The County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a plan Tuesday to continue operations at San Pasqual Academy, as a way to turn it into a multi-purpose campus for foster kids.
Supervisors have asked Administrative Director Helen Robbins-Meyer to develop a plan for the campus that will include state and federal guidelines on licensing standards and more funding options.
The campus would serve those in foster care or at risk of being placed in foster care, unaccompanied minors, and youth in the juvenile justice system.
Supervisors also authorized the Procurement and Contracts Department to solicit bids for family resource homes and an on-campus group home providing mental health services.
Located in Escondido, the academy is described by county officials as the nation’s first residential educational campus designed specifically for foster youth. It was originally scheduled to close last October due to declining enrollment and loss of funding due to changes in state and federal laws regarding foster care.
In December, a San Diego Superior Court judge granted a temporary injunction that allowed the academy to remain open, after supporters filed a lawsuit challenging changes to state law.
Last May, county supervisors approved a proposal to “reinvent and restructure” the SPA in a manner consistent with federal and state law.
Two months later, supervisors unanimously approved a contract extension that will see the academy remain open until June 30, 2022.
Board Chairman Nathan Fletcher said in a statement that Tuesday’s vote “advances our clear commitment to provide more foster care services at the San Pasqual site. Adding new foster youth groups and by creating new services, we can augment and extend the work that has been done there for decades.
“We must also ensure that the care and support provided to existing youth in San Pasqual continues uninterrupted and we will work with state and federal authorities to ensure that we can serve as many youth as possible,” Fletcher added.
Supervisor Nora Vargas said she wanted to ensure SPA was functioning in its current form before moving to a new campus, while providing a sense of community and a support system.
Supervisor Jim Desmond said he was glad the plan “integrated the academy’s past and future”.
Board members also heard from former San Pasqual residents, some of whom proposed a permanent youth advisory board for the academy.