Judy Cockerton is the author of Out of the Foster Care Box. She is a social entrepreneur who is dedicated to fundamentally changing the way we care for children who experience foster care in America. Her visionary approach is simple and compelling. It requires common sense and humanity. It underscores the importance of taking care of our most vulnerable children – the children who live in our own neighborhoods and communities.
Her approach also calls for the creation of a re-designed national Menu of Engagement Opportunities – one that offers people of all ages who are interested in supporting children and youth in foster care with a vast array of possibilities for involvement.
The creation of Cockerton’s Menu of Engagement Opportunities is underway. Since establishing the Treehouse Foundation in 2002, she has partnered with Beacon Communities LLC to build a beautiful intergenerational neighborhood in western MA, where families adopting children from foster care live with elders in a caring community. She asked Berkshire Children and Families, an outstanding regional social service agency, to work with her to create a Treehouse teaming approach to support families adopting children from foster care.
Treehouse at Easthampton Meadow was built to support the creation of life-long family and community connections for children who have experienced foster care. Today Treehouse Circle is home to a diverse group of thoughtful people, ages 1 – 85 years, who are striving to create a neighborhood experience that strengthens the lives of everyone around them.
This innovative community has valuable lessons to teach us. Cockerton’s Treehouse Team, which includes partners and community members, has begun modeling non-traditional ways of caring for children, families, and elders in the areas of housing, child welfare, and community based programs. Her creative approach includes a Big Red Barn animal therapy program, sibling connection events, and an intergenerational garden.
As one visitor to Treehouse recently stated, “The magic of Treehouse is that it focuses on blessing life, helping people of all ages overcome what may be diminishing them, and restoring the goodness in one another.”
These are the secret ingredients of Judy Cockerton’s Menu of Engagement Options: blessing life, people of all ages, collaboration, out-of-the box thinking, creative partnerships, and restoring the goodness in one another. You can see it on Treehouse Circle, experience it in the programs she is creating with Sibling Connections, feel it in the cutting edge programs she is consulting with across the country, and read about it on this blog site… Welcome. We hope you visit often and feel inspired to try out Judy’s model programs in your own backyard.