One of the organizations that is working hard for youth in foster care, and which Kalles Group has had the privilege of partnering with for the past four years, is Treehouse. Treehouse is a non-profit organization based in Seattle, Washington that provides “youth in foster care in the King County area access to the services they equally deserve to be successful in school and in life.” It is their mission to help them graduate from high school at the same rate as their peers with a plan for their future in order to launch successfully into adulthood.
Did you know that May is National Foster Care Month? Did you know that as of March 27 of this year, there were 8,890 youth in foster care throughout Washington state, led by King County with 1,499?These most under-resourced and vulnerable youth need us as a community to lean in with urgency to make sure their needs are met so they can achieve their goals.
Some of the simple things Treehouse provides are funding for after-school activities and summer camps. Treehouse also facilitates access to the experiences that make being a child so enjoyable, and offers a proactive, long-term, youth-centered academic program called Treehouse Graduation Success, designed to help youth in foster care engage and invest in their education and future.
In April of this year, Treehouse gathered with 1100 community members at the 16th annual Champions for Foster Kids luncheon to celebrate not only the success and perseverance of Treehouse youth, but the collective work done by volunteers, partners, donors, staff, and the community to achieve graduation equity. Students in the Treehouse Graduation Success program each bravely shared their stories of strength and resilience.
Angela Griffin, Associate Director of Treehouse Programs, shared some of Treehouse’s fantastic graduation results: The Treehouse Class of 2015 had an extended five-year graduation rate of 82 percent which is equal to the extended graduation rate of all students statewide, and 31 points better than the average for youth in foster care across the state.
At the end of the luncheon, they had even more to celebrate. More than $400,000 was given in the room that day, turning it into a record-breaking event. With the matching pool and sponsorship, over one million dollars was raised to help youth in foster care graduate high school better prepared for a brighter future.
As soon as a judge orders a child into foster care, that child becomes “our child.” Why are foster children our collective responsibility? Under-resourced parents, typically struggling to overcome extreme poverty, substance abuse, mental health challenges and domestic violence must attend to their own well-being. If we don’t step forward as a society to shoulder the remaining burden, these children continue to suffer from trauma and loss. Most never overcome these beginnings with high rates of homelessness, incarceration, mental illness and unplanned pregnancy which impacts us all as the cycle repeats.
To learn more about foster care and how you and your organization can take action to support Treehouse youth, visit www.treehouseforkids.org.