Evolving Launch Success Program Retains Focus: Partnering with Young Adults on Goals, Narrowing Resource Gap

By Desiree Lindsay, Treehouse Marketing & Communications

Our surveys showed young adults wanted more support from Treehouse after high school, so we started Launch Success in the fall of 2018. The program continues to evolve, especially during the pandemic. Still the original intent remains the same: Partner with participants well into their 20s as they work toward a degree or other credential, living wage and stable housing.

“All too often, youth impacted by foster care face additional instability simply because they’ve turned 18,” said Claire Smith, a Launch Success Coach who has 48 young adults on her caseload. “Launch Success narrows the resource gap for participants who have completed their high school diploma or GED as they pursue personal and professional goals that they set for themselves.”

Maintaining Housing and Academic Stability

A 2019 study found that only 17% of young adults in Washington who’ve aged out of foster care are able to remain in their current housing. Unfortunately, the consequences of the pandemic have exacerbated the foster-care-to-homeless pipeline and left many youth scrambling to make emergency adjustments.

“It’s difficult watching our youth go through this. Some of them have worked so hard to maintain academic progress and personal growth, and they still face unfair effects amidst the pandemic compared to many of their peers,” Claire said.

One participant, Lillie, had signed a short-term lease prior to the COVID-19 crisis after being accepted into a unique program at St. John’s in Santa Fe, New Mexico. They planned to move during the fall into the dorms on campus for their first year of college. St. John’s suspended in-person classes and shut down on-campus dorms, effectively rendering Lillie’s plans postponed. Claire worked with Lillie to find alternative housing and a post-pandemic educational plan.

Shawntel, another Launch Success participant, dealt with similar challenges. Facing unexpected personal challenges on top of the onset of the pandemic, her grades suffered, putting her at risk of losing her housing in the on-campus dorms of her school. Together, Shawntel and Claire worked to make academic appeals to maintain financial aid funding, create an educational plan that would allow her to take a short break from school and obtain a new off-campus apartment and furniture.

After taking the time to reinstate a sense of stability and work on her self-care routine, Shawntel will be returning to full-time school after the holiday break while working in a new remote job.

“Claire always assists me with whatever I need, and we’ve worked on a lot of different things together,” Shawntel said. “Whatever resources Claire finds, she shares with me.”

Cooperation with Other Organizations Key

Christian Madruga, Launch Success Senior Program Manager, said the pandemic has amplified prominent and chronic obstacles such as stable housing and professional growth. Recognizing that cooperation across all available support services in the community—not just within Treehouse—Christian recently joined the leadership board of Passport to College. The program is designed to provide college scholarships and other support services for youth who were once dependents of the state.

“I’m excited to see the benefits of increased collaboration with other community service providers,” Christian said. “I think we’ll be able to better support and provide increased resources for the young adults we serve.”

Looking to the future of Launch Success, a critical aspect will be creating more collaborative partnerships with other organizations that share similar missions.

Join Treehouse as we partner with youth in foster care during the pandemic and beyond. Make a gift at treehouseforkids.org/donate.

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About the Author

Desiree Lindsay is the Marketing and Communications Consultant at Treehouse, where she elevates the voices and experiences of the youth we serve.

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