The A.B. and Jessie Polinsky Children’s Center is San Diego County’s emergency shelter for children who cannot remain at home as a result of abuse or neglect.

The A. B. and Jessie Polinsky Children’s Center opened in 1994. Promises2Kids, known then as the Child Abuse Prevention Foundation, raised $12 million to build this 6-acre facility which is the County’s only short-term emergency shelter for children and now a national model for the protection and care of abused and neglected children. The average length of stay is 7 days. The campus is county operated and includes six residential cottages, an infant nursery, medical clinic, school, library, cafeteria, gymnasium, 2 swimming pools, 2 playgrounds, and an outdoor athletic field. Promises2Kids provides funding to support direct services to youth at the center. 

Over 1,000 children are cared for annually at the Polinsky Children’s Center

Support by Promises2Kids:


Developmental Screening and Enhancement Program (DSEP)

Children entering foster care have a number of risk factors for developmental and behavioral difficulties. Studies show that 10% of children in the general population have developmental delay and 5% have a behavior need. In contrast, up to 60% of children in foster care have developmental delay and up to 30% have a behavior need. DSEP provides assessment, referrals, education, support and case management for children ages 0 to 5 to help address these needs. All children under the age of 6 receive a developmental assessment plan, regardless of whether or not the child enters foster care through the A.B. and Jessie Polinksy Children’s Center. 


Youth2Youth Program

This powerful peer-driven program provides emotional support and life skills training to current foster youth at the Polinsky Children’s Center. All EFC Mentors are Guardian Scholars and former foster youth over the age of 18.  Mentors are selected, coached, supervised and trained. The foster youth benefits by having a mentor and friend who has ‘been there’ and understands the challenges foster youth face. The relationship developed between the Youth Mentor and foster youth is a special one and driven by the unique trust developed between two individuals with common experiences.

Young Boy Hugging White Dog

Pet Therapy Program

The children at the Polinsky Children’s Center have learned cruel and neglectful behavior from an adult. As a result, these children are at a much higher risk of becoming abusive themselves, either to another human being or to an animal.  The goal of the PET program at the Polinsky Children’s Center is to break the cycle of suffering, cruelty, and neglect by bringing unconditional love and the tactile benefits of animals to abused, neglected and abandoned children.

Young Kids with Arms across Shoulders in Park

Health, Recreation and Wellness

A host of fun, entertaining and relaxing recreational activities are provided for the children at the Polinsky Children’s Center including sports and recreational activities, yoga, and nutritional education. Fun is an important part of every childhood – many of these children have not had much fun in their lives. We ensure every child regains the opportunity to smile, giggle, and enjoy new peer camaraderie, while residing at the Polinsky Children’s Center.