Below are photos of some of the children who attended the Youth Count Texas! event in Victoria, Texas in February.
The first thing you’d notice when entering the Youth Count Texas! event in Victoria, Texas was the flurry of activity. There were numerous organizations that had tables set up with information about health care, the library, and other local resources available to families. There were also booths set up where people could get their haircut and makeup done by professionals. Free clothing and toiletries were available, as well as arts and crafts activities, and a hot meal was provided for all. Hands down, the most entertaining part of the event was the free hip hop dance lesson given to the large group of kids that attended.
The Victoria Area Homeless Coalition, Kidz Connection, and Jeans for Teens hosted this event for homeless youth and families in the Victoria area. Along with providing a fun day of activities and free resources, the organization was also able to capture information about homeless youth and families using the Youth Count Texas! surveys. Many single mothers experiencing poverty or homelessness were there with their children.
One mother was a nurse and struggling to take care of her three children, one of whom has autism. She and her children had slept in a shelter the night before. Another mother wanted to save enough money to be able to pay for her own housing. Her son doesn’t realize they are technically homeless, and she wants to keep it that way.
As the children ran around, playing games and enjoying the day, it was difficult to imagine the many hardships they have endured, and may continue to face. They are fortunate to have services and support organizations like the Victoria Area Homeless Coalition making a positive difference in their lives, and with the insights provided from the Youth Count Texas! data, we hope to expand and customize services and supports to meet the specific needs of children and youth in our state.