Glitches Aside, DCS Asks for $5M Extra Next Year

Tennessee’s Department of Children’s Services is asking for millions of dollars to hire more social workers and lawyers, and give raises to its investigators. DCS has been under fire, for among other things struggling to track required data on kids in its custody.

A glitchy new computer system has confounded workers, and threatened to land DCS back in court when it couldn’t produce data required under the Brian A. legal settlement.

Commissioner Kathryn O’Day assured Governor Bill Haslam her department will be caught up on it within the next few months. O’Day said afterward nobody wants that data more than DCS.

“To manage an organization of this size, and this complexity, and all the things that are going on, we need good data. We would be looking for this whether there were court monitors or not, legislature or not.”

O’Day is requesting more than five million extra state dollars for next year. Governor Haslam has hinted he thinks protective-services workers should be paid more, but he’s also told departments to prepare slimmer budgets.

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Asked how she might address critics reluctant to give extra money to a department seen as under-performing, O’Day said:

“I think most people would agree that investing in child-protective services is a wise investment.”

A DCS official explained their request for more payroll dollars for Child Protection Services would raise pay for 192 workers from $2,978 to $3,099 monthly. Right now DCS has 983 child-protection jobs, and is asking for 29 more.

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