Summary on TNOYS’ Virtual Meetings in Response to COVID-19


Last week, TNOYS brought together youth-service providers for peer-to-peer learning, information sharing, troubleshooting, and peer support through a series of virtual meetings. TNOYS has been coordinating some of its efforts with National Network for Youth, Texas Homeless Network, Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, and Texas Alliance of Child and Family Services.

Each call included opportunities for providers to hear from state regulatory agencies and discuss strategies for supporting youth and families through this crisis. 

Please find a brief description, and a link to notes from each virtual meeting below:

Emergency Shelter Task Force Meeting

On Tuesday, March 24, TNOYS hosted a virtual meeting of its Emergency Shelter Task Force. The meeting opened with an update on TNOYS’ COVID-19 work, including details about resources and supplies available to support providers in responding to COVID-19. Then, providers heard updates from Jenny Hinson, Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS)’s CPS Director of Placement, and Alan Schonborn, Office of the Texas Governor’s Child Sex Trafficking Team. Erin Whelan from LifeWorks, Shannan Stavinoha from Parks Youth Ranch, and Jeff  Alexander and Clara Thomas from Harris County Protective Services each shared their emergency response protocols in light of COVID-19, raising important issues such as how to talk to youth about COVID-19, accessing food in bulk, and enrolling youth who are in a new placement in school. Finally, participants had the opportunity to ask questions, share challenges and strategies, and raise concerns.

Please find meeting notes here.

Statewide Collaborative on Youth Homelessness Meeting

On Wednesday, March 25, TNOYS hosted a virtual meeting of its Statewide Collaborative on Youth Homelessness to discuss strategies for supporting youth, young adults, and families experiencing homelessness. Once again, TNOYS provided an update on its work to support providers in responding to COVID-19, as well as an update on behalf of Texas Homeless Network. Next, Darla Bardine (National Network for Youth) provided updates on discussions with federal agencies, including the Administration for Children and Families, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the Centers for Disease Control.

Next, state agencies shared updates on their latest guidelines and resources for providers, including Valinda Bolton (DFPS Child Protective Services), Alan Schonborn (Office of the Governor’s Child Sex Trafficking Team), Cal Lopez (Texas Education Agency’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Education State Coordinator), and Naomi Cantu (Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs). Topics covered included federal funding flexibility, best practices for frontline workers, support for current and former foster youth, and technology solutions for virtual learning.

Please find meeting notes here.

Transitional Services Provider Meeting

On Thursday, March 26, TNOYS hosted a virtual meeting intended for providers of PAL, TLP, and SIL services for youth and young adults who are in foster care or who have recently exited the foster care system. The meeting opened with an update on TNOYS’ Emergency Response Resource Center and Guidance for Providers document. Next, Debra Emerson from the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) provided information and updates from the department. She discussed issues pertaining to youth in extended care at colleges and universities, PAL classes, and a new bill working its way through congress that focuses on CHAFEE and ETV, among other updates.

Next, participants heard from TNOYS’ Director of Public Policy, Lauren Rose, on TNOYS’ work to advocate alongside partners at the federal level. Finally, the meeting moved to an open discussion. Topics included strategies to help youth understand the seriousness of COVID-19, creating space for symptomatic clients, and how TNOYS’ mini-grants for census work can be integrated into current programming.

Please find meeting notes here.

Family and Youth Success Program (previously known as STAR) Provider Meeting

On Friday, March 27, TNOYS hosted Family and Youth Success Program providers to share and discuss with each other what is and isn’t working for them as they support youth and families during this time of transition and uncertainty. The meeting began with an update from Andrea Sparks (Office of the Governor’s Child Sex Trafficking Team). Andrea discussed a pilot program launched through the Governor’s office to get food out to youth and families served by STAR Providers.

The meeting then opened up to peer-to-peer information sharing on how STAR providers are adapting. Jessica Kilpatrick from STARRY discussed the various ways in which the organization is supporting remote case management and telehealth. Participants also heard from Jeff Reed of Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG) on the challenges of providing remote care within rural areas with limited broadband access. Next, Kimberly Rodriguez (BCFS Health and Human Services) discussed the resources that their team created for doing telehealth and remote case management.

At the close of the meeting, TNOYS Director of Public Policy Lauren Rose led a discussion on how TNOYS can support providers. Several participants, including Jamie Freeny, Director of Center for School Behavioral Health, MHA of Greater Houston, provided valuable feedback.

Please find meeting notes here.

TNOYS is working closely with providers on our COVID-19 response, and these meetings provided a valuable opportunity for our team to understand and address providers’ needs in light of COVID-19. Stay tuned, as we will be announcing additional meetings soon.

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