Elevating the Voices of San Antonio Youth to Assist in City of San Antonio’s COVID-19 Recovery

CONTACT: Roland Martinez (210) 207-5920

SAN ANTONIO (June 27, 2022) – In response to COVID-19, the Department of Human Services (DHS) launched initiatives to support vulnerable youth populations, including those involved in the foster system, facing mental health challenges, involved with gang activity and/ or disconnected from school or the workforce.

Based on this work, DHS is releasing three critical studies that elevate the voices of our city's youth and highlight findings related to the challenges they face:
  • Teen Mental Health Survey
  • Increasing Educational Workforce Attainment for San Antonio's Foster Youth
    Fiscal Year 2022 Impacts Report – Highlights results from pilot programs to support San Antonio's Opportunity Youth recovery

Teen Mental Health Survey
The Teen Mental Health Survey, developed through a collaboration between the San Antonio Youth Commission and Project Worth Teen Ambassador, was created by youth for youth to better understand teen mental health experiences in the community. The survey reached over 1,000 youth, ages 12-19, from every city council district in San Antonio.

In response to the Teen Mental Survey, Youth Commission leader, Julia Doski stated a critical point for empowering our youth, saying, "This is not just proof of a problem, it's a cry for help. This is more than just thinking about a problem. It's preventing it from happening to people ever again."

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The top two factors negatively impacting mental health were COVID-19 and school. Data reveals that over two-thirds of youth do not feel their schools have the adequate resources to address the mental health needs of teens in San Antonio. In particular, survey results highlighted significant mental health challenges experienced by LGBQ+ and gender diverse and  Asian American youth.

Youth identified needing more in school resources, easier access to mental health services and confidential texting services to support their mental health needs. The Teen Mental Health survey explains initial action taken from the data and will be used by youth leadership to develop supports across San Antonio.


Increasing Educational & Workforce Attainment for San Antonio's Foster Youth
In developing the report, the City of San Antonio held focus groups to capture the foster youth experiences and identifying additional supports within our existing programming to support post-secondary outcomes of foster youth.

The report found that youth formerly in foster care need increased mental health services, inter-agency communication, increased in-school support, including tutoring and extracurricular access, trauma-informed care for providers, and most importantly, housing options after aging out of the system.

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Pilot Programs to Support San Antonio's Opportunity Youths' Recovery
DHS received data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas that the number of opportunity youth in San Antonio had more than doubled from almost 34,000 to 74,000 youth in San Antonio because of COVID-19. City Council allocated $885,000 in May 2021 for Youth Education & Career Opportunities for Disconnected Youth to address the impact of COVID-19.

Three pilots were launched with community partners to reconnect youth with educational goals and workforce opportunities:  Earn While you Learn (Healy Murphy); High School to College Connection (Communities in Schools, Alamo Colleges, and SAISD); and Employment Mentorship (Healy Murphy and R3 Student Outreach).


Results from these reports will help to inform the ARPA Youth Services Investments Implementation Plan, anticipated to be approved by City Council in August 2022, which includes $10 million in allocated funding to support key strategies and programs that combat negative impacts of COVID – 19 on San Antonio youth and their families.

For more information about these reports, please contact Rebecca Flores, City of San Antonio Education Programs Administrator, rebecca.flores@sanantonio.gov.

Filed Under: Government, City

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