New Alternatives, Inc., a non-profit organization with more than 30-years experience serving children and families in the San Diego community, administers the residential program at San Pasqual Academy. After two national searches for a residential provider, New Alternatives, Inc. was selected for their willingness to step outside of the box, and operate this first-in-the-nation residential education program for foster teens. New Alternatives, Inc. works closely with the campus partners to provide a seamless delivery of services to the Academy youth. New Alternatives, Inc.’s main responsibility is the daily care and supervision of the Academy youth; they also provide programming to complement the school and work readiness components.
San Pasqual Academy is licensed through the State of California Community Care Licensing. Unfortunately, the Academy falls into the category of group home, as there is no legislation on record to recognize the unique features of a residential education program. Despite some of the licensing restraints, New Alternatives, Inc. provides an excellent array of services to prepare the Academy youth for independent living upon emancipation from the foster care system. New Alternatives, Inc. demonstrates a strong commitment to normalize and offer age appropriate activities for the developing teens on campus.
Youth live in family-style homes with up to eight youth per home. The homes are spacious and feature a common living room, kitchen, dining room, laundry space, bedrooms and bathrooms for the youth, and a suite for the houseparent staff. Two youth share a bedroom, which they can personalize to their own taste, and an adjoining bathroom with two other youth. Youth have access to computers in the home, including internet access in the common living area. The houseparents have personal space in an adjoining suite, which features a bedroom and bathroom, living room, dining area, and kitchenette.
While each home has basic program rules and regulations to follow, there is flexibility to meet the needs of each youth. Day-to-day family activities in the home include doing homework, planning and preparing meals, completing household chores, and participating in family meetings. Going on outings off-campus is another activity in which the youth can participate.
In an effort to maintain sibling groups, San Pasqual Academy is able to accept 12-13 year old middle school youth for placement. These younger siblings attend middle school in the community until they are promoted to ninth grade and can then attend the Academy’s on-site high school.
Academy youth have access to comprehensive health services on and off campus. New Alternatives, Inc. works collaboratively with community health providers to ensure that medical and dental needs are met. Mental health services are provided through an Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) funded day rehabilitation program on campus. The behavioral health needs are met by houseparents, childcare staff, and the school.
In addition to providing for the Academy youth’s care and supervision, New Alternatives, Inc. offers several other services on campus to enrich the lives of the youth.
The Sulpizio Family Health and Wellness Center on campus complements the Academy’s health and mental health services, contributing to the youth’s development of life-long, positive healthy behaviors and promoting a healthy community. The Center’s vision is to establish a “culture of wellness” through health education, health prevention strategies, and intervention services in key areas. In addition to offering medical services, the Center offers workshops on stress management, healthy relationships, nutrition, fitness and substance abuse. The Center has medical exam rooms, room for future dental equipment, one conference room, one multi-purpose room, and patio space.
The Day Rehabilitation Clinic, funded by Early and Periodic, Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) dollars, provides additional support to Academy youth to help them overcome emotional or behavioral obstacles. The Clinic staff counsels the youth on necessary development skills to help them become successful, independent adults. An extensive recreational therapy component is offered through the Clinic to work with students on team work, impulse control, leisure skill development, physical fitness, exploration of personal strengths, and relieving depressive and anxious symptoms. Family and/or sibling sessions are available as an intervention if necessary.San Pasqual Academy Neighbors
Grandparents can be a source of compassion, understanding, experience and love. The San Pasqual Academy Neighbors (SPAN) program allows Academy youth to have surrogate grandparents to call their own. An intergenerational mentoring program, SPAN, offers youth a network of community support to promote educational and social success, and provides the youth and grandparents with a mutually beneficial relationship.
Through SPAN, enthusiastic older adults (over the age of 55) live on the grounds of San Pasqual Academy in private homes for a reduced rent. In exchange for the reduced rent, the older adults serve as surrogate grandparents, volunteering 10 hours a week with the Academy youth. The grandparents share their wisdom, insight, friendship, and experience with the youth. They assist the youth in developing social skills, making life choices, developing career interests and modeling adult/adolescent interactions. In addition to working one-on-one with the youth, the grandparents provide tutoring in a variety of subjects and supplement the school curriculum by conducting activities such as poetry readings and other artistic ventures. The grandparents also guide non-academic pursuits such as gardening, sewing, cooking, and crafts.
SPAN has recently initiated a new component where seniors who wish to volunteer with Academy youth but do not wish to live on campus can volunteer to work with the program and the youth.
When Academy youth are not in school, studying, or working, New Alternatives, Inc. offers them plenty to keep busy. Youth participate in recreational activities year-round through campus-wide programming and with the SPAN grandparents. Outings include trips to local museums, amusement parks, cultural events, sports venues, and concerts; hiking, bicycling, roller skating, ice skating, and camping; and, of course, shopping and going to the movies. Youth have an abundance of activities to enjoy at San Pasqual Academy.