WGBH Interviews Judy Cockerton about Rebuilding Foster Care from the Ground Up
Our foster care system isn’t in great shape. Kids in the system are more likely to drop out of school, have higher rates of teen pregnancy, and are less likely to go to college. But, not in Treehouse Village.
Treehouse is a community of 60 houses: 40 of them for elders, and 20 of them for families with foster kids. Ninety-nine percent of their kids have graduated from high school. And 100 percent of their graduates have gone on to either college or vocational school.
WGBH traveled to Treehouse Village to learn how one woman rebuilt foster care from the ground up.
The Big Picture
Treehouse is a multi-generational community where seniors are vital to the support system that enables parents to succeed and the children to thrive.
This series of photographs gives us a glimpse into the lives of some of the residents over the past year.
Featured in the Boston Globe
Our pioneering social project called the Treehouse community is a 60-home village built from scratch nearly a decade ago in a broad former meadow near Mount Tom. The Treehouse Community was founded to support families that take in foster children in the hopes of stopping the bounce through the system. Now approaching its tenth year, the numbers reflect a success story and defy statistics on foster children.
It’s an uncommon place, where once-traumatized children are raised in a quiet neighborhood where the special needs of foster and adoptive families are supported and understood. It’s also a place where dozens of elderly residents have moved specifically to help these families in simple but critical ways — by walking children to school, by baby-sitting to give stressed parents a break — and to savor the simple pleasures of joining a community where their help and life experience are appreciated.
Fostering a Community
In this Easthampton village, everyone helps the children.
The Treehouse Foundation is a non-profit organization that aims to restore and strengthen the health and well-being of children and youth placed in foster care. Our Community model aims to move children out of the public foster care system and into permanent, loving families. Our movement is helping people across the country have the courage to face the fact that we need to Re-Envision Foster Care in America. Learn more
Our Easthampton Community is a geographically contained, multigenerational, planned neighborhood where adoptive families, their children and elders invest in one another's lives. It is a village where children find not just parents and a home, but also grandparents, playmates and an entire neighborhood designed to help them grow up in a secure and nurturing environment. Learn more
One evening in the fall of 1998, Judy Cockerton’s husband handed her an article in the Boston Herald and said, “I thought you might be interested in reading this.” It was a story about a five-month-old boy in foster care who was kidnapped from his crib. This story was a catalyst, a moment of inspiration for Judy - a business woman, former teacher and mother of two. Learn more
Today in America, nearly a half-million children experience foster care. One third of these children will never return home, nor will they be adopted. Instead, they will spend their childhoods in foster care and at the age of 18 launch out into the world alone and unprepared for life.
Treehouse is a vibrant community in which our knowledge about what children need for healthy futures is applied every day. Treehouse programs are exciting, bold, and transformative. ~ Harold D. Grotevant, Ph.D., UMASS