Tennessee Department Of Children’s Services Finally Free Of Court Oversight

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Governor Bill Haslam and Commissioner Bonnie Hommrich on Tuesday announced that after more than 16 years of system-wide reform and "a massive turnaround," the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (DCS) is now free of federal court oversight.

 

U.S. District Court Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw has approved the agreement between the state and Children’s Rights, the New York-based advocacy group that in 2000 filed litigation known as the Brian A.

lawsuit that charged that Tennessee youth in foster care suffered in an overburdened system, describing children in crowded congregate care shelters and social workers with overwhelming caseloads.

 

State officials said, "Tennessee now has a thoroughly reformed foster care system. The reform comes after years of collaboration with Children’s Rights and the Technical Assistance Committee, a panel of nationally recognized child welfare experts that served as the federal court monitor for the Brian A. consent decree."

 

“This is monumental for Tennessee’s children and the state. After years of intervention, the federal government is saying that Tennessee is providing service to children in a way that models what it should look like for the rest of the country,” Governor Haslam said.

 

“This stage in our journey represents the hard work, commitment and innovation it has taken to get here. So on behalf of our children, families, staff and partners, I can say that we’re just thrilled and thankful,” Commissioner Hommrich said. “But the work goes on. We will always have tough problems before us. At DCS, we promise to bring our full energy and attention to whatever lies ahead, and we will use the same focus and dedication that has brought us to this point today.”

 

The reform follows intense work with a wide range of institutions, including Tennessee’s private provider network, the state’s leading universities, the University of Chicago’s Chapin Hall Center for Children, the state’s juvenile courts and the Tennessee General Assembly, it was stated.

 

DCS achieved its court-required performance during 2015, and the Brian A. agreement stipulated that Tennessee maintain that performance throughout 2016.

 

Highlights of the department’s reform include:

  • Among the nearly 140 foster-care benchmarks DCS achieved are measures of time to reunification, time to adoption, re-entry into the foster-care system, length of time in placement, parent-and-child visits and case-manager caseloads.

  • DCS emphasizes family-style placement for youth in foster care, in place of institutional settings such as orphanages.

  • DCS has become a national leader in timeliness to adoption and in implementing a child-and-family teaming model that encourages birth parents, case managers, care providers and foster families to work together on behalf of a child.

  • DCS has developed a process that has put the department on a path to a more professional workforce, with bachelor’s and master’s degree programs for case managers and supervisors.

  • DCS has built a robust, modern case-management computer system, TFACTS, that handles everything from case notes, management tools to billing days. It replaced a patchwork of computer systems that did not always work together reliably.

  • Although not a Brian A. requirement, DCS has achieved re-accreditation by the Council on Accreditation. Tennessee is one of the few states in the nation accomplish this.

  • Tennessee is the first state in the U.S. to offer independent living services to 100 percent of the youth who age out of foster care. This program is an outgrowth of pioneering work with private provider Youth Villages.

 

Today there are approximately 7,300 children in Tennessee foster care. The department is also responsible for the approximately 1,100 youth who comprise the state’s juvenile-justice population. These youth were not part of the Brian A. suit.



Parkridge Bone And Joint Orthopedic Surgeon To Present Partial Knee Replacement Success At International Medical Conference

Orthopedic surgeon and founding member of Parkridge Bone & Joint, Martin Redish, MD, has been selected from among a host of international surgeons to present at the biennial THE Partial Knee Meeting in Bruges, Belgium, on Jan. 25.    Dr. Redish will present his published work describing the results of partial knees performed on patients over a four-year period ... (click for more)

Free Smoking Cessation Course Begins Feb. 1 At CHI Memorial

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates more than 16 million Americans live with a disease caused by smoking. It is the leading cause of preventable death, according to the American Lung Association.   CHI Memorial’s Rees Skillern Cancer Institute will offer a free seven-week Freedom From Smoking program that begins Feb. 1.  The program helps participants ... (click for more)

Woman Who Took Truck Driver's Blood At Tragic Wreck Scene: "It Was Like Nothing Had Happened"

The woman who took a blood draw from a Kentucky truck driver who had just wrecked and claimed six lives said, "I was thrown by his demeanor. It was like nothing had happened." Lisa Martin told a jury from Nashville on Monday afternoon that Benjamin Scott Brewer kept asking when he could go home. Brewer was eventually allowed to leave, but was later charged and is facing trial ... (click for more)

Taji Webb, 26, Shot And Killed Monday Night; Shooter Will Not Be Charged

Taji Webb, 26, was shot and killed Monday night. Police said they have determined that the shooting was justified and the unidentified shooter would not be charged.   The Chattanooga Police Department responded at 10:43 p.m. to a person shot call in the 1500 block of Ryan Street .  Upon arrival, officers located Webb lying on the ground suffering from a gunshot ... (click for more)

General Bell: This Government Shutdown Is Outrageous - And Response (3)

The day before yesterday two Army Apache Attack Helicopter pilots were killed in a crash during training at Fort Irwin, Ca.  The pilots and their unit were preparing for a future deployment to combat operations.    As a result of the government shutdown, none of the spouses or families of these pilots will receive a dime from the United States Government in immediate ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Making A Difference

It was about 50 years ago when the late writer Loren Eiseley penned an essay called “The Starfish Thrower” so it’s been one of my favorite stories for almost as long. It tells about a man who walks up to a young boy on a beach, this just after a strong storm had washed hundreds of helpless starfish onto the shore. The boy was picking up the stranded starfish and, one at a time, ... (click for more)