A New Year Message

By Janis Avery, Treehouse CEO

The beginning of the year is a time for celebration and reflection. At Treehouse, we have once again been blessed with one of the greatest gifts – the opportunity to help kids in foster care experience a real childhood and success in school. As I mentioned over the summer, 68% of the Treehouse Class of 2015 successfully graduated from high school, and more than 85% of our persistent fifth year seniors graduated or have a plan for completion. The Graduation Success program is making an impact! This past fall, our Education Specialists were busy continuing to help these youth on their path to success supporting their transition to colleges, trade schools or high school completion programs.

We applaud the monumental achievements made by Treehouse youth in 2015 – all of which our generous community helped make possible. I invite you to take a moment, watch the below year-end video, and join the celebration.

As we begin 2016, I am filled with optimism for the youth that we serve. As we persist in working towards our 2017 graduation equity goal for youth in foster care this school year, we are focusing on addressing systemic obstacles that have slowed or prevented the academic progress of some of our youth. We have learned that youth in South King County are struggling more than students in other districts and that their schools are often under resourced. In response, we have reduced the caseloads of many of our Education Specialists this year by 40% and Little Wishes funding support was significantly increased to ensure students have access to the resources that they need. We are also learning that the highly mobile nature of foster youth results in program support interruptions for 10% of our students as they move in and out of our service area. We’re tracking where these students end up to help inform our Washington State Legislature supported program expansion plans in the coming year. Treehouse remains a highly adaptive, learning organization that is fiercely committed to our students achieving their dreams for the future.

Thank you for your partnership with us on this journey and for all that you’ve done and that you will do to ensure that youth in foster care have the opportunity to reach their full potential. I hope that you had a wonderful holiday season and I look forward to the opportunities of 2016.

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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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