Every two to three years, TNOYS works with our Board of Directors to develop a strategic plan to guide our work and outline priorities for supporting Texas’ youth and families and the organizations and professionals who serve them. We recently completed the new strategic plan for FY 2020 – FY 2021 and we’re excited about how it will enhance and expand our work. See below for some of the key components of the new plan and what they mean for TNOYS, our members, and Texas’ youth and families:
1. We will formally welcome into our network professionals who serve youth, young adults, and families across systems, including education, healthcare, justice, workforce, and more.
TNOYS has long worked with youth service organizations and professionals in the child welfare, mental health, and homelessness fields but the leadership, resources and support we offer have proven to be of value to those working in numerous other systems that serve young people and their families.. Research and experience both indicate that youth who are systems involved often touch multiple systems, making it important to take a holistic look at how youth receive services in all aspects of their lives. Additionally, the resources and support that young people need in order to transition to successful adulthood are somewhat standard or similar regardless of the system or situation that the youth is in. Those resources include relationships with a caring adult, trauma informed services, and opportunities for voice and choice.
TNOYS is now formally expanding our membership network, conferences, and all other services to organizations and professionals working in any system that serves youth or young adults. These include child welfare, housing and homelessness services, workforce, health and behavioral health, education, justice, and victim and survivor services. This will not be entirely new since we have partnered with and served individuals and organizations in these fields through grant projects and other initiatives for many years, but the new approach will allow us to broaden our Network amore deliberately and take a more holistic approach to creating the best future for Texas youth and families.
2. We are making a commitment to advance equity for Texas’ youth, young adults, and their families.
In order to provide the best possible services to youth and families, it is critical that professionals have an understanding of issues that impact their lives and that contribute to the most effective services. TNOYS has identified four priority areas in our FY 2019-2021 strategic plan that take into account these issues, one of which is equity and inclusion. There is increasing awareness of the significant role that race, gender, and other characteristics play in determining outcomes for youth and families. Service providers must be aware of these issues and incorporate an understanding of them into service delivery and we are committed to helping advance this awareness and understanding. Additionally, an equity lens must also be used to drive and inform public policy. Click here for a recent op-ed co-authored by Young Adult Leadership Council (YALC) member Charles Batiste that addresses issues of race and equity in the context of youth homelessness.
3. We are continuing to expand our commitment to working with youth as partners and to elevating youth voice.
Working to ensure that youth and families have opportunities to make or weigh in on the decisions that impact their lives has been proven to improve services and outcomes. TNOYS’ efforts to advance youth voice and youth-adult partnership are some of the most important steps that we have undertaken in recent years and we want to continue to expand this important work. Our PEAKS Adventure Camp, Young Adult Leadership Council, and incorporation of youth participants into our Annual Conference are all great examples of ways that we work to view youth as equal partners and incorporate their views and voices into our efforts. Over the last year we have taken this work even further by bringing young adults with lived experience onto our staff team. We are continuing to look for even more ways that we can substantively involve youth in what we do and encourage and support others to do the same.
This article highlights just a few of the many important elements of our new strategic plan — click here to see a visual that demonstrates more fully how our mission, vision and approach have been updated to better reflect and guide our work, and be on the lookout for more communications on these topics in the coming months.