A state lawmaker is calling for the resignation of Department of Children’s Services Commissioner Kathryn O’Day. DCS has been struggling to keep track of information on kids in its custody, and Nashville Democrat Sherry Jones says she’s fed up.
Representative Jones argues little has improved at DCS since O’Day took over:
“Under her leadership the past two years, things are not getting better. They’re getting worse. And I have a lot more people coming to me with issues of children not eating, being hurt, and when I try to deal with the department on it, I get no response.”
Commissioner O’Day’s tenure has been plagued by a glitchy and complex new computer system, leading to headaches over legally-required data, as well as payments to foster parents.
At budgeting hearings on Thursday, O’Day assured the governor those problems will be ironed out within a few months, while asking for an extra five million dollars for next year’s budget.
Governor Bill Haslam defended O’Day, saying he knew her work in Knoxville when he was mayor there, and calling her smart and compassionate.
“Doing what Kate does is difficult work. And it’s easy to sit outside and say ‘oh, how did this happen.’ But when I have someone who really wants to make it work, is bright, looks around the country to find the best solutions, and cares about kids, I think that’s the right formula.”
Haslam says many of the problems at DCS, like the flawed computer system, were inherited. But he says O’Day does not use that as an excuse, is working to fix such problems, and will be a success because of that.