ESCONDIDO, Calif. – The fight continues to keep San Pasqual Academy open and running in Escondido. It’s believed to be the first live-in educational campus for foster youth in the country.
On Saturday, state Sen. Brian Jones toured the facility. He’s one of several elected officials involved in the bi-partisan effort to keep the academy open until June 2022.
“I wouldn’t be graduating high school, I wouldn’t even be looking at college,” said San Pasqual student Eman Mansour. “I’d probably just be working a minimum wage job.”
Mansour said she wouldn’t be where she’s at today if it weren’t for SPA. She was struggling with school until she decided to move into the academy. She said it gave her the stability and resources for success. Now she’s headed for college in San Francisco.
She’s one of many people fighting to keep the San Pasqual Academy from closing its doors to foster youth after the state announced it plans to end the program this October.
A letter from the state cited a decline in enrollment and a new law that aims to place foster kids in families instead of congregated care programs.
Just last month, San Diego County supervisors voted unanimously to ask the state for an extension to keep the academy running through June 2022, though some are still skeptical about keeping its doors open for good. Supervisor Jim Desmond noted the county should look for options to keep the academy operating past that date.
Government Affairs Liaison and former San Pasqual student Shane Harris is leading the fight to keep the academy open.
He said the program is known for working to keep siblings together, housing a high percentage of African-American and Latino foster youth, and provides much-needed stability for teens and furthers support into adulthood.
“This place is critical for the youth that are here, and we need at least the youth that are graduating in June of this year and June of next year to be able to have the opportunity to finish their term,” Harris said.
For now, SPA is waiting on the state to see if it will allow it to operate until next summer.
Harris said he has invited all of the county supervisors to tour the academy, and that Supervisor Nora Vargas is scheduled to visit on Monday.