Changes support educational equity and successful transitions to adulthood for state’s most vulnerable population Treehouse, a Seattle based nonprofit which gives youth in foster care a childhood and a future, advocated for numerous child welfare and education issues during the latest Washington State Legislative Session, and is proud to spotlight three key policy wins.
“This was a tremendously impactful legislative session for the 9,000 children and youth in foster care statewide,” said Dawn Rains, Chief Policy and Strategy Officer at Treehouse. “Because of critical law changes and key investments, foster and homeless youth will have a better chance to achieve educational equity and make successful transitions to adulthood.”
Right now, fewer than 3 percent of youth in foster care earn a four-year college degree. And it’s even worse for children and youth of color who are disproportionately represented in foster care and achieve educational outcomes at significantly lower rates than their white peers.
Here are the three biggest wins for 2018:
Education Equity (included in the final budget bill, and originally SB 6223 and HB 2877): A group of six state agencies and several nonprofit organizations will work to align programs, accountability, policy and resources culminating in a report due to legislatures in December of this year. The report will include a plan for children and youth experiencing foster care and homelessness to achieve educational equity with peers while closing the gap between racial and ethnic groups.
Extended Foster Care (SB 6222 and HB 2330): The age eligibility to enroll in the program will change from 19 to 21, and youth will be able to enroll and exit out of the program as many times as they need. Extended Foster Care provides critical stability to youth transitioning from foster care into adulthood.
Passport to Careers (SB 6274): Through the collective efforts of Treehouse, College Success Foundation and Mockingbird Society, the program will include financial assistance for apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships prompting a name change to “Passport to Careers.” Under this new legislation, eligibility will incorporate ICPC youth, youth in federal and tribal foster care systems and unaccompanied homeless youth. The Passport to College Promise program was originally created to help students from foster care attend and succeed in college.
Treehouse has led or collaborated on landmark legislation to support the educational attainment and well-being of youth in foster care since 2001.
To advocate for youth in foster care: Join Treehouse’s Advocacy Action Center at www.treehouseforkids.org/
Founded in 1988, Treehouse is Washington’s leading nonprofit organization addressing the academic and other essential support needs of youth in foster care. More than 7,500 youth each year prosper through programs that focus on their academic success, fulfill key material needs and provide important childhood experiences every child deserves. Learn more at www.treehouseforkids.org.