Treehouse, Washington state’s leading nonprofit for youth experiencing foster care, has announced a statewide expansion of its programs.
Effective April 3, school-aged youth in foster care across the state are eligible for all programs.
The change expands three programs: Graduation Success, Just-in-Time Funding and the Treehouse Store.
“What that means for Lewis County is that in addition to our education-based programming that has been available in the area on a limited basis since 2006, we will also be able to provide clothes, books, school supplies and other essentials through the Treehouse Store, as well as funding for such items as summer camp, hair care, tutoring, music lessons and more through Just-in-Time Funding,” said a Treehouse representative in an email to The Chronicle.
Three other programs — Driver’s Assistance, Educational Advocacy and Holiday Magic — were already available statewide, according to Treehouse.
Treehouse now accepts referrals from every corner of the state and is expanding into new communities and school districts, including along the Olympic Peninsula and in central Washington. The expansion is the result of many years of planning and relationship-building. It will help Treehouse more effectively support youth to complete high school with a plan for the future, according to the release.
“For the first time in Treehouse’s 35-year history, the ability to provide support to a youth in foster care isn’t dependent upon their zip code,” said Dawn Rains, CEO of Treehouse. “This ensures equitable access to our services across the state, especially in rural counties with fewer community resources. We have been working toward this moment for a long time.”
Through the three newly-expanded programs, youth in foster care anywhere in the state also have access to one-on-one academic coaching, financial support for extracurricular and school activities as well as free clothes and essentials, according to a news release. By aligning eligibility across these programs, Treehouse will be able to better meet the needs of youth regardless of their placement or how often they are moved, according to the release.
“The data shows that nearly 40% of youth in foster care in Washington state will experience three or more placement changes,” said Jess Lewis, chief impact officer at Treehouse. “And we know that every time a youth changes schools, they are in danger of losing about six months of educational progress. That is a lot of learning loss — even for a student that only changes school once in a school year. Our statewide expansion ensures that no matter where a youth is placed in the state, a Treehouse staff member will be by their side, centering their education and connecting them to community resources for long-term success.”
Treehouse is the only organization in Washington state focused on meeting the educational and other essential needs of youth experiencing foster care and the only organization of its kind in the nation to provide the comprehensive mix of integrated services at this scale, the release from the organization stated.
To be eligible for Treehouse programs, youth must have an open state, Tribal dependency or shelter care case within Washington state. Social workers, child health and education tracking screeners, school personnel or court-appointed special advocates can make referrals on the organization’s website at http://www.treehouseforkids.org/.