01.11.2021

Treehouse Announces Legislative Priorities for Youth in Foster Care

Requests emphasize need to maintain critical supports for youth as pandemic exacerbates inequity, mental health needs and disengagement from school

SEATTLE, Monday, January 11 Treehouse announced it will be asking the Washington State Legislature to preserve educational and adult-transitional investments for youth experiencing foster care as the pandemic enters its second year. The nonprofit organization partners with more than 7,800 youth in care statewide, providing access to childhood experiences and critical resources as they plan for the future.

“COVID-19 is a serious threat to this generation’s opportunities, and youth in foster care face the most serious obstacles,” said Dawn Rains, Treehouse Chief Policy and Strategy Officer. “It’s essential we preserve safeguards during these unprecedented times.”

Even prior to the pandemic, youth experiencing foster care fell behind their peers on every academic and stability measure, and the crisis has severely deepened these inequities.

Treehouse is advocating to:

  • Preserve and expand equitable education supports – Pandemic-related school closures and increased mental health needs have led to significant disengagement from school. Treehouse asks the legislature to protect funding for Graduation Success, Educational Advocacy, Early Childhood Education Assistance Program (ECEAP), and Passport to Careers and to increase funding by $2 million for 300 additional youth statewide to take part in Graduation Success. School building points of contact are also needed to coordinate services and resources for youth in foster care.
  • Preserve transition to independence funding – Alumni of foster care are more likely to live in poverty, require public assistance and experience homelessness and incarceration. Treehouse asks the legislature to protect funding for Extended Foster Care and implement more effective youth-centered transition planning, establishing a system of “step-down” support.
  • Disrupt the foster care to prison pipeline – Approximately 40% of youth in juvenile rehabilitation facilities have experienced foster care and many meet criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder. Treehouse asks the legislature to increase essential behavioral therapy and substance use treatment, as well as reentry and transitional aftercare support. Treehouse is also calling for expanded training for school resource officers and staff, and increased data collection related to student arrests
  • Provide financial support to relative caregivers – Without licensing, relative caregivers do not have access to the financial support and services that are provided to licensed foster families despite 45% of youth being placed with relatives. Treehouse asks the legislature to modify licensing requirements to improve relatives’ access to licenses and stipends.

Be a voice for youth in foster care: Visit www.treehouseforkids.org/advocate.

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
desiree.lindsay@treehouseforkids.org
206.767.7000

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