Treehouse Celebrates Remarkable State Investments for Youth in Foster Care, Expands Statewide

SEATTLEMay 10, 2021 — The Washington State Legislature notably adopted key policies during the 2021 legislative session to better support youth experiencing foster care, including an increase in critical educational investments through Treehouse to support high school students statewide.

The nonprofit has become Washington’s leading organization addressing the academic and other essential supports of more than 7,800 youth in foster care statewide. Since its inception in 2013, Treehouse’s groundbreaking youth-centered academic program, Graduation Success, has dramatically increased graduation rates throughout the state.

“This investment is the culmination of a dream we launched a decade ago,” said Dawn Rains, Treehouse Chief Policy and Strategy Officer. “It’s one critical step toward supporting those students who are furthest from educational equity.”

With this year’s legislative session focused on addressing the many impacts of the pandemic and improving equity, Treehouse is thrilled to share the following wins for youth experiencing foster care:

Treehouse will receive $4.89 million to expand Graduation Success statewide. This funding will bring the program to the remaining 600 high school students statewide by 2023. In addition to increased state funding, this expansion requires Treehouse to raise an additional $1 million in private contributions. The legislature also preserved current state investments in other Treehouse programs.

Establish school building points of contact in every K-12 public school. Senate Bill 5184 requires each school building to clearly establish a point of contact for every youth in foster care to coordinate services and resources.

Provide financial support to relative caregivers. While 45 percent of youth in foster care are placed with relatives, their caregivers were ineligible to receive financial support and services without becoming licensed. Senate Bill 5151 modifies licensing requirements to improve relatives’ access to licenses and the related foster care stipends

Create community transition services for youth exiting juvenile rehabilitation. Approximately 40 percent of youth in juvenile rehabilitation facilities have experienced foster care and many meet criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder. The legislature made significant investments in community facility staffing and essential behavioral therapy and substance use treatment for incarcerated youth. House Bill 1186 provides therapeutic community transition services to improve reentry outcomes in education, employment and behavioral health. House Bill 1295 increases education access to youth in and released from juvenile rehabilitation facilities.

To learn more about the policies and investments made in the 2021 Washington state legislative sessions, watch our 2021 legislative session debrief: Wins for Washington Youth in Foster Care on YouTube.

About Treehouse
Founded in 1988 by social workers, Treehouse is Washington’s leading nonprofit organization addressing the academic and other essential support needs of more than 7,800 youth in foster care. We’re committed to youth in care statewide achieving a degree or other career credential, living wage job and stable housing at the same rate as their peers. With fierce optimism, we fight the structural inequities that impact all of us. Learn more at treehouseforkids.org.

Media Contact
Desiree Lindsay
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