TNOYS amplifies youth and provider voices as part of work to develop a youth-centered, cross-systems policy agenda.
Austin – This week, Texas Network of Youth Services (TNOYS) kicks off a multi-city listening tour to hear from youth, young adults, and youth-serving providers within seven system areas: housing & homelessness services, child welfare, juvenile justice, health and mental health, education, workforce, and survivor services. The first listening sessions for providers take place tomorrow at Houston’s Children’s Assessment Center, and the first youth and young adult listening sessions will be held at TNOYS members organizations Houston reVision, Covenant House Texas, and The Houston Alumni and Youth (HAY) Center.
Supported by the Episcopal Health Foundation and Journey to Success Campaign, the Listening Tour is part of TNOYS’ work to develop a cross-systems, youth-focused policy agenda ahead of the 88th Texas Legislative Session. TNOYS has 40 years of expertise in engaging youth and providers in policy advocacy, an approach that has led to significant policy wins at the Texas Capitol. TNOYS and their partners have secured funding for prevention and early intervention programs, the first ever $3 million in dedicated state funding for services for unaccompanied youth and young adults experiencing homelessness, and many other achievements.
“Because youth involvement in any system is rarely mutually exclusive, it is critical that stakeholders across systems are engaged in developing policy solutions, ” explains Lauren Rose, TNOYS Director of Public Policy. “TNOYS’ Listening Tour will bring together youth-serving organizations, stakeholders, and youth and young adults across systems and geographic areas to effectively meet the diverse and complex needs of Texas’ most vulnerable yet resilient youth and young adults.”
The Listening Tour comes at a time when Texas is grappling with many challenges that impact systems-involved youth and young adults. Insights from this year’s tour will inform policy recommendations across a range of issues, including the foster care system’s ongoing capacity crisis, health and mental health supports for systems-involved youth and young adults, services to support youth and young adults as they transition out of systems, and much more.
Additionally, TNOYS is taking new steps to center the expertise of youth and young adults across the Listening Tour. Members of TNOYS’ Young Adult Leadership Council (YALC) are joining to shape and co-facilitate the youth-focused listening sessions through Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR), an innovative approach in which youth and young adults are trained to conduct systemic research to improve the systems intended to serve them.
“The Listening Tour is an important part of TNOYS’ ongoing work to build policy change that is shaped by and centers youth, young adults, and providers across the state,” explained Fedora Galasso, TNOYS Chief Executive Officer, “When youth are engaged in decision-making and empowered to advocate for themselves, this enhances youth resiliency, promotes better outcomes, and ultimately strengthens the systems that serve them.”
TNOYS’ Listening Tour takes place in April and May across several cities, with virtual sessions available as well. To learn how you can join a listening session, please reach out to Lauren Rose at email@example.com.