TNOYS always welcomes opportunities to bring our members together to learn, network, and have fun. Yesterday’s Winter Member Meeting was a great chance to do that, as we hosted nearly 50 members from across the state who heard from state executives, TNOYS staff and each other about new developments in youth and family services. Click here to view photos from the meeting and read on for a summary of what was discussed.
The meeting kicked off with presentations from Kristene Blackstone and Sasha Rasco of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) about updates on Child Protective Services (CPS) and Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI). They had a lot of good news to share about improvements they have seen at the agency since recent legislative measures that have allowed for more staff, better pay, and lower caseloads. Looking ahead, CPS is focused on implementation of additional legislative changes from last year’s 85th Legislative Session and PEI is focused on continuing to figure out how to scale their efforts and reach even more youth and families. Following the formal presentations, TNOYS members were given time to catch up one-on-one with Kristene and Sasha to share their thoughts and questions. Click here to view the presentation shared by Sasha Rasco and click here to share the presentation shared by Kristene Blackstone.
Next, the group enjoyed a BBQ lunch, while hearing some federal policy updates via a conference call with National Network for Youth (NN4Y) in Washington, D.C. NN4Y shared that they expect level funding to continue for important federal programs serving youth that touch us here in Texas, such as the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act and McKinney-Vento Act.
The second half of the day was devoted to a series of shift and share sessions, where members visited stations for short ten-minute presentations from TNOYS staff and fellow member organizations. We were excited to hear from newer TNOYS organizations, including Spirit Reins, which provides equine therapy for youth who have experienced trauma; Hope’s Path, a recently established residential internship program in Houston; BCFS Health & Human Services, which recently launched its Common Thread sex trafficking response program; OrphanCare Solutions, which connects the faith-based community with the foster care system; and Salvation Army of Greater Houston’s Young Adult Resource Center, which support homeless young adults. We also had an opportunity to hear updates about the work of longer-term TNOYS members, including LifeWorks, Promise House, and Upbring, and gave members a chance to connect with TNOYS staff about TNOYS’ offerings in policy advocacy, youth/adult partnerships, training, and communications support.
Overall, many positive signs of growth for youth services organizations were shared throughout the day. From promising policy developments at both the state and federal levels, to inspiring new member organizations joining the network, to new ways for members to engage with TNOYS, we learned about many exciting opportunities to continue our collective work to support and enhance youth services in our state. We’re looking forward to working together as we move forward in 2018!