Nancy Spector, Leigh & Gordon Boerner, Grace Chi-Miller-medium


We engage a caring community to help transition age foster youth achieve self-sufficiency and well-being.

What is the primary purpose of Just in Time?

Just in Time builds a community of support for foster youth to become capable, confident, and connected and to break the cycle of foster care after they leave the foster care system. That lasting network of caring adults and peers helps empower them to reach their full potential and achieve their goals and dreams.

How many youth do you serve?

We served nearly 2,000 young people ages  in FY’ 2022. In general, the breakdown is 63% females, 36% males, and .5 gender nonconforming (.5% did not state). Youth are eligible for JIT services if they live in San Diego County, have spent any time in foster care (within or outside of San Diego County), and are currently working, going to school, or have definite plans to do so.

What is unique about Just in Time?

1) Connection to Community is JIT’s most significant focus. We believe disconnection is the most significant gap for young people impacted by foster care, so every JIT service/activity incorporates connections to peers and adults who truly care about their best interest.

2) Comprehensive Support is key to lasting impact so JIT’s intention is to provide ALL the support that a healthy family would normally provide, with personalized assistance based on each youth’s expressed needs and situation – not a “one size fits all” approach.

3) Cultivating Youth Voice means honoring youth experience and sharing the power with those impacted by foster care as partners in creating solutions. In fact, half our staff and nearly all our Youth Services coordinators are former foster youth.

What are the JIT services?

All JIT services are impact-driven and customized to meet the needs of the individual. They include: Basic Needs (emergency/foundational financial support), My First Home (furnishing and moving into first apartments), Changing Lanes/Auto Access (attaining driver’s licenses and reliable transportation), Financial Fitness 101, 102, & 103 (financial literacy and establishing savings), Career Horizons for Young Women (professional and personal development through a network of women), Bridges to Success for Young Men (professional and personal development through a brotherhood of men), College Bound (support for reaching educational goals, both undergraduate and graduate), Pathways to Financial Power/NEXTJobs (work readiness, career development, and smart money management), and Rise to Resilience (building resilience to mitigate the effects of ACEs – Adverse Childhood Experiences).

How does JIT measure impact?

Each service we offer has its own set of intended impacts that we use to gauge effectiveness. We evaluate both quantitative and qualitative data for short-term outcomes and for lasting impact toward our ultimate goals. For example, we know that the college graduation rate for foster youth nationwide is 3-6%. By contrast, since 2006, 75-80% of JIT College Bound participants have either graduated or are still enrolled in school. Our most recent report called LIFT (Lasting Impact Fulfillment Tracking), which surveyed JIT alumni up to age 35, has confirmed that Just in Time is changing lives and breaking the cycle of foster care.

What is Just in Time doing to address ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences), a topic which has been in the news a lot lately as a major cause of physical and mental health issues?

We view mental wellness as an essential and basic need and have developed a JIT Mental Wellness Resource as well as hired a licensed therapist to help participants explore and heal their trauma.  Rise to Resilience is our empowerment service that educates our community about the impacts of ACEs and to give participants with high ACE scores access to the eight strategies that have been proven to mitigate those impacts, including: therapy, nutrition, exercise, mindfulness, sleep, healthy relationships, guided self-exploration for healing, and play. It is our intention for all participants to have access to these strategies and to benefit from them.

How many youth leave foster care each year?

Because youth are now exiting foster care at different ages, there are no definitive stats. The conventional estimate has been that about 300 youth leave foster care per year in San Diego County. Unlike government-funded agencies, JIT serves all youth who have spent ANY TIME in foster care, not just those who stay in foster care until a specific age.

How do youth find Just in Time?

JIT believes it is our responsibility to locate as many young adults as possible who have been impacted by foster care. We reach out to schools, community colleges and four-year universities, as well as organizations such as Voices for Children and San Pasqual Academy. Other ways youth find JIT are: word-of-mouth (siblings and friends), internet and media, case managers, social workers, and court advocates.

How many JIT staff are there?

There are 43 staff in Youth Services, Volunteer Services, Development, Marketing, and Operations. Approximately half of our staff have lived experience in foster care.

How Can I Apply to Join the JIT Team?

Please email us at to apply or get more information.

How and when did Just in Time begin?

In 2003, child advocacy attorney Jeanette Day saw that youth were leaving foster care with subsidized housing but no furnishings. She recruited her friends Diane Cox, Louarn Sorkin, and others to start collecting gently used furniture. In 2007, two other JIT co-founders Tony Hsu and Kathryn Vaughn secured official nonprofit status for JIT. Over time, the scope of services has expanded based on the expressed needs of the youth we serve.

Is Just in Time a 501-c-3 nonprofit organization?

Yes, all donations are fully tax-deductible except for event sponsorships/tickets when the dinner portion is NOT tax deductible ($125).

What role does the JIT Board play?

JIT has a governing Board, instrumental in JIT’s evolution and sustainability, establishing strategic direction and providing fiduciary oversight. The Board supports the Executive Director, participates in task forces, and generates funds.

Does Just in Time collaborate with other groups?

Collaboration is an important part of the JIT culture. We have over 150 collaborative partners.  Recently, we collaborated with San Diego Center for Children to create a bridge for youth from in-care to adulthood. We also join with others to create systemic change, such as the San Diego County “Strengthen Children Families Advisory Board.”  As part of our 100K Community goal to share and replicate the JIT model nationwide, we have formalized partnerships with like-minded organizations across the United States. And are continuously expanding our reach via the JIT Network.

How many volunteers does JIT have and what role do they play?

Volunteers are the reason why JIT succeeds. In FY’ 22, we had 535 individuals participate as volunteer youth coaches, Financial Fitness advisors, My First Home guides, event volunteers, and workshop presenters. There are roles to suit a variety of talents, interests, and time frames.

How can I get involved?

We’d love for you to join the JIT Family, either as a volunteer, an investor, or an advocate. Just let one of us know if you’re interested and we’ll have someone follow up with you.  You can also visit the Volunteer section of our website and learn about Ways to give here.

What can I do that would help the most?

There are many ways to engage in Just in Time, which makes it easy to find something that fits almost any interest, schedule or availability. If you have interest in volunteering, you start by attending a Volunteer Orientation for a role that works for you. You can sign up here or give us your contact information and we’ll have someone contact you. We also rely on community funding to support our operations and services, as well as new, innovative initiatives that meet emerging needs. We welcome monthly commitments, contributions made online or by check, stock transfers, and bequests. Additionally, our My First Home service relies on in-kind donations from the community, including gently used furniture and household supplies.

What are Just in Time’s funding sources?

Individual donations, foundations, corporations, civic/faith organizations, and our annual Walk the Talk celebration and fundraiser in March. The only government funding we receive (about 3%) is from the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.

What is your budget?

Our current budget is approximately $6 million. The percentage that goes directly toward Youth Services is 74%, which does not reflect the significant amount of assistance and distributions made directly from volunteers to youth once connections are established.

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Co-authored by Just in Time staff with lived experience, this book is sparking the nationwide conversation around a new, youth-led mental model for young people leaving foster care.



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