Young Adults Author Their Own Story in Launch Success


Over 400 young adults exit the foster care system in Washington state each year.

While Treehouse has been successful in supporting youth in foster care through high school graduation, we recognize that a high school credential does not guarantee future success. Youth who have experienced foster care often don’t have adequate safety nets or a support network to help them navigate the difficult transition to an independent adulthood.

Prior to 2018, youth exited Treehouse programs within 6 months of high school completion, including from our Graduation Success program which pairs youth in foster care with an Education Specialist for educational support and coaching.

In 2016, we surveyed our alumni, and the response was clear — they wanted and needed Treehouse to stay with them longer.

In response, Treehouse developed and piloted the Launch Success program in 2018, thanks to the support of corporate partners like Symetra, a national provider of life insurance, annuities and employee benefits headquartered in Bellevue, Wash. We were awarded a multi-year grant through the Symetra Empowers program, which seeks to build robust community support systems that empower BIPOC women and youth.

“Establishing safety nets for those who face higher socioeconomic challenges — such as youth in foster care — has been critical during the last few years. Symetra is thrilled to be part of Treehouse’s work.”

Sharmila Swenson, vice president, Public Affairs and Social Impact

Launch Success was implemented as a continuation of Graduation Success, utilizing Coaches who partner with alumni as they work toward stable housing, employment, a post-high school credential and life skills needed for navigating adulthood.

As we built the program, we learned that young adults in this age group needed a different approach from Graduation Success. Individuals who were on track with their goals might need only occasional resource support or brief interventions, while youth in crisis may have urgent basic needs and require ongoing and intensive support or assistance navigating complex systems of public support.

The program model shifted to one that focuses on the developmental stages and common life skill needs in early adulthood, while being rooted in providing the services that young adults told us they need. It is participant-centered, providing tailored support that uses well-researched tools. It is structured that way so when participants leave the program, they are better equipped to build a life of their choosing.

Since 2018, almost 700 young adults have received coaching or funding support through the program. When working with participants, the Launch Success Coaches have focused mainly on providing support or skill-building with participants and partnering with them to set goals. Acquiring and maintaining access to basic needs is a major focus for many of the interventions Coaches provide as well as with education and career paths.

“Launch Success helps participants navigate a world where they can make their own decisions and be supported in authoring their own story, where their autonomy is respected and invited in every interaction,” said Yvonne-Monique Aviva, Young Adult Services Program Director.

Participants are encouraged to determine the mode and frequency of communication, select who they will work with. The aim is to honor what they want to focus on and support them as they acquire the knowledge and skills needed for independence.

“We believe that we are creating a powerful model that demonstrates what is possible when young people transitioning from foster care have adequate resource support, healthy relationships they can count on and thoughtful, trauma-informed, healing-centered interventions that are co-designed with those with lived experience in foster care,” Yvonne-Monique said.

To learn more about Launch Success, visit treehouseforkids.org.

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