Norris Applauds Upward Movement Of Tennessee’s Status On Child Well-Being

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) called Tuesday’s announcement that Tennessee has climbed three places in the national ranking for child well-being “a significant step in the right direction.” Senator Norris made the statement after the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2017 KIDS COUNT released their report showing the state has moved from 38th to 35th.

“This is the first improvement that has been recognized since we publicly declared in 2015 an all-out war on this unacceptable ranking,” said Senator Norris.  “A lot of work has been done to move the needle forward.  Although 35th is still unacceptable, the improvement recognized this year is a significant step in the right direction in making a major difference in the lives of Tennessee children.”

Senator Norris has led several initiatives aimed at education, workforce development, nutrition and juvenile justice. As sponsor of the appropriations bill, he pushed for state funding for food banks, community health centers and residential adolescent drug treatment programs across the state.  This includes a $2.5 million grant to the Memphis Research Consortium this year focusing on children’s health and well-being and funds to create the Center for Health in Justice Involved Youth at the University of Tennessee Center for Health Sciences. 

As chairman of the Juvenile Justice Realignment Task Force, he has worked to reform the state’s juvenile justice system, especially as it affects outcomes for non-violent offenders who deserve a second chance.  Last week, Senator Norris was appointed to chair a newly formed Blue Ribbon Task Force which will work with the Pew Foundation to analyze and recommend additional reforms. 

He also spearheaded funding for the state’s Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE’s) study which has already been used to implement public policy changes to help children who have chronic childhood trauma live a happy and productive life.  He sponsored the initiative to provide $2 million in grants for Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) work in communities across the state through the Department of Children’s Services.

“The factors young children are exposed to, like abuse and neglect, have a significant neurological impact on their long-term development,” said Senator Norris.  “This study has shed light on the problems we face as adverse childhood experiences increase the odds for later difficulties, including the chances that they will enter the juvenile justice system.  This study has given us more information about what we need to do to help these children get a better start in life and divert those most affected from a lifetime of crime.”

This year Senator Norris co-sponsored legislation, based on the ACE’s study, which establishes a Zero to Three Initiative Court.  The primary goal of the Zero to Three Initiative is to reduce the time of permanency of children in at-risk environments by surrounding families of children age 36 months or younger with support services, whether it is returning them to parents, living with relatives or getting them ready for adoption.

He also co-sponsored legislation implementing an innovative truancy intervention program for students in K-12 schools.  Truancy is the most frequent reason given for schools referring juveniles to court.    

“If we can get at the root causes of some of these issues and maybe intervene before it’s too late with the next generation, we can make sure we have a next generation,” he said.

In workforce training, Senator Norris helped win legislative approval of the governor’s proposal for increased funding for the state’s colleges of applied technology, which teach technical skills for the workplace matching them to local job needs.  He also sponsored the Tennessee Promise program and the Reconnect Program, last-dollar scholarship programs which give all Tennesseans an opportunity to receive a degree or post-secondary credential tuition-free.

“The Annie E. Casey report reminds me of the canary in the coal mine. Our children’s well-being and our ability to nurture it is a harbinger. We can rise to this challenge just as we’ve done in other ways in the past. We are doing better in Tennessee, but we must do better still,” he said.



Morning Pointe "Makes Its Mark" Giving More Than 40,000 Hours For 20th Anniversary

The calendar year 2017 was about paying it forward, as Morning Pointe Senior Living celebrated its 20 th anniversary in a big way. The Chattanooga-based senior health care company has spent the past 12 months engaging with communities across the Southeast through volunteerism, setting a goal to give back 20,000 hours of service through the “Make Your Mark” campaign. As part ... (click for more)

Erlanger Nearing Deal To Acquire Hospital In Murphy, N.C.

Erlanger Health Systems is nearing a deal to acquire a hospital in Murphy, N.C. Both the boards of Murphy Medical Center and Erlanger are slated to vote to approve this agreement next week.    The Murphy Medical Center board votes  next Tuesday  and Erlanger’s trustees vote on the agreement at  next Thursday’s  board meeting,  Jan. 25 . (click for more)

Supreme Court Sets Execution Date For Billy Ray Irick, Convicted In 1985 Rape And Murder Of 7-Year Old Paula Dyer

The Tennessee Supreme Court set an execution date of  Aug. 9, 2018 , for Billy Ray Irick, who was convicted of the 1985 murder and rape of Paula Kay Dyer, age 7, in Knox County, Tn. The Court received notice from the State Attorney General on January 11, 2018, that the United States Supreme Court had denied the defendant’s appeal challenging the constitutionality of Tennessee’s ... (click for more)

1 Person Injured In Duplex Fire In East Lake Wednesday Night

One person was injured when fire broke out in a duplex Wednesday night in East Lake. The Chattanooga Fire Department received the alarm at  11:53  p.m. on  Wednesday  and responded to the 4800 block of General Thomas Boulevard with several fire companies. When the first firefighters arrived on the scene, Captain Chris Cordes with Engine 9 said a significant ... (click for more)

Thank You, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Thank you, Dr. King for stepping-out.  Thank you for your lasting voice to what it's all about. Thank you, Dr. King for  stepping up and also showing-up, ...when decisions were being made and  your refusal  to shut-up.  We find your fingerprints on both directions and toward progress.  your modeling, mentoring,  and reactions helps ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: This Is Not A Drill

Last Saturday morning in paradise, at 8:07 to be precise, an alert appeared on every cell phone that read: “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.” I can envision no greater horror than having to ask myself how much time do I have, and what is the wisest way to spend it? It was a long and dreadful 38 minutes until the correction ... (click for more)