Texas Network of Youth Services to present leadership award at annual conference in

HOUSTON – Texas Network of Youth Service (TNOYS) is presenting its annual Distinguished Leadership Award to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) in recognition of the work done by the agency and its Child Protective Services staff to protect children and families impacted by Hurricane Harvey. The award will be presented today during TNOYS’ annual conference in Houston.

“The department’s response to Hurricane Harvey demonstrated outstanding leadership, required strong coordination, and displayed the commitment of the agency’s staff, from the top down, to protect children despite challenges,” said Christine Gendron, TNOYS’ executive director. “The response was especially impressive given all of the changes the agency was already going through at the time and the fact that so many of its staff were personally impacted by the storm.”

When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston last year, it impacted thousands of youth in the state’s care – within days of the storm, over 900 of these youth living in 21 residential facilities in the Houston area had been evacuated to safety. DFPS was responsible for tracking all youth in the state’s care during this time and also stepped in to help coordinate evacuations and provide other assistance as needed. Once the storm had passed and rebuilding efforts began, the agency was then responsible for monitoring and supporting the many foster care providers and families already considered to be “in crisis” who were suddenly without housing.

The award is being presented to DFPS Commissioner Hank Whitman and Associate Commissioner Kristene Blackstone during TNOYS’ 35th Annual Conference at Houston’s Westin Galleria, which is attended each year by hundreds of youth services professionals from across Texas, as well as by youth and family members who have been involved in state systems.

In addition to DFPS, TNOYS will recognize several other outstanding Texas individuals and organizations who have shown leadership and dedication in serving youth, including two other Houston-area individuals and organizations that were heavily involved in the Hurricane Harvey Response effort: Rafael Sarango, manager of the Houston-area Salvation Army’s Young Adult Resource Center, and Spring-based Hope’s Path. Additional awardees include Craig Cormier, youth partner with Harris County Youth on B.O.A.R.D; Fennell Seilenga, a professional youth worker with ACH Child & Family Services in Fort Worth; and Bob Daemmrich and Susan Jensen, volunteers with Upbring in Austin.

About Texas Network of Youth Services (TNOYS)

For more than 30 years, TNOYS has been the leading organization working to enhance services for Texas youth who are homeless, in foster care, or at risk, and to support the providers who care for them. The organization takes a comprehensive systems change approach to strengthen critical services for youth and families, focusing on policy advocacy, training and program development for providers, and youth voice. To learn more, visit www.tnoys.org.