Why We Support Youth in the Launch to Adulthood

By Janis Avery, Treehouse CEO

Twenty four years ago, I interviewed to become the Executive Director at Treehouse. I’ve been reflecting about that experience as we approach National Foster Care Month in May.

Treehouse was small then, with only 10 staff, but they were doing incredible work. They were the only agency I knew of focused on supporting kids’ developmental needs and interests in life instead of simply trying to eliminate their problems.

Children and youth in foster care can be seen as a collection of problems to solve. Treehouse saw them as kids who deserved to have music lessons, play team sports and sing songs with new friends at camp.

Even back then, I knew I was destined to be at Treehouse. The only problem was I had zero experience leading an organization. It was an amazing blessing that they chose to see my potential. That’s the same thing we do with kids, teens and young adults. We see their promise and invest in their potential.

We recognize that a high school diploma is an absolutely critical step for youth in care. But, it’s not a destination, and it is not enough. That’s why our latest program innovation—Launch Success—is so important for youth to pursue their dreams and launch successfully into adulthood.

With Launch Success, we provide ongoing coaching and customized access to the resources each young adult needs well into their 20s. We ensure each participant builds a strong network of natural supports. We know that having a consistent, caring adult to celebrate accomplishments and problem-solve challenges makes all the difference.

As partners, we work toward career goals, so they keep moving forward beyond their first quarter of college or trade school, which is when many unfortunately stumble.

At Treehouse, we continue to focus on potential. We are here for young adults with continued support until they achieve what is absolutely critical for all young adults: earn a degree or career credential, land a living wage job and secure stable housing.

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About the Author

As Treehouse CEO, Janis Avery devotes her time to promoting educational equity for youth in foster care through advocacy for systems change, ensuring integrated strategy and accountability, maximizing community collaboration and resource development. Janis holds a Master of Social Work and Certificate in Human Services Management from the University of Washington. She is a former social worker and an adoptive parent of two children from foster care.

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