SEATTLE,– Treehouse is responding to the challenges of COVID-19 as impact is felt by children and youth in foster care. That includes funding immediate needs—such as rent assistance—shifting to connect with youth using remote strategies because of school closures and working with schools to meet emerging education needs.
“Everything is changing day to day, and the first place youth in foster care are going is Treehouse. We’re anticipating both new and continuing requests from youth who were already at higher risk from a socioeconomic standpoint,” said Angela Griffin, Chief Program Officer at Treehouse. “The most frequent ask right now is for financial assistance as hours are cut and jobs lost. We’re also seeing demand for access and support with technology as many students prepare for online school.”
Treehouse is adapting its Just-in-Time Funding program, which typically focuses on education needs, extracurricular activities and summer camps, to provide immediate rent assistance, gift cards for food, cell phones and internet access. Laptops are becoming increasingly scarce and are being prioritized for seniors to complete their school work, stay in touch with their Treehouse Education Specialists and tutors, and remain on track for graduation.
“The Treehouse Store in King County is now closed in compliance with the statewide stay at home order,” Griffin said. “The safety of clients, staff and community is Treehouse’s first priority. Youth and caregivers should work through their Education Specialist, Launch Success Coach or Just-in-Time funding team to fill requests for clothing and other critical items.”
An increase in sudden placement changes for youth are expected as students and caregivers adapt to the rapidly changing situation, which will drive even more clothing, basic hygiene and technology requests. Treehouse continues to assess each situation and meet needs by working with youth as they navigate other community resources and apply for state aid including EBT and TANF.
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 www.treehouseforkids.org.