SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The county Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a plan Tuesday to continue operations at the San Pasqual Academy in Escondido, as a way to transition it into a multipurpose campus for foster youth.

Supervisors directed Helen Robbins-Meyer, chief administrative officer, to develop a plan for the campus that will include state and federal guidance on licensing standards and more funding options.

The campus would serve those in foster care or at risk of entering foster care, unaccompanied minors and youth in the juvenile justice system.

Supervisors also authorized the Department of Purchasing and Contracting to solicit bids for resource family homes and a group home on the campus featuring mental health services.

Located in Escondido, the academy is described by county officials as a first-in-the-nation residential educational campus designed specifically for foster youth. It was originally slated to close last October due to declining enrollment and a loss of funding due to changes in state and federal law 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 the changes in state law.

Last May, county supervisors approved a proposal to “re-imagine and restructure” SPA in a manner consistent with state and federal law.

Two months later, supervisors unanimously approved extending a contract that will allow the academy to remain open through June 30, 2022.

Board Chairman Nathan Fletcher said in a statement that Tuesday’s vote “advances our clear commitment to providing more foster care services on the San Pasqual site. By adding new groups of foster youth and building out new services we can augment and expand the work that has been done there for decades.

“We must also ensure that the care and support provided to the existing youth at San Pasqual continue uninterrupted and we will be working with state and federal officials to ensure we can serve as many youths as possible,” Fletcher added.

Supervisor Nora Vargas said she wants to ensure that SPA operates in its current form before transitioning into a new campus, while also offering a sense of belonging and a support system.

Supervisor Jim Desmond said he was glad the plan “incorporates the past and the future for the academy.”

Board members also heard from former San Pasqual residents, some of whom proposed a permanent academy youth advisory board.

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