Treehouse Foundation Gets $100K to Plan New Site

October 30, 2018 — The Treehouse Foundation, an Easthampton-based nonprofit that promotes an intergenerational approach to foster care, recently announced it received a $100,000 planning grant from the state to support expansion to eastern Massachusetts.

Treehouse Foundation said the grant will allow it "to solidify partnerships, funding, and project management strategies; work with replication experts to establish needed systems and infrastructure, and secure a site for the next Treehouse Community."

Treehouse MetroWest will be a partnership with Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly (JCHE), a non-sectarian affordable housing nonprofit, and a nationally known innovative social service agency, Plummer Youth Promise.

The intergenerational Treehouse Community is a planned neighborhood where families adopting children from foster care and older adults live and invest daily in each other’s lives and wellbeing.

Beth Spong, chief operations officer of Treehouse, said an offer has been made on a site in Framingham. If it is accepted, ground could be broken in the spring for a new structure, to be built through affordable housing and other tax credits, with the full community up and running 12 to 18 months later.

Discussions to expand began several years ago partly in response to requests from legislators on how Treehouse can bring its model to metropolitan Boston.

Opened in Easthampton in 2006, Treehouse is home to more than 120 people, ages 1 to 90- years, and seniors serve as honorary grandparents. Families adopting children from foster care receive robust wraparound supports from caring elders and Treehouse staff.

In Easthampton, Treehouse partners with, Beacon Communities, a developer of affordable housing, and, Berkshire Children and Families, a social service agency.

Treehouse has received numerous state and national awards for its work with children and youth who have experienced foster care. However, there are many more children, youth, and families needing support, and many more older adults seeking this engaged community living, than Treehouse can serve in Easthampton.

In Massachusetts, more than 10,000 children and youth are in the foster care system. According to Treehouse, the raging opioid crisis is rapidly adding to this number, as children whose parents struggle with addiction enter foster care.

According to Treehouse, a child in foster care has experienced early trauma, neglect and abuse, and typically moves from home to home to home, living under a cloud of uncertainty, and has difficulty building close relationships. The nonprofit’s work provides robust supports to parents becoming “forever family” for these children and young people.

It notes that senior citizens often have challenges of their own. Last summer AARP released a report identifying social isolation as the most significant risk factor for mental and physical health among older adults. It’s very common for single elders to struggle with loneliness and the loss of a clear sense of purpose, meaning, and value in our society.

By bringing these two groups together in one community Treehouse has forged solutions that have for families adopting children from foster care and older adults.

Treehouse was founded in 2002 by Judy Cockerton, a foster/adoptive parent, educator, and social entrepreneur she saw the tremendous need for new approaches to support the success of some of the most vulnerable children.

For the year ending June 20, 2017, Treehouse Foundation reported $327,000 in revenue, of which $319,000 came from contributions and grants, and $377,000 in expenses, according to its most recently available federal tax filing.