Each year, homelessness and housing instability jeopardize the safety of millions of youth and young adults (YYA). Among Texas YYA experiencing homelessness, the threat of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Youth (CSEY) is especially urgent: an estimated 25% of young Texans facing homelessness also experience at least one instance of CSEY.
TNOYS teamed up with the Office of the Texas Governor’s Child Sex Trafficking team to publish Meeting the Needs of Children and Youth Experiencing Commercial Sexual Exploitation, an actionable manual to equip housing and homelessness services providers to identify, address, and fight CSEY in their communities. Read the manual.
Access to healthcare is crucial for young people to achieve stability, overcome obstacles, excel in education and the workforce, and thrive as adults. Despite this, many of Texas’ at-risk or systems-impacted youth and young adults (YYA) face significant challenges with accessing care and youth-friendly health education and resources, making it difficult for them to ensure their health needs are met.
With support from Episcopal Health Foundation, TNOYS sought to understand and address YYAs’ barriers to health education and access. Our brief provides actionable recommendations for youth services professionals, healthcare professionals, policymakers, and others. Read the report.
Through a survey, focus groups, and listening sessions, TNOYS heard directly from Central Texas child welfare providers and youth and young adults who have lived expertise in the child welfare system. The report outlines findings from this research, as well as recommendations that include regular training on trauma-informed care (TIC) implementation, improved data sharing across systems, and the need to more frequently integrate community voice. Read the full report here.
Listening and Learning from Youth, Young Adults, and Providers on Preventing and Ending Youth Homelessness
In October 2021, TNOYS teamed up with the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) to hear from youth, young adults, and providers to better understand and center the needs of young people experiencing homelessness. At two listening sessions, over 60 youth, young adults, and services providers shared valuable input that will inform USICH’s new federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness.
TNOYS’ new report, Listening and Learning from Youth, Young Adults, and Providers on Preventing and Ending Youth Homelessness outlines emergent themes from these listening sessions including the need for more youth-specific resources, the urgency to remove housing barriers, and the need to support older youth as they exit systems/ transition to adulthood. Read the full report here.
Updating the PAL Independent Living Study Guides: Listening and Learning from Youth Transitioning into Adulthood
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. This work was the starting point for TNOYS’ Transition-Age Youth (TAY) Life Skills Study Guides, a comprehensive resource with youth-friendly, relevant materials for those who are aging out of the foster care system, as well as additional resources for youth transitioning into adulthood from other systems or those experiencing homelessness.
To develop the guides, TNOYS asked for input from 29 Youth and Young Adults (YYAs). YYA participants shared their needs as they exited care, as well as the resources, tools, and information that would help them be successful in their transition to adulthood. In the new report, read about the process to develop the TAY guides and why they are such an important resource for transition-age youth.
During the 87th Texas Legislative Session, TNOYS was grateful to advance a cross-systems policy agenda that was directly informed by youth-serving providers and young people who have been involved with these systems.
In collaboration with member organizations and youth partners, TNOYS secured important wins for prevention and early intervention services, supports for youth transition to adulthood and those experiencing homelessness, and much more. In the recap report, we provide a summary of TNOYS’ efforts and new legislation that will impact Texas youth, families, and youth-serving providers.
This report examines the lasting impacts of natural disasters and emergencies on the lives of children and youth from the youth perspective. The report aims to better understand what gaps might still exist for young people in emergency response systems and how TNOYS can support its network of members to fill those gaps.
To inform the report, TNOYS analyzed existing research into the impacts of disasters and emergencies on children and youth, interviewed young people who have lived through a disaster or emergency to learn about their experiences, and spoke with stakeholders in the emergency response and youth services fields to learn what they see in their work. Learn more about the survey and read the full report here.
In 2019, the Office of the Governor provided funding for the Texas Center for Child and Family Studies (the Center) and the Texas Network of Youth Services (TNOYS) to collaboratively conduct a statewide scan of available service capacity for meeting the comprehensive needs of commercially sexually exploited youth (CSEY). This scan was commissioned in order to gather data that can be used to support capacity building for specialized CSEY services in Texas. Together, the Center and TNOYS created and deployed a survey to community service providers throughout the state likely to be serving CSEY or youth at risk of CSEY. Learn more about the survey and read the full report here.
The 86th Texas Legislative Session resulted in several bills and budget decisions that TNOYS believes will truly make a difference in the lives of youth across systems. In this recap report, we provide a summary to give youth and those who work with them an overview of the key policy changes from the session that will impact them and their work.
This Blueprint is intended to provide a cohesive statewide roadmap to help realize a Texas child welfare system that is trauma-informed and trauma-responsive. TNOYS’ Executive Director Christine Gendron served on the Statewide Collaborative on Trauma-Informed Care (SCTIC) that developed the document. The strategies in the Blueprint range from short-term to long-term in duration and cover a wide breadth of topics and areas of focus. It can be used by a large statewide task force and by organizations and individuals working in the child welfare system.
In 2017, the Texas Legislature mandated through Senate Bill 1758 that the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) and key stakeholders/partners develop a plan to standardize the curriculum for the Preparation for Adult Living (PAL) program that ensures youth in foster care ages 14 years and older receive the most relevant and age appropriate information and training. TNOYS staff and member organizations participated in this workgroup and TNOYS made substantial contributions to the writing of this report.
This report is based on findings from a listening tour TNOYS undertook in the summer of 2017 to gain a more thorough understanding of the youth services landscape. TNOYS engaged with representatives from dozens of organizations during the tour, including providers of foster care, prevention and early intervention, emergency shelter and other services, as well as youth and families served by these organizations and other key stakeholders such as funders. The findings are meant to inform TNOYS’ expanding work in the Houston area and are potentially of interest to others who are doing similar work.
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.
The 85th Texas Legislative Session was an important one for our state’s child welfare system. TNOYS drafted this report to explain the policy changes that were made this session and how they will impact the work of Texas’ youth and the professionals who serve them. The success of the legislative session for youth service organizations and other child welfare stakeholders was mixed, but there were some major wins for Texas youth and families and the providers who serve them and some major policy changes to be aware of. The report outlines the information according to TNOYS’ legislative priority areas, which include prevention and early intervention, youth homelessness, trauma-informed care, supporting the transition to adulthood, and youth engagement.
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.
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.
This toolkit features a compilation of some of TNOYS’ best resources on starting or enhancing youth engagement efforts within youth services organizations. The toolkit includes a definition of youth engagement and explanation of its benefits, tools to help agencies assess their readiness and progress on incorporating youth engagement, best practices for working with youth, and other practical strategies that organizations can implement to launch or enhance their efforts. The toolkit also includes real-life lessons from those who have practiced youth engagement in the field.
In the official Youth Count Texas! Toolkit, you will find resources on how you can join us in this initiative to better support youth experiencing housing instability and homelessness. The Toolkit includes surveys, training materials, information on best practices, debriefing materials, and more!
This report presents a thorough evaluation of the Creating a Culture of Care initiative, a collaborative effort between TNOYS and the University of Texas’ Hogg Foundation for Mental Health to impact how youth in Texas residential treatment centers receive care. The report includes key findings from quantitative and qualitative research that measured seclusion and restraint reporting and documented organizational changes at 11 intensive sites that were part of the initiative. The findings serve as important evidence that organizational culture change to reduce seclusion/restraint use at residential treatment centers can occur successfully.
Creating a Culture of Care Videos
We have created two videos featuring TNOYS staff expert Jack Nowicki as well as staff from a participating residential treatment center (RTCs), Helping Hand Home for Children. These tools provide a firsthand look at how to reduce the use of seclusion and restraint at RTCs by implementing trauma-informed practices.
This evaluation report of the Planning Phase of the Houston/Harris County Transition-Age Youth and Families initiative offers findings, insights, and recommendations for organizations, funders, and youth/caregiver leaders working to engage youth and families in service planning and delivery. it captures the work of TNOYS and 8 Houston organizations over a 6-month planning period.
When embarking on the TAYF project, TNOYS staff first conducted a review of academic literature on youth engagement, particularly as it relates to peer leader roles. We summarized the findings of this review and made them available for the benefit of any organizations that are working to engage youth.
View more TNOYS publications here.