good citizenship. This information is used for continuous quality improvement and to facilitate "better matches" between the needs and interests of campers and their families and what camps provide.

The following are examples of how we support each family's camping experience. We discuss which camps are best suited to achieve each child’s individual needs. We provide Spanish-speaking staff as needed. Whenever possible, we refer families to low cost physical examinations and mobile vaccination clinics. We loan sleeping bags upon request.


  • Fees are based on a sliding scale
  • Be a resident of Santa Cara County
  • Be between the ages of 3-12


Estrella's Parent Services Project

Estrella's Parent Services Project (PSP) is our approach to parent involvement and family support. This approach is based upon the recognition that the well-being and sense of significance of parents are of central importance to the development of children. We believe families and parents are the most important people in a child's life. The well-being of the family is the key to the well-being of the child. One of the most important ways to care for children is to take steps to assure the well-being of their parents.

Accordingly our PSP is based upon our parent’s self-defined needs. It is rooted in a set of principles that understands parents as competent and possessing strengths. We view parents as assets to be worked with and as important teachers in their children's lives. These principles guide the program's activities, inspire the actions of our parents and staff, and serve as a standard by which program quality is defined.

Estrella's PSP is designed to meet the needs of our families: single-parent, working, of diverse ethnic backgrounds, in training, and vulnerable because of high stress brought on by poverty, poor housing and lack of security. The goal of the project is to raise parent's sense of importance, diminish feelings of isolation, increase their parenting skills and help then secure the resources they need for themselves and their children.

Estrella's PSP is an approach to parent involvement that integrates family support principles and services, but it is not simply a parent education program. It is a program designed to develop an interactive social network of parents that is driven by our parents, their wants and their needs. Part of PSP's purpose is to give parents the opportunity to relax, socialize and have fun. The activities that emerge grow from and reflect the culture of our agency as well as the specific needs and ethnic and cultural contexts of the families involved.

Our PSP works on the concept of shared leadership. Each Fall at our Parent Wish Night a menu of services and activities is developed collaboratively by parents and agency staff. Participants make their own choices about their involvement during the year. Our PSP coordinators build relationships and enthusiasm for the program. They do not do the program for parents, but rather support parents in organizing the activities they want. Services have included health workshops, cooking nights, bingo games, community service referrals, training in parenting skills, social gatherings and family outings.