TNOYS has been hard at work over the past several months helping member organizations to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting in March, TNOYS worked with the Office of the Texas Governor, Hogg Foundation, and the Children’s Justice Act Task Force to purchase supplies and distribute mini-grants to help organizations meet the needs of youth in their care. As of June 1st, TNOYS was pleased to assist 29 member organizations with supply requests, connecting them with over $32,000 in supplies. TNOYS also awarded $42,000 in mini-grants to 21 organizations to assist in their COVID-19 response.
Funds and supplies assisted youth and family services providers in meeting a wide range of challenges, from navigating increased expenses, to helping youth adjust to their “new normal”. This assistance also helped youth services organizations with supply shortages due to the higher demand for services. TNOYS responded by partnering with a nonprofit called The Off Ramp to sew and distribute over 2,000 cloth masks to member organizations across Texas. TNOYS also assisted member organizations in securing supplies such as gloves, Clorox cleaning supplies, thermometers, and more.
In addition to supply challenges, organizations needed resources and funding to assist them in moving to remote case management, and to maintain a sense of normalcy for youth in their care. Service providers needed computers/ tablets to facilitate online learning and case management, and to keep young people engaged constructively during the period of isolation and school closures. TNOYS purchased about a dozen laptops and ipads to assist online learning and case management, as well as earbuds, DVD players, playstations, art supplies, and board games to keep youth occupied. Other purchases included personal care products, reading lamps, disposable plates and cups, and more.
TNOYS was also pleased to distribute $42,000 worth of “mini-grants” to assist 21 member organizations in purchasing additional supplies.
Two such organizations, Angel Reach and Thru Project, explained that they used their mini-grant to offset the cost of laptops for former foster youth who were graduating from high school or obtaining their GED. In order to adhere to social distancing, Angel Reach created a drive-thru graduation ceremony where youth were greeted by volunteers and given a bag with a blanket, toiletries, a frame for the graduation photo, and the laptop.
LifeWorks, another grant recipient, explained that it went a long way toward supporting the LifeWorks Street Outreach program. The funding helped to bolster relief efforts by providing tents, masks, sanitizer, and sleeping bags to youth experiencing homelessness during this pandemic.
Finally, Parks Youth Ranch used TNOYS’ funding to provide options for normalcy to youth in their care, and “keep the youth in our care safe while giving them the chance to be teenagers”. They achieved this by allocating funds toward an end-of-school celebration, providing opportunities for self-care, purchasing earbuds for youth, and opportunities to encourage creativity and self-expression.
These examples illustrate the variety of challenges faced by youth and family services providers to create a safer, more secure environment for youth in their care during the coronavirus pandemic. We are grateful to the many providers across Texas that are working tirelessly on behalf of youth and families during this challenging time. Moving forward, TNOYS is pleased to have secured funding from The Meadows Foundation to distribute more resources in the coming months. If you have questions about TNOYS’ work, please contact Ann-Charlotte Proffitt at firstname.lastname@example.org.