News Release


DATE: October 30, 2002

CONTACT STEVE SCHMIDT AT 619-531-4766 or 619-206-9108



SAN DIEGO - The County of San Diego hopes a new program designed to keep foster children from being shuffled through the system will make life less chaotic for foster children in East County.

The East County Way Station program was set up at the direction of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, and is tied to a goal of the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency to keep foster children in homes located in their communities.

Previously, more than half of these children were being placed in the Polinsky Children's Center in Kearny Mesa, or in foster homes throughout the county. Since early 2002, the Agency's East Region staff has worked in partnership with East County community agencies and foster families to determine the best approach for the area. The Way Station was the result. Research indicates children do better if they are able to stay in familiar surroundings and attend their own school.

"For foster children, continuity of friends, teachers and neighborhoods is an important factor for long-term success," says Dianne Jacob, Second District Supervisor. "Our number one goal is the safety of each child, but if the County can protect children and minimize the trauma of unfamiliar surroundings, children will be better able to learn."

The Way Station project sets up emergency foster homes for 10- to 30-day placements in East County, and arranges additional Foster Family Agency homes for children with special needs. The pilot program allows children to remain in a home-like environment while staff finds a more permanent placement in the vicinity. Whenever possible, school-aged children will be transported to their own school.

The pilot will run until April 2004.