The Revolution Isn’t Over for Treehouse

By KD Hall, Special to Treehouse

Annual African American Conversation Discusses Issues of Homelessness
that Black Youth Often Face after Foster Care

The Annual African American Conversation 2020, sponsored by QueenCare Products, was a virtual event held on Oct. 29. Three panelists gathered to share their experiences and expertise on the foster care system for an enthusiastic audience of 60.

The participants spoke of systemic discrimination and the impact of COVID-19 on Black youth in foster care. Seattle has one of the highest rates of homelessness in the country, and a substantial portion of these individuals are youth who recently aged out of foster care.

“Programs provided in the foster care system empower our youth, and we as the community must advocate for these youth and make a place at the table where these issues can be discussed with a sense of hope and innovation,” said T’Wina Nobles, President and CEO of the Tacoma Urban League.

Karena Hooks, a Racial Equity Consultant and Facilitator, spoke on barriers to creating this space.

“There are many issues to tackle around race, with one of them being the acknowledgment of wrongdoing in order to correctly assess and fix the problems we know exist,” Hooks said.

Panelist Rodney Robinson, a Treehouse Regional Director, added: “Some of this discord is due to the lack of representation for African American youth experiencing foster care.”

The panelists discussed startling statistics from a poll conducted by FosterClub, which surveyed 613 respondents between the ages of 18 and 24:

  • By May, nearly 65% of transition-age youth from foster care who were working before the pandemic had lost employment. Half of those who applied for unemployment benefits had yet to receive it.
  • 23% reported they are being forced to move or fear being forced to leave their current living situation. Many young people indicated that their housing was tied to their schooling, and worried where they will go if school does not reopen in the fall.
  • Nearly one in five young people—or 19% of those questioned—reported they have run out of food.

The panelists encouraged the community to take action by voting, hosting a holiday drive and volunteering at the Treehouse Store.

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About the Author

KD co-founded her communications firm KD Hall Communications, LLC, in 2015 and has since been incredibly impactful across corporate and government sectors. She is the epitome of a communications guru from networking, external relations, crisis manager, problem solver genius and an adjunct faculty member at the University of Washington. She is a professional public speaker, and she is most proud of being a mentor to over 60 college students across the state of Washington for more than six years.

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