Legislators Pass Statewide Education Strategy for Foster Youth

By Janis Avery, Treehouse CEO

For more than a decade Treehouse has led or collaborated on legislation to support the educational attainment and well-being of youth in foster care. We are so grateful for our legislative champions, community collaborators and supporters for partnering with us to ensure that youth in foster care have access to the opportunities and resources they need to reach their full potential in life.

As you may recall, last year the Washington State Legislature provided state funding for the expansion of our academic support program, Graduation Success, to two additional high census communities in Washington State in fall 2016. This year, Treehouse took another critical step toward improved educational outcomes of youth in foster care by once again collaborating with legislators and state and private agencies on HB1999, the Coordinated Educational Services for Youth in Foster Care Act.

I am thrilled to share that thanks to the hard work of our legislative champions and community advocates HB1999 passed in the House and the Senate! This landmark legislation will pave the path for Washington to implement a statewide education strategy, authorizing limited student information sharing, and uniting state and private agency support programs, including the Treehouse Graduation Success and Educational Advocacy programs, to increase program efficiency and effectiveness. New outcome driven contracts for all programs will ensure that investments are spent wisely. By better aligning state and private agency resources, we can ensure that K-12 and post-secondary success is attainable for youth in foster care, and lay the foundation for Washington State to lead the nation in high school completion, post-secondary enrollment and completion for youth in foster care.

For those of you joining us on March 30th for the Champions for Foster Kids Luncheon, you will see HB1999 signed into law by Governor Inslee himself! Thank you for being a voice for kids in foster care.

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About the Author

Janis Avery has led Treehouse since 1995. As CEO, Janis devotes her time to promoting educational equity for youth in foster care through advocacy for systems change, ensuring integrated strategy and accountability, maximizing community collaboration, and resource development. Janis has dedicated her life to improving the circumstances of children in foster care, both in her professional capacity as a social worker and in her own home, as the parent of two children adopted from foster care.

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