We did it—our legislative priorities passed!

By Treehouse Policy Team

Left: Daniel Lugo, Policy and Government Relations Manager, and Art Longworth, Policy Specialist for the Foster Care-to-Prison Pipeline. Top right: The Treehouse Policy team at the Washington Capital before the start of session. Bottom right: Daniel Lugo; Lynda Hall, Senior Director of Policy and Government Relations; Sarah Mazur, Financial Resources Program Manager; and Nicole Herron, Senior Director of Programs pose with Sen. Claire Wilson.

Washington state’s 105-day legislative session ended on April 23, and each of our legislative priorities passed!  Advocacy was challenging this year given the decline in forecasted state revenue, but your support made several wins happen for youth in foster care!

Every message sent to legislators highlighting the impact and urgency of our programs made a difference, so thank you for contacting your legislators on behalf of youth in foster care.

Our 2023 legislative victories:

$920,000 to maintain 4 Educational Advocates

During the pandemic, Treehouse received one-time funding to hire four additional positions in our Educational Advocacy program. These Educational Advocates helped Washington state meet the educational needs of highly-mobile youth experiencing night-to-night placements, along with eliminating our waitlist for the first time in a decade. Thanks to Representative Senn (41st LD), Washington state has committed public dollars to sustain these positions for the next two years.

$2.21 million to expand Graduation Success to middle school

Our Graduation Success program has supported high school-aged youth since 2012 with weekly education monitoring, coaching and goal setting to remove barriers to education. The state legislature has recognized the impact of the program and committed $2.21 million for Treehouse to partially expand the program to middle schools statewide. This will help prepare students to succeed in high school and bolster high school graduation rates. Thank you to Representative Senn (41st LD), Representative Stonier (49th LD) and Senator Wellman (41st LD) for championing our request.

Strengthening Project Education Impact

Project Education Impact (PEI) is a legislatively mandated workgroup that develops recommendations for the state to improve educational outcomes for students experiencing foster care, homelessness and now, thanks to the passage of HB 1679, institutional education. In addition, the bill brings needed data expertise from the state’s Education Research & Data Center to the table. The legislature also funded $150,000 to support PEI’s direct costs such as facilitation and compensation for lived experts who consult and partner with the workgroup. Thank you to Representative Rule (42nd LD) and Senator Hunt (22nd LD) for sponsoring this request as well as Senator Wilson (30th LD) for advancing HB 1679 out of committee.

Expanding Driver’s Assistance

Treehouse has offered financial assistance for youth in foster care to enroll in driver’s education and acquire their license since 2018. However, the full cost of driving has continued to be a barrier. Thanks to the leadership of Senator Liias (21st LD) and Representative Fey (27th LD), Washington state has authorized more expansive services through the program. Soon, Treehouse will begin covering the cost of car tab renewals, gas cards, comprehensive auto insurance, car maintenance, and more so that participants receive the support they need to drive legally and safely.

Again, thank you for your time and partnership. We could not achieve such an ambitious legislative agenda without your advocacy and attention.

We hope you’re as proud of these accomplishments as we are!

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About the Author

The Treehouse Policy team consists of (L-R): Fred Kingston, Director of Policy; Daniel Lugo, Manager of Policy and Government Relations; Arthur Longworth, Policy Specialist for the Foster Care-to-Prison Pipeline; Lynda Hall, Senior Director of Policy and Government Relations and Claire Smith, Youth-Adult Partnership Manager.

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