Nonprofit that helps kids in foster care expanding across western Washington

A non profit organization helping students in foster care here in Washington is ready to expand.

Treehouse will now be adding their graduation success program to five more counties across our area. The program has been operating in King County since it began in 1988.

“We’re adding Whatcom, Skagit, Benton, Franklin and Thurston counties, all communities that have a significant number of youth in foster care whose educational needs we will meet,” said Janis Avery, Treehouse CEO.

Treehouse sets up foster care students with one-on-one guidance from an educational specialist who helps them set goals for the future and address challenges along the way. They also provide students with clothes and other basic necessities.

“You have a mentor, friendship, and parental role all in one,” said Brianna Franco, a Treehouse student.

As the statistics show, the odds of succeeding can be stacked against students in foster care.

Less than 50 percent of children in foster care graduate from high school, and many of them are forced to move at least three times.

Through the Treehouse graduation success program, 82 percent of their students earn a high school diploma, and their latest expansion will bring their services to more students across the state.

“They’re beginning to think about when I’m 25, who am living with, where am I living, what kind of work am I doing,” said Janis Avery.

Brianna Franco has been a Treehouse student since the 9th grade. She is a high school graduate who is currently in college with a job, but without Treehouse, she says her life would be much different.

“I probably wouldn’t be in college,” said Franco.

Paris Traxler has been with Treehouse since she was 10 years old. Traxler is now in college, has studied abroad, and owns her own business.

“Even with me being in college, now they’re setting goals, like, what’s next?” Traxler said.

Recently, Traxler started her own culinary business, and says without Treehouse her dreams of becoming a chef would’ve never flourished.

With this expansion Treehouse now helps 1,300 foster care children and young adults across Washington. Their goal is to be able help foster care students across the state by the year 2022 before they end up choosing the wrong path.

“They get into trouble with the law, they might be young parents, or homeless needing basic needs,” said Janis Avery. “All of those things cost money, taxpayer dollars, philanthropic dollars instead of them being able to contribute the way they want to and can.”