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A Special Organization for Special Families

Most parents in Santa Cruz would probably shrug at hearing the name SPIN; for others, it’s been a lifeline.

Formed in the 80’s as a support group for the parents of children with special needs, SPIN has grown into a nonprofit organization serving families throughout Santa Cruz and San Benito Counties. SPIN wears many hats:

·       It continues to offer parent support, most importantly with its mentor program, in which parents of children with disabilities are matched to a more experienced parents of children with similar challenges

·       It helps parents navigate the intricate avenues leading to care and education for children with special needs

·       It serves as a referral center for other service organizations, listing helpful links for those looking for support

·       It offers IEP clinics to help parents through this difficult and sometimes drawn-out process

·       It refers parents and adults with special needs to other programs that serve the community

“SPIN is all about helping parents to advocate for themselves,” says former longtime SPIN volunteer Nancy Winans.

“We only do one big fundraiser a year and that is in March—we have it planned for March 10, 2018,” says Cece Pinheiro, Executive Director. “This is what sets us apart—we don’t have the capacity to do more than one a year. The board works all year on it. We currently have five board members and we could use two more.”

SPIN works because of community support. If you want to give back to our community, contact SPIN about its open board positions. If you can’t join the board, consider giving a tax-deductible donation, volunteering to be a mentor parent, or offering another form of support.


For more information:

·      Special Parents Information Network (SPIN):

www.spinsc.org 831-423-7713

·      SPIN Síndrome de Down Support Group para familias hispanohablantes

Español: 831-722-2800

·      SPIN Online Yahoo Group for Parents:



Special Needs Resource Directory


Acsc Thunder Swimming

Head Coach Jim Triplett



Under the instruction of Coach Stacy Palmer Henderson, Adapted Physical Education Specialist and USA Swimming Certified Aquatics Swim Coach, children and teens with special needs will have an opportunity to participate in team workouts. Stroke development and modified sets will allow swimmers to develop skill and endurance. Swimmers participating in this Adaptive Aquatics Program may swim for fitness and/or train for competitive meets. Skill prerequisites are required.


Adaptive Yoga Project



Blind Babies Foundation



Blind Babies Foundation has been providing critical early intervention and education services to infants and preschoolers in Northern California who are blind or visually impaired since 1949. The program’s family-centered services are provided in the homes of the families we serve, encouraging every child’s development to the fullest degree possible with careful attention to their individual abilities and needs.


California Children Services Program (CCS)


California Children Services (CCS) is a statewide program that arranges, directs, and pays for medical care, equipment, and rehabilitation, when these services are authorized by the program.


Cerebral Palsy Guide



Cerebral Palsy Guide shares information about the treatment, therapies, and support that is available for those with CP and their families.


Cherryvale Art Farm

4900 Cherryvale Ave., Soquel



The Cherryvale Art Farm welcomes all children ages pre-K through 8th grade. For those with special needs our facility and curriculum are geared for flexibility. Our owner/director, Cynthia Anderson Rothmeier, led the art program for many years in SUESD primary classrooms, including the SDC students. We are wheelchair accessible, and welcome students with aides. Please email with questions and availability to  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Cris Colip, M.S., CCC-SLP, SpeechRighter – Brain Waves Therapies

820 Bay Ave - Ste.210, Capitola



Speech-Language and Brain Training Therapies featuring the Fast ForWord© series of computer learning programs designed to increase reading comprehension and academic success. Speed ahead or catch Up this summer with research backed cognitive, linguistic and auditory training for all students including those with dyslexia, auditory processing deficits and language impairment. Increase memory, attention and processing speed in just 4- 8 weeks.


Cystic Fibrosis Foundation


The mission of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is to cure cystic fibrosis and to provide all people with the disease the opportunity to lead full, productive lives by funding research and drug development, promoting individualized treatment and ensuring access to high-quality, specialized care.


Early Start


An early intervention program for children from birth to 36 months of age who have disabilities or are at risk of having disabilities.


The Epilepsy Foundation



Jacob’s Heart

Children’s Cancer Support Services



We provide family-centered care that addresses the emotional, practical and financial struggles for families of children and teens during treatment, families experiencing anticipatory grief and those who are bereaved.


Music Together/MusicalMe, Inc.



Our mission is to serve all children, including those with special needs and also schools that serve children with disabilities. Over 20 years ago, our local director, Lizz Hodgin, was inspired to get involved because of her son Daniel, who is on the Autistic Spectrum and has Down Syndrome. Since that time, many local families have joyfully participated in class, feeling fully supported and comfortable in the group setting. What makes Music Together such a great fit for families who have children with special needs is that this program is not performance-oriented. Rather, it’s about creating a learning environment and allowing children to learn wherever they are developmentally. Music learning supports all learning, regardless of ability, and in this class your whole family will not only learn, but also sing, dance and play together in a joyful, inclusive way.


National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Santa Cruz Chapter



Parents Helping Parents



Brent J. Porter, D.D.S.

550 Water Street, Suite D-1, Santa Cruz



It is quite an honor to provide preventative care for our patients with special needs. These sweet patients require a team approach, often times with special tools! Growing up with a brother with special needs has endeared my office with a tenderness for these wonderful families and "Kids." Thanks, Dr. Porter and Team


QuickSilver Swimming

(Lucas Salles-Cunha)



QuickSilver Swimming strives to have a nationally recognized competitive aquatics program that teaches and trains all levels of swimmers, emphasizing individual progress, team unity, family participation, and competition at the highest individual level. We are committed to improving the water skills of the local community in Santa Cruz County, led by coaches involved in the community. We also work with special needs kids. For more information on special needs programs please contact Coach Lucas at mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


Ride a Wave


Ride a Wave's mission is to give children with special needs the chance to feel the thrill of riding a wave and experience a safe, fun-filled day at the beach, whether they are physically, developmentally or economically challenged.


The Santa Cruz Playground Project


Bringing the community together to build an inclusive playground for all our children.


Scotts Valley Library Special Needs Resource Center:



The Special Needs Resource Center (SNRC) was created in response to the increasing need to provide information and guidance to families, educators, and providers to the special needs community. It is a collaborative effort between the Scotts Valley Friends of the Library (FVSVPL) and the Santa Cruz Public Libraries (Library).


Seahorse Swim School Inc

831.476.SWIM (7946)


Swim lessons are available with Seahorse Swim School for those with special needs. Tiffany Harmon has experience working with children on the Autistic Spectrum and those with attention issues. Private lessons are suggested to cater the lesson to each student's individual needs.


Special Parents Information Network



SPIN's mission is to help children with special needs achieve their full potential by empowering their families and the professionals who serve them through information, support and resources.


This is by no means a complete list of all the resources in Santa Cruz County. If you would like to have an organization included in this resource list, please email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . GUiSC is not responsible for any errors or omissions, nor does inclusion in this listing constitute endorsement of a program. To be included in future resource guides please email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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