During the first week of August, TNOYS once again partnered with the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to host the Texas Education for Homeless Children and Youth (TEHCY) Program Summit, which convened more than 1,000 youth-serving professionals from across Texas. Guided by the theme The Road to Impact, the summit’s 42 workshops and three dynamic keynote speakers explored best practices to support students experiencing homelessness.
Attendees explored fundamentals of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, trauma and resilience, advancing equity, and much more. Attendees also enjoyed the unique opportunity to learn directly from youth and young adult presenters, putting the power of youth-adult partnership into action.
Pre-Summit and Day 1
The event started on Friday, July 30th with pre-summit programming specifically for ESC and TEHCY Subgrantees.
On Tuesday, August 3rd, Deja Fox opened up the full, two-day summit with an amazing keynote about her lived experience with homelessness in school. Deja opened up about the reality that students can both struggle and succeed at the same time, and advice on best practices when working with young people who might need support. Professionals then attended various workshops and webinars, where attendees explored topics such as navigating natural disasters, centering youth voice within trauma approaches, supporting high school seniors with post-secondary planning, and much more.
The summit also provided many opportunities for attendees to network and engage with their peers and counterparts in different regions, roles, and organizations. At midday, the program summit team facilitated a general discussion on working with youth experiencing homelessness and cross-systems collaboration. The team also hosted a series of roundtable discussions about best practices surrounding specific topics like identifying students experiencing homelessness, school of origin transportation services, and post-secondary transition assistance.
Program Summit Day 2
On the second full day of the program summit, attendees got started with a block of workshops across six topic tracks.
Topics included comprehensive school mental health, child abuse prevention, McKinney-Vento implementation, and ESSER Program Updates. Day 2 also again gave attendees many more opportunity to connect and network. This included networking events by geographic region for attendees joining the summit from Education Service Centers and Local Education Agencies.
The Day 2 keynote speaker was Dr. C. Nicole Mason, the president and chief executive officer of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR). Dr. Mason shared an excerpt from her memoir, Born Bright, which details her journey to become one of the nation’s foremost intersectional researchers and scholars. The memoir examines the conditions that hold people in poverty, and challenges misconceptions about those who struggle to escape similar circumstances. Dr. Mason exemplified this year’s theme when she highlighted a key nuance between policing youth and providing guardrails for them to succeed.
For the last set of workshops, we concluded with sessions on transportation services, solutions learned in the midst of COVID-19, a recap of Texas’ 87th Legislative Session, and best practices in building authentic youth-adult partnerships, among other topics.
The summit culminated with a special closing led by TEHCY State Program Coordinator Cal Lopez, which included an invigorating recorded message to attendees from Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath. Commissioner Morath illustrated the challenges students in Texas face today, pointing out the qualities and resources employed by professionals to help those youth feel supported enough to persevere.
In case you missed it, be sure to check out the 2021 TEHCY Program Summit introductory video featuring TNOYS staff, presenters, and members of our Young Adult Leadership Council (YALC).
This year’s program summit took place virtually, and TEA & TNOYS were thrilled to see such fantastic participation from so many professionals across the state. Attendees from different backgrounds came together to build skills and explore important topics that were central to this year’s theme. The keynote speakers shared their personal lived experience and what drove them to make an impact in the lives of youth experiencing homelessness and those involved in systems. We hope that each and every attendee left feeling inspired and galvanized the grow our impact in the lives of students experiencing homelessness!