26% of foster care students disengaging from school during COVID-19

Treehouse works to find ways to support youth

Nearly 26% of youth in foster care served by Seattle-based Treehouse have disengaged from school during COVID-19.

“More than a quarter of the youth we serve in foster care—26%—have disengaged from school, and there are many other concerning trends,” said Lisa Chin, CEO of Treehouse, in a Aug. 11 news release. “Treehouse will monitor our youth to see if these needs persist, connect youth and young adults with additional services and partner with caregivers, social workers and schools to provide extra support during this time of disruption.”

The nonprofit, which works with more than 8,000 youth in care statewide so they have a childhood and a future, has been tracking the educational impacts of COVID-19. Staff completed surveys in July about the emergent needs since March 15 of 1,126 youth on their caseloads. This is the third survey.

Other key findings:

• 44% of foster and relative caregivers need more support in meeting the educational needs of youth in their homes.

• 37% of students with disabilities (42% of youth in care) have not received special education services.

• 25% of youth in care have lost academic progress as a result of the move to distance learning.

• 22% have one or more unmet basic needs (housing, food, clothing, etc.).

• 11% have experienced a placement change.

• 10% have had IEP (Individualized Education Programs) assessments and meetings delayed.

• 5% have experienced a school change.

In response, Treehouse is working with the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to provide guidance and support to school districts. Treehouse also is ramping up to make sure caregivers and social workers have everything they need to navigate distance learning in the new school year.

The organization has been a leading voice advocating with Gov. Jay Inslee on how to spend discretionary funding through the CARES Act to ensure Washington meets all basic and educational needs of children and youth in foster care.

Thanks to contributions from communities throughout the state, Treehouse has funded more than $800,000 in technology and other critical supports since the beginning of the pandemic.


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