More than 111,000 students in Texas schools are experiencing homelessness, and at least 15% of those are without a parent or guardian. Housing instability can have significant effects on the lives of young people and compromise their ability to make a transition to a successful adulthood. 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 the criminal justice systems, education, and other key institutions.
The resources below can help better understand the unique needs of homeless young people and provide guidance on how to best serve them.
From 2020 through 2021, TNOYS partnered with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) and the Supreme Court of Texas Children’s Commission to update the Preparation for Adult Living (PAL) Independent Living Study Guides, which assist older youth and young adults in foster care with the transition to adulthood.
TNOYS worked with and listened to the Young Adult Leadership Council, systems-involved youth, and staff with lived experience to make the guides more youth-friendly and relevant to today’s young people transitioning into adulthood. The new Transition-Age Youth (TAY) Life Skills Study Guides incorporate additional homelessness and other specialty resources to help improve outcomes for a wide range of systems-involved youth. Check out the guides here, and consider using them yourself or with the youth that you serve.
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
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.
The official Youth Count Texas! Toolkit was prepared to help communities participate in the first-ever statewide count of youth experiencing homelessness in Texas. In the toolkit, you will find resources on how you can host a youth count in your community. It includes surveys, training materials, information on best practices, debriefing materials, and more!
Host home programs are an innovative way to help address homelessness among young people by tapping into the personal networks they have already built. This toolkit contains materials that can provide guidance to host home families and organizations looking to establish host home programs.
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.
Webinar Recording: Black Girls Experiencing Homelessness: How Factors Such as Hurricane Harvey Make a Bad Situation Worse
In this August 2019 webinar, Jacqueline Miller, founder of Healthy Actions Intervening Responsibly, and Lyric Wardlow, TNOYS Youth Specialist, raised awareness of ongoing trauma and social isolation of black girls who are experiencing multiple risk factors that intersect with homelessness and post-disasters such as Hurricane Harvey. Participants explored how to find tools and resources to build resilience from a cultural perspective. This webinar was offered as part of TNOYS’ Safety Nets for Students and Families project. Click here to fill out the registration form to gain access of the webinar recording.
This webinar features presenters from LifeWorks and Austin ECHO on building community collaborations to address youth and family homelessness and focuses on building collaborations with school districts, service providers, juvenile justice and child welfare agencies, and other partners and stakeholders and will feature examples from the Austin Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project as well as the LifeWorks Services to At-Risk Youth (STAR) program. Click here to fill out a registration form and gain access to the recording.
Join Gabriella McDonald, Texas Appleseed‘s Pro Bono and New Projects Director, for an explanation of the legal rights of youth and common legal concerns they may have. This includes issues related to homelessness, foster care, juvenile justice involvement, and school settings. You will also learn when and why lawyers can be helpful to youth. Click here to fill out a registration form and gain access to the recording.
Schools are required by federal McKinney-Vento legislation to provide services and supports for students who are experiencing homelessness or housing instability. This webinar, presented by the Texas Homeless Education Office (THEO) and recorded in November 2018, outlines the services and supports that schools are required to provide and offers tools and resources for working with your local school district. The webinar is ideal for those working in STAR programs, emergency shelters, other programs that serve young people who are homeless or at risk, and those who are interested in the Safety Nets for Students and Families project. Click here to fill out a registration form and gain access to the recording.
In this September 2016 panel discussion, former TNOYS staffer Jack Nowikci and two other experts, TNOYS Board Member Erin Whelan of Lifeworks and Gabriella McDonald of Texas Appleseed, participated in a panel discussion on the difficulties in securing shelter for homeless youth. During the hour-long session, the three discussed a variety of challenges providers might face in securing housing for youth, and offered ideas about how to address them. The panelists shared that these situations can be delicate and require perseverance, judgment calls, a strong understanding of local resources, and creative solutions to ensure vulnerable young people get the help they need.
The legal issues that can arise when homeless and unaccompanied minors attempt to access housing, education, and medical care can be confusing. Many may not realize that an unaccompanied minor has a right to consent to medical care without permission from a parent or guardian. This form created by Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid is intended to help minors give consent to access medical care. The document includes both a blank form and a sample form filled out to give an idea of the kind of information that should be included.
Certification of Homeless Status for Texas Birth Certificate, Texas Identification Card, and Driver’s License
Many homeless youth and young adults struggle to obtain their Texas birth certificates and Texas Department of Public Safety issued Texas ID cards and driver’s licenses. Without these documents, youth are not able to function fully in our society and will encounter barriers to employment, housing, education, travel and more. Texas law makes it easier for homeless youth and young adults to obtain these critical documents. Fees for the birth certificate, ID Card and driver’s licenses are also waived.
To be eligible to use these new procedures, homeless youth must be certified as homeless defined by 42 U.S.C. Section 11434a, the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. Youth can be certified by the designated district liaison with the school district where the youth is enrolled, the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, the director of a basic center for runaway and homeless youth, or the director of a transitional living program. Download a certification form here.
Please review this document for detailed guidance on how homeless youth can obtain their Texas birth certificate, ID and license. To view a Spanish Language version of this document, please click here.
For more information, please review the fact sheets below: