In 2017, the Texas Legislature mandated through Senate Bill 1758 that the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) and key stakeholders/partners develop a plan to standardize the curriculum for the Preparation for Adult Living (PAL) program that ensures youth in foster care ages 14 years and older receive the most relevant and age appropriate information and training. TNOYS staff and member organizations participated in this workgroup and TNOYS made substantial contributions to the writing of this report.
This report is based on findings from a listening tour TNOYS undertook in the summer of 2017 to gain a more thorough understanding of the youth services landscape. TNOYS engaged with representatives from dozens of organizations during the tour, including providers of foster care, prevention and early intervention, emergency shelter and other services, as well as youth and families served by these organizations and other key stakeholders such as funders. The findings are meant to inform TNOYS’ expanding work in the Houston area and are potentially of interest to others who are doing similar work.
This joint report produced by TNOYS and Texas Appleseed is the most comprehensive study to date of youth homelessness in Texas. Its key finding is that the lack of a cohesive policy and funding approach to address the problem of youth homelessness in Texas has resulted in high levels of youth who are homeless and poor outcomes for these young people. The report’s findings reveal that youth homelessness doesn’t just affect youth who find themselves without homes, it also has broader implications for the communities in which they live because of the impact on criminal justice, education, and other key institutions. In addition to these findings, the report shares recommendations on policies that can better support the state’s service providers who are working to address youth homelessness, and the young people they serve.
The 85th Texas Legislative Session was an important one for our state’s child welfare system. TNOYS drafted this report to explain the policy changes that were made this session and how they will impact the work of Texas’ youth and the professionals who serve them. The success of the legislative session for youth service organizations and other child welfare stakeholders was mixed, but there were some major wins for Texas youth and families and the providers who serve them and some major policy changes to be aware of. The report outlines the information according to TNOYS’ legislative priority areas, which include prevention and early intervention, youth homelessness, trauma-informed care, supporting the transition to adulthood, and youth engagement.
Supporting Students Experiencing Homelessness: Insights from a Survey of Homeless Liaisons in Texas Public Schools
In 2016, TNOYS conducted a statewide survey of homeless liaisons in Texas public schools, who are tasked with identifying and supporting students experiencing homelessness. The purpose of this policy brief is to share findings from TNOYS’ survey and offer insight into how Texas can best support these homeless liaisons as they work to ensure that legal protections for homeless students are met. The survey reveals that homeless liaisons face many challenges, including competing demands on their time and difficulty identifying homeless students. Based on these findings, the report offers policy recommendations on how to better support these liaisons and the youth they serve who are experiencing homelessness in Texas.
In 2015, the Texas Legislature mandated through House Bill 679 that the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) produce a study of homeless youth in Texas. TDHCA contracted with TNOYS and the University of Houston to produce this report, which was delivered to the Texas Legislature in December 2016. The report includes information on the number of homeless youth in the state, their needs, services available to support them, and funding sources dedicated to those services. It is based on data gathered from the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, and original data collected from 750+ homeless youth through the Youth Count! Texas study carried out by TNOYS and community partners across the state.
Click here to see the YCT! Process Evaluation report Appendix (survey tool) referenced in the report.
UNDERSTANDING YOUTH RIGHTS: Helping Providers Navigate the Laws and Policies Affecting Unaccompanied Homeless Youth
This guide helps youth services providers navigate the often confusing laws that apply to homeless or unaccompanied youth, in order to better serve this vulnerable population. Guidance is provided on state and federal laws around issues such as emergency shelter/housing, emancipation, public education, medical treatment, and state and federal benefits. Each section of the guide contains answers to the most frequently asked questions related to each subject and offers general guidelines for most situations, and the first three chapters focus on how providers can empower the youth voice, help youth understand their rights and responsibilities, and appreciate and understand the cultural diversity among homeless youth.
This toolkit features a compilation of some of TNOYS’ best resources on starting or enhancing youth engagement efforts within youth services organizations. The toolkit includes a definition of youth engagement and explanation of its benefits, tools to help agencies assess their readiness and progress on incorporating youth engagement, best practices for working with youth, and other practical strategies that organizations can implement to launch or enhance their efforts. The toolkit also includes real-life lessons from the those who have practiced youth engagement in the field.
In the official Youth Count Texas! Toolkit, you will find resources on how you can join us in this initiative to better support youth experiencing housing instability and homelessness. The Toolkit includes surveys, training materials, information on best practices, debriefing materials, and more!
This report presents a thorough evaluation of the Creating a Culture of Care initiative, a collaborative effort between TNOYS and the University of Texas’ Hogg Foundation for Mental Health to impact how youth in Texas residential treatment centers receive care. The report includes key findings from quantitative and qualitative research that measured seclusion and restraint reporting and documented organizational changes at 11 intensive sites that were part of the initiative. The findings serve as important evidence that organizational culture change to reduce seclusion/restraint use at residential treatment centers can occur successfully.
Creating a Culture of Care Videos
We have created two videos featuring TNOYS staff expert Jack Nowicki as well as staff from a participating residential treatment center (RTCs), Helping Hand Home for Children. These tools provide a firsthand look at how to reduce the use of seclusion and restraint at RTCs by implementing trauma-informed practices.
When embarking on the TAYF project, TNOYS staff first conducted a review of academic literature on youth engagement, particularly as it relates to peer leader roles. We summarized the findings of this review and made them available for the benefit of any organizations that are working to engage youth.