Foster Care Challenge
San Pasqual Academy, the first-in-the-nation residential education campus for foster youth, was conceived by the County of San Diego Board of Supervisors following Chairman Greg Cox’s Foster Care Conference in April 1998. During the Conference, former and current foster youth spoke about their fears of their futures, as well as the futures of other foster youth; their stories were poignant and gripping. They shared with the Board their feelings of being unprepared to live on their own, their frustrations with moving in and out of multiple foster homes, and their inability to succeed in school due to the lack of stability in their lives.
The County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency and the Juvenile Court also expressed deep concerns about the situation and the after-care statistics for foster youth. In 2000, and continuing into 2006, there were approximately 6300 youth in foster care in San Diego County. Of those who emancipated, 30 percent experienced episodes of homelessness within a year of leaving foster care – higher than the state average. Studies also showed foster youth had serious difficulties finding and keeping jobs, getting an education and learning the skills necessary to live independently.
Studies also revealed that a typical adolescent foster youth moves between homes an average of 10 times, and attends five or six different high schools…83 percent of foster youth are held back by the third grade…75 percent complete class work below grade level…35 percent are in special education…and as few as 15 percent enroll in college.
It was clear that something needed to be done to give San Diego County foster youth a safe, stable and caring environment where they could work towards their high school diploma, prepare for college and/or a vocation and develop crucial independent living skills. San Pasqual Academy was developed to provide the foster youth with a place they could call home.