Reflections on Weathering the Pandemic

By Lisa Chin, Treehouse CEO

Throughout the pandemic, we’ve been listening to our staff and youth with frequent surveys, which show disengagement from school is unfortunately high. Not surprisingly, the demand for resources among youth impacted by foster care is greater than ever with surging requests for food, clothing and even housing among our young adults living independently. There is definitely a strong correlation between having the basics covered and school success.

Enrichment supplies continue to be in tremendous demand. That includes workout equipment and other materials to keep youth both occupied and support their online coursework. Thanks to contributions from communities throughout the state, Treehouse has funded hundreds of thousands of dollars in technology and other critical supports since the beginning of the crisis.

With safety in mind, our staff at the Treehouse Store has started to ship clothing, supplies and other essentials statewide directly to youth in our Graduation Success and Launch Success programs. The store, always free for youth in care and their caregivers, previously relied exclusively on in-person visits. This is a big change for us, and it’s been one of the truly great innovations of these challenging times.

We’re partnering with organizations such as Building Changes to call attention to all of the work being done by them and other groups in an effort to access funds for youth experiencing foster care and/or homelessness as part of the CARES Act. Together we’re advocating for unspent funds already earmarked for young people to be directed toward supporting youth facing the greatest barriers to success.

One major area of concern during the pandemic has been youth aging out of extended foster care, which ends at 21. A young adult in our Launch Success program, Lillie, turns 21 next month. “I’m not ready,” Lillie said. “At this point, I’m supposed to be a full adult? If I could stay 20 for five or six years, that would be great.”

Lillie assumed all outside support ended with their birthday. They were thrilled to learn Treehouse will be there well into their 20s through Launch Success. We will support all 8,000-plus children, youth and young adults in our programs as challenges continue to emerge.

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

A visionary strategist and fundraiser, Lisa Chin has more than 20 years of experience in senior executive leadership with a proven ability to scale mission-focused organizations. She has spent her career focused on young people, education and equity-based systems change, providing opportunity to those who need it most.

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