Imperiled North County foster academy granted extension by state

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ESCONDIDO, Calif. — The San Pasqual Academy in Escondido has received the extension that advocates have been fighting for for months, allowing the home and learning academy for foster youth to remain open until June 2022.

Earlier this year, the academy received notice that it needed to close by October 2021. The state said it was moving away from housing foster youth in group living facilities and instead place them in homes, leaving institutions like San Pasqual on the outs. Officials also cited declining enrollment.

But in the months that followed, community leaders rallied around the academy, which is currently home to 83 foster youth and many more alumni from its 20 years of operation.

Their first victory came when the San Diego County Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed to ask the state to extend operations at the academy, and agreed to foot the $1.4 million bill for the loss of federal Title IV funding. Now the state has agreed to the county’s plan.

Shane Harris, an activist who leads the People’s Association of Justice Advocates and who spent time at the academy himself in his youth, says the community’s advocacy and pressure to stop the imminent closure forced the state and county to extend the timeline for the closure.

“I know what it feels like to be told that you’re going to lose your home. I know what it feels like to be told that you’re going to be moved from one location to another location. I know what it feels like to be told that you have no choice or no hand in where you go. And I also know that it’s not right,” Harris said Wednesday, hailing the news of the extension.

But the work isn’t done: Now advocates say they are pushing to get the academy reclassified by the state so it can remain open indefinitely.

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