When explaining the work of Boys Town Texas, the organization’s Executive Director Janie Cook refers to a description she once heard from a colleague: “She said that we teach adults how to raise children,” Cook recalls. “We’re about children but most of the work we do is with adults because children don’t grow up in a vacuum.”
The goal is ultimately to prevent and respond to child abuse and neglect, and the organization does that in various ways, including classroom-based parenting courses, in-home mentoring, foster care and adoption services, and a statewide 24-hour hotline available to both children and adults. Boys Town Texas, which is headquartered in San Antonio and is a branch of the larger national organization, touches the lives of 81,000 children and families in Texas each year through these programs and services.
Cook, who is on TNOYS’ Board of Directors, says Boys Town Texas has been a member of TNOYS since she joined the organization eight years ago and finds the membership benefits valuable to their work, particularly the supportive peer network TNOYS provides.
“As youth-serving agencies, we have so many of the same challenges,” Cook says. “When you’re doing the work, it’s easy to think you’re the only one and not realize it’s a systemic issue. It’s very important for member organizations to make that connection and realize that it’s not just your problem and collectively your voice is stronger.”
She points to TNOYS’ annual conference as a great place to see this peer support network in action, along with the training opportunities that are offered. “Sometimes it’s hard to go to conferences and feel like you come away with something new. But last year, I came away from TNOYS’ conference inspired,” Cook says. “They do a good job of balancing knowledge with inspiration, because the longer you’re in the youth services field, sometimes that’s what you need most.”