35 Years of Treehouse

Treehouse turns 35 this year — powered by our incredible community of youth, caregivers, staff, volunteers, supporters and partners.

Our journey began when a group of social workers noticed that children in foster care were missing things other kids had — birthday presents, school supplies and field trips. The social workers started raising funds through book sales to purchase everyday needs to help the children feel loved and capable.

From that original Little Wishes program, Treehouse has expanded over the years, committed to helping youth in foster care find a better path. We added a free store and distributed holiday gifts and financial assistance. We developed new education programs, realizing that educational and racial disparities needed to be addressed to change outcomes and ambitiously set our sights on a high school completion rate matching their peers.

We became involved in policy work when we saw that systemic barriers were stacking the odds against youth in foster care. And we aimed to expand all our services statewide when we learned that our footprint needed to grow to better support youth long-term as they moved from home to home, school to school.

While we have grown and evolved, the needs of youth in foster care have remained at our core. We have learned a lot about what it takes to be in their corner, and we are more committed than ever to centering their voice, choice and experience to shape their own journeys and ours.

The best part? We are just getting started as game-changers for youth in foster care as they reach for their dreams.

Since the beginning,
our mission has centered on youth in foster care.

What's Your Story?

We want to hear from you as we reflect on Treehouse’s history, present and future. Help us celebrate our milestone by sharing your Treehouse story and dreams for youth in foster care.

Share Your Story

We are building on 35 years of commitment and experience working with young people.

Let’s start at the beginning.

The Early Years


Treehouse is started as The Children’s Fund by a group of state social workers who held bake sales and car washes to raise money for things like birthday presents and field trips for kids experiencing foster care.


Little Wishes (now known as Just-in-Time Funding) is established, providing birthday presents, haircuts, afterschool lessons and extracurricular activities.


The Children’s Fund is officially renamed Treehouse.


The Wearhouse (now known as the Treehouse Store) is opened as a mail-order service to provide free essentials, such as clothing, school supplies, books and toys.


The Wearhouse opens a storefront.

The 2000s


Treehouse develops Educational Advocacy, pioneering a new approach to provide timely, appropriate educational supports and interventions tailored to each student’s academic and developmental needs.


Educational Advocacy expands throughout Washington state.


Holiday Magic partnership begins distributing holiday gifts statewide to youth in foster care.

The 2010s


Treehouse launches Graduation Success with an ambitious goal to address the alarmingly high dropout rate among youth in foster care. The program pairs high school youth in foster care with a Treehouse Education Specialist who provides educational support and a connection to resources. Education Specialists also partner with the youth’s existing support system — caregivers, social workers, teachers and school counselors — to provide services they need when they need them. The program starts in King County and gradually expands to select regions in Washington state over the next decade.


Treehouse adds policy and advocacy staff to address systemic barriers facing youth in foster care and co-leads Project Education Impact.


Our Driver’s Assistance program is established. It provides automobile insurance and driver’s education at no charge to youth across Washington and covers the cost of permits and driver’s licenses.


Treehouse announces a major expansion of our services with Launch Success. The program supports youth who have experienced foster care beyond high school as they work to transition into independence.

The 2020s


The Treehouse Store starts shipping clothing, supplies and other essentials across the state directly to youth in our Graduation Success and Launch Success programs.


Treehouse introduces two new programs focused on supporting Tribal youth and youth who have experienced incarceration. The Tribal Engagement Program supports Tribal youth with culturally competent educational coaching, opportunities and the development of self-advocacy skills. The Dual-System Involved Youth Program provides access to basic and special education, transition planning and post-secondary opportunities for youth who have experienced both foster care and incarceration.


Graduation Success, Just-in-Time Funding and the Treehouse Store join Driver’s Assistance, Educational Advocacy and Holiday Magic as statewide programs for Washington youth experiencing foster care.

Join Us in Celebrating 35 Years of Treehouse!

What’s Your Treehouse Story?

Throughout this year, we will be sharing stories from our Treehouse community, and your story could be featured on our social media, website and other platforms. Help us celebrate our milestone by sharing your Treehouse story and dreams for youth in foster care.

Share Your Story >

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