San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) employees who
support foster and homeless children moved to a new office in July as part of a
partnership with a nonprofit group offering rent-free office space.
Ten employees in SDCOE’s Foster Youth Services Coordinating Program and Homeless Education Services unit will now work in a building owned by Casey Family Programs, a
nonprofit operating foundation that supports children and youth in foster care.
The foundation has agreed to allow the employees to join
other agencies currently working in The Family and Youth and Family Transition
Center in the office in Old Town rent-free. All of the other organizations support
youth who are or were in foster care.
The arrangement will save the SDCOE unit about $85,000 a
year. Before the move, the employees worked in leased space in Clairemont Mesa.
Having the different organizations under one roof also will
help foster children and families find valuable resources. The Transition
Center fulfills the vision that services
and resources related to independent living, housing, education, and mental
health can all be accessed in one place.
“It can be a one-stop shop for services,” said Michelle
Lustig, who oversees the SDCOE unit.
The collaboration will also help each organization to work
more effectively, said Lisa Tange, director at Casey Family Programs.
“If more hallway conversations can happen, then duplication
of services can decrease,” she said.
Casey Family Programs was founded by Jim Casey, the man who
started UPS, in 1966 to benefit kids and families in the foster care system. The program has nine field offices, including
the one in San Diego, which it owns.
“We have the ability to provide the space,” Tange said, “and
hopefully people will be able to use their resources to support kids.”