Report Finds Some Backsliding On Tennessee’s Foster Care Goals

DCS trainer Todd Love teaches caseworkers about "practical engagement." Credit: DCS / via Facebook

DCS trainer Todd Love teaches caseworkers about “practical engagement.” Credit: DCS / via Facebook

Independent monitors of Tennessee’s Department of Children’s Services say progress on the foster care system stalled in 2012. The annual report is part of a 13-year-old court case known as “Brian A.” 

Steady improvement was being made on the settlement benchmarks, like keeping kids close to their hometowns and avoiding breaking up sibling groups.

But 2012 was a step backwards. For instance, nearly three-quarters of foster children had no written plan for how they would support themselves after leaving the system.

Ira Lustbader heads the advocacy group Children’s Rights, which originally sued the state.

“You can see how just the failure to even plan for these things could just have devastating impact when these kids – what they call – age out, and leave.”

Lustbader also points to problems with abused children. Only 60 percent of kids were seen within 24 hours.

The annual report only covers 2012, when ousted DCS commissioner Kathryn O’Day was still in charge. Newly appointed chief Jim Henry gets good marks from the panel which says he moved quickly to fix problems like tracking child deaths “with openness and transparency.”

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