More On My Plate Is Blooming Again
I have been on hiatus here at More on My Plate since the pandemic started. I’ve actually continued to write, as that is an important part of my daily life. However… ‘Stay-At-Home’ with 7 kids twenty-four hours a day for the pandemic made me pretty quickly set some priorities for my time; keeping up with the logistics of the More On My Plate website required more time and energy than my days could manage.
Here I am, though, ready to move forward in the coming days and weeks to share what our year was like, to give more pieces of our journey, and to inspire you to contribute to the work of foster care and adoption. We cannot all foster or adopt children, but we all can Foster Care… by learning more, by supporting a local foster family with your time and your love, and by contributing to people and organizations that are caring for kids in foster care (and the families who care for kids).
May is National Foster Care Month
Since it’s National Foster Care Month, I am very excited to invite you to learn about an organization here in the Pacific Northwest that has been a solid resource and gift for all of my kids and for our family for many years. We were honored to be asked if we would share some of our thoughts and memories about Treehouse for their Champions fundraising campaign this spring. Of course we said YES!
I’ll let Treehouse’s words describe their work and then share the video clip that they did with us. It was an exciting day as their film crew was here for an entire day (and brought us pizza). After a year of social isolation, having time to interact with others and to show off a bit was so much fun! And I hear that our stories helped Treehouse raise funds for their programming. Win-win!
“Treehouse provides academic and other essential services to over 7,800 youth in foster care across the State of Washington. Their mission is to create “a world where every child who has experienced foster care has the opportunities and support they need to pursue their dreams and launch successfully into adulthood.”
Founded in 1988 by a group of social workers and community fundraisers, Treehouse has grown to become a nationally recognized organization on the topic of foster care. They are working towards another major goal: By 2027, 90% of youth who have experienced foster care in Washington state will complete high school and successfully transition to independence.
Youth in foster care must overcome many barriers in order to reach graduation and succeed in adult life. Finding a place to live can be challenging. In Washington, there is a shortage of licensed foster homes, leaving many youth to be put up in hotel rooms or offices. More than one in three former foster youth will experience homelessness by 26.
Furthermore, children of color are overrepresented in the foster system, as these populations are more likely to be removed from their homes and to not leave the foster care system. The stress of foster care also leads 80% of youth in foster care to struggle with significant mental health concerns. Visit Treehouse’s Foster Care Facts page to learn more about these issues and sources for this data.
To help with these different concerns, Treehouse has developed many programs to make sure youth experiencing foster care have the resources they need across all areas of life. Their Graduation Success and Educational Advocacy programs focus on academic services. In the Launch Success program, Treehouse’s staff work with young adults as they work towards a degree, stable housing and a living wage.
Because financial stressors can also be high for caregivers and families, Treehouse provides Just-in-Time Funding for school and extracurricular fees and Driver’s Assistance for licenses, driver’s education and car insurance. They also encourage youth and families to visit the Treehouse Store, where they can shop for clothing, shoes, school supplies, toys, books, free tickets to events and other essentials for free.
What can we do to support youth in care during National Foster Care Month? Treehouse has many ways to get involved. Help spread the news by following them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn and sharing their posts. Purchase items on their wish list so Treehouse staff can ensure youth and caregivers have all the essentials. You can also rally your network to support Treehouse by hosting an online donation drive.”
That is such a short little article and it does not fully convey the huge impact that Treehouse has had for all of the kids that I have fostered. We have taken advantage of nearly every aspect of their programs and every child I’ve ever fostered has grown through time with me and the opportunities and gifts they received from Treehouse. I’d like to add that, if any of my readers live in the Seattle, WA area, they can also become involved by volunteering in some capacity directly with Treehouse. We’ve gotten to be on that side of the table, too, with Treehouse and it’s always fun and rewarding. Our favorite so far? Helping to sell programs at a Seahawks football home game as a fundraiser!!!! (Go Hawks!)
Click here to watch the video that our family contributed to the Treehouse Champions Fundraiser.
Foster parenting is not for the faint of heart, but with a community that steps up in ways, big and small, the journey is easier and a lot more fun. I’d encourage you to become a part of foster caring in whatever capacity you have in you. Every single thing you do within the fostering community helps a child who deserves to have a childhood and hope for their future.