Community Conversation: Addressing Pierce County’s Needs Together

By Dawn Rains, Treehouse Chief Operating Officer

On February 8th, Treehouse was thrilled to join our colleagues from Amara and members of the greater Pierce County community for a lively conversation about foster care.

In recent months, Treehouse and Amara have both expanded our services in Pierce County. Amara opened their second Emergency Sanctuary in downtown Tacoma while Treehouse began providing our evidence-based Graduation Success program in all of the high schools in Tacoma Public Schools. I was inspired to see nearly 100 community leaders, advocates, partners, volunteers, and foster parents come together at this event to express their desire to learn more about our collective work. The display of community support was both welcoming and encouraging.

Treehouse’s Tacoma Graduation Success team: Bradley Loetzke, Erica Chang, Skylar Cole, and Rodney Robinson

Treehouse CEO Janis Avery and Amara Executive Director John Morse kicked off the evening by introducing a panel of experienced foster care professionals and volunteers from Treehouse and Amara. Bradley Loetzke and Rodney Robinson from Treehouse’s Graduation Success program, Hieu Dang from DSHS Children’s Administration, Amara Sanctuary Director Maureen Sorenson, and foster parents and Amara volunteers Joel and Miriam Norman, all shared personal stories about the challenges they see children and youth in foster care facing every day. While each panelist came from a unique perspective, all agreed there is tremendous opportunity and need for agencies, organizations, and community members to partner together to better support youth in care in Pierce County.

I was also impressed to see the level of engagement and motivation coming from the audience. Meaningful connections were made and great questions were asked. In the end, a robust list of needs and potential solutions were identified. In particular, there were passionate calls for more foster parents and more CASAs (Court Appointed Special Advocates) to meet the needs of our children. It was an inspiring evening for me personally and I look forward to continuing this essential conversation with our neighbors and partners in the South Sound. Together, we will make sure that children and youth in foster care have access to the services and support systems they need to thrive in childhood, at school, and in life.

Are you a member of the greater Pierce County community? Here’s how you can join our mission and get involved:


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About the Author

As Chief Operating Officer of Treehouse, Dawn Rains serves as the strategic and operational leader for Treehouse Programs and Policy. Dawn has more than 20 years of experience in nonprofit management and fund development and is also a former foster parent.

Comment (1)

Paul Kuhn

May 17, 2017

Yesterday, Annie Huffman and Danielle came to the North Tacoma Rotary Club and presented information about Treehouse for Kids in the Tacoma School District. Their short presentation was helpful in becoming aware of “foster” kids in our community attending school and preparing for college and university.

Our Rotary Club focuses on children and youth in our community, and in the broad programs of Rotary International. Being aware of Treehouse enables us to support your program and others in our community.

Please thank them for us and for all the good work they are doing on behalf of all the students in our community. We look forward to supporting and participating with you in service to children and youth in our community.

Thank you.

Paul Kuhn, president-elect, Tacoma North Rotary


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