Treehouse Survey Shows 26% of Youth in Foster Care Have Disengaged from School During Pandemic

Nonprofit identifies needs, connects youth and young adults with services and advocates for critical investments

SEATTLE – Treehouse data shows the reengagement crisis everyone in education is collectively facing this fall, and urges a coordinated response from government, school and the community.

“More than a quarter of the youth we serve in foster care—26 percent—have disengaged from school, and there are many other concerning trends,” said Lisa Chin, CEO of Treehouse. “Treehouse will monitor our youth to see if these needs persist, connect youth and young adults with additional services and partner with caregivers, social workers and schools to provide extra support during this time of disruption.”

The nonprofit, which works with youth in care statewide so they have a childhood and a future, has been tracking the educational impacts of COVID-19. Staff completed surveys in July about the emergent needs since March 15 of 1,126 youth on their caseloads. This is the third survey.

Other key findings:

  • 44% of foster and relative caregivers need more support in meeting the educational needs of youth in their homes.
  • 37% of students with disabilities (42% of youth in care) have not received special education services.
  • 25% of youth in care have lost academic progress as a result of the move to distance learning.
  • 22% have one or more unmet basic needs (housing, food, clothing, etc.).
  • 11% have experienced a placement change.
  • 10% have had IEP assessments and meetings delayed.
  • 5% have experienced a school change.

In response, Treehouse is working with the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to provide guidance and support to school districts. Treehouse also is ramping up to make sure caregivers and social workers have everything they need to navigate distance learning in the new school year.

The organization has been a leading voice advocating with Governor Jay Inslee on how to spend discretionary funding through the CARES Act to ensure Washington meets all basic and educational needs of children and youth in foster care.

Thanks to contributions from communities throughout the state, Treehouse has funded more than $800,000 in technology and other critical supports since the beginning of the pandemic.

Take Action
: Host a virtual back-to-school drive. Email [email protected] or visit treehouseforkids.org/bts. To make a financial gift, visit treehouseforkids.org/donate.

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 8,000 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 http://www.treehouseforkids.org

Media Contact:
Trent Freeman
Director, Marketing & Communications
[email protected]

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Comment (1)

Mary Sewell

August 21, 2020

Thank you for supporting others during this time of need.


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