03.19.2014

Treehouse Provides Normalcy for Kids in the State’s Care

By Sophie Keefe-Bullock, Social Worker & Treehouse Partner

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For the last three years, I have been a social worker for the state, working with kids from  2 months through 19 years of age.  Talking about Treehouse services, referring to Treehouse and working with their staff has very literally become a daily part of my work. All of my kids make use of the Wearhouse which provides them with necessary clothes, toys and school supplies. Within the last several months I’ve had caregivers access Little Wishes for sports fees, a football uniform, teen-mom camp, and of course haircuts! All four of the high school youth on my caseload have a different Treehouse Education Specialist working with them at school to keep them on track towards graduation.

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I am currently work with a female student who is a senior at a local high school. The student is enrolled in extended foster care and is living in YMCA transitional housing. She is 19 and struggling as many of us did taking our first steps into adulthood. She is learning to balance her social life with school commitments, and now realizes that no one is going to wake her up in the morning or make her go to bed on time. This youth is learning how to prioritize and self-motivate. No easy task! Fortunately the youth was assigned to Treehouse Educational Specialist Lexa Galanti. Lexa has been a huge support to this youth throughout a rocky time in her life. She keeps up with the youth’s attendance and grades, attends meetings, talks with teachers, and follows up on the youth’s important assignments and projects. Lexa is always available to check in with me and helps keep me up to date with important goings-on at school. The school years get underway and before I can even turn around Lexa has helped this youth to order school pictures, a yearbook and reserve a cap and gown. Throughout the last four year this student has required Treehouse assistance with covering fees for the cross-country and track team, new running shoes, and haircuts. Lexa helps this student with goal setting, daily schedule management, has kept track of the youth’s progress on her senior project and other assignments. She does it all with an air of non-judgment and a strengths-based approach. Lexa’s availability and consistent engagement with this youth has provided a much needed helping hand (for the youth and for me)!

I see that Education Specialists provide normalcy for youth in foster care. They step in to provide a voice, a presence, a checkbook (someone to make sure the youth gets a good senior picture), so that the youth doesn’t have to worry about the little stuff. How do I get money for a yearbook? How do I make a plan to get caught up in history class? Who is going to help me print pictures for my senior project? It’s the kind of inherent support that comes from being a member of a functional family or support network that many of our dependent youth are lacking. It’s absolutely invaluable.

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About the Author

As a dedicated Social  Worker at the Washington Department of Children’s Administration for more than three years, Sophie Keefe-Bullock, MSW, is dedicated to ensuring the safety, permanence and well-being of our community’s youth in foster care.  She partners with Treehouse to ensure that the foster youth on her caseload have access to the essentials, including material goods, funding for extra-curricular activities, and academic support to help them succeed in school.


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