In 2017, 1,700 youth in foster care in Texas ran away, and for many it wasn’t the first time they had done so. The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) has launched an effort to better understand why youth run from care and how they can better support these youth to prevent them from doing so. The effort has sparked significant organizational culture change and rethinking how to approach instances of runaway, most notably by listening and responding to the youth themselves.
Now, DFPS and TNOYS are teaming up for a multi-city discussion series titled “Building Alliances with Youth to Prevent Runaway and Other Challenging Behaviors,” to share learnings from this effort and offer guidance for how youth services providers can replicate it.
In its work to respond to runaway youth, DFPS has implemented wraparound meetings, where key people in the life of the youth are invited to the table to listen to his or her reasons for running away and listen to his or her ideas about how to feel more comfortable staying in care. A plan is typically developed to ensure appropriate services are identified with the youth during this meeting and the placement plans for the youth are evaluated. During this meeting DFPS is also able to communicate with the youth what actions they can take to act on what the youth has shared to prevent future run away occurrences. This is an excellent example of elevating youth voice, a principle that TNOYS strongly supports and has extensive experience promoting through training and consulting services, including the recent Recovery Through Participation initiative.
At the Building Alliances events, DFPS leadership, members of TNOYS’ network, and youth with lived experience will host a roundtable discussion about the DFPS effort and the principles that guide it. The events are free of charge and open to foster care stakeholders, including providers, foster parents, and CPS caseworkers. CEUs will be offered. Below is the list of dates and locations for the events, with links to registration forms:
Houston – Registration Closed
Monday, March 25, 2019, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Hosted by Harris County Protective Services
Dallas/Fort Worth – Registration Closed
Wednesday, April 3, 2019, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Hosted by ACH Child and Family Services
San Antonio – Register Now!
Wednesday, May 1, 2019, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Hosted by BCFS Health and Human Services
For more information about DFPS’ runaway initiative, see this video interview with Kristene Blackstone, Associate Commissioner for Child Protective Services. For more about elevating youth voice, see TNOYS’ Youth Engagement Toolkit.