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Keep the Northeast Region in Mind After Powerful Storms Strike

East Tennessee yesterday experienced strong thunderstorms, high winds, large hail, and unconfirmed tornadoes. According to TEMA, the storms destroyed homes in at least four East Tennessee counties and left more than 30,000 people without power.

Lucretia Sanders, the Northeast Regional Administrator, was affected by the strong storms. Lucretia’s father-in-law lost the roof on his house and an equipment shed. The lumber and siding were found several miles away. It took her family three hours with the help of law enforcement and Emergency Response Team to get the road cleared and power lines cleaned up. No one was injured.

All of our foster children, children in custody and DCS staff are safe in the region. Please think about our friends during this time. To those who have been affected by the horrible storm, I extend to you my hopes for peace, comfort, and a return to normalcy in your lives.

To read more about the storm recovery, please refer to TEMA’s website.

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South Central COA Exit

While it has been inspiring to hear the COA reviewers’ comments after each of our previous regional site visits, it was special to hear the excellent feedback of the South Central offices Wednesday. Lisa Williamson led her team as they showed a trio of reviewers through the entirety of the work that takes place in the South Central region. As also heard in the previous regional site visits, the region does an outstanding job on Continuous Quality Improvement, Child Family Team Meetings, and Training. However, here are some comments from the reviewers at the exit interview that made South Central’s regional visit remarkably special:

On Juvenile Justice: “The staff is wonderful… they go above and beyond. No question there is a relationship between the worker and the family/child. Workers stand on their heads literally trying to keep parents and families involved. Staff is quick to do that first conversation even if that means in court right after. I saw more documentation… there was a format the staff used. From the format, you could get a picture of what happened between the worker and the parent and the child in that visit. I first saw this format in Upper Cumberland last week, but I saw it more here. It’s much better… the documentation is much better than I’ve seen anywhere else. ”

"I see your commitment in keeping siblings placed together. It is fantastic that you have such a high rate in sibling placement.  

"The well-being team was excellent… really, really good program. When you are strong, you are strong.”

On Diligence Search: “You are using technology great by contacting parents and family members. In one case, you were able to contact a lady in Mexico and communicate with her. ”

“Your personnel files are consistent. I looked at your evaluations and that piece is pretty amazing to me. I looked back six or seven years, and every record I looked at had an evaluation for each of those years. It is impressive to see documentation of workers interacting with other staff. That job plan is not seen in other places, and you are commended for having it.”

Thanks, everyone for your hard work on accreditation! Great job!image

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New on our site, TNDCS.org, a column by Susan Broderick an Assistant Research Professor & Project Director, Center for Juvenile Justice Reform for Georgetown University’s Public Policy Institute.

She is a consultant to the Department of Children’s Services Three Branches Institute.


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75 youth in foster care received free, brand name clothes for school via the nonprofit group Together We Rise, which travels across the country to deliver the clothing.

Watch these great TV news segments: http://bit.ly/1kYedWp and http://bit.ly/1x6VddH

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This week, I traveled with other staff to New York to meet with Children’s Rights, Inc., the plaintiffs in the Brian A. lawsuit.  

We continued discussions about establishing compliance with a number of provisions of the settlement agreement.  The meeting was very productive, and Children’s Rights recognizes the significant progress the Department has made over the last year. 

We are encouraged by the collaborative discussion and look forward to continuing to work with Children’s Rights and the Technical Assistance Committee to move toward a successful exit from the lawsuit. 

More importantly, we appreciate the opportunity to share the great work being done by our staff across the state.

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100% Off the Legacy Network

The legacy network located in North Data Center has reached end of life and is being decommissioned.  Prior to decommissioning the legacy network in NDC, all remaining systems and system dependencies had to be migrated to the new network in either NDC or to South Data Center. This migration to new hardware not only increases performance and reliability, but also allows DCS to cut costs through consolidating resources and decommissioning those resources that are no longer needed.   

DCS was one of only two agencies that completed the majority of the migrations or decommissions on their own and was the third largest agency in terms of number of servers, 65 in total, needing to be migrated, consolidated, or decommissioned. DCS Office of Technology staff have been working on this project since September 2013 and submitted the paperwork on July 16th to finally close the project after hitting 100% completion.

A huge thanks goes out to Bruce Zimmer, Mohammed Ibrahimi, and Tejas Dholakia as they were the driving force behind this project and have put in countless hours to see it to completion. Way to go guys.

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Kids to Love Helps Foster Youth Get Ready for School

It is always a joy to share stories of how our staff, private providers, and community partners go above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of our youth in foster care.

Today, South Central DCS staff is picking up over 400 backpacks from the Huntsville-based nonprofit Kids to Love Foundation. Kids to Love supplies foster children in South Central with backpacks each year, as well as Christmas gifts. Three of our youth in South Central are also receiving scholarships this year from Kids to Love at the Annual Scholarship Luncheon to be held July 31 in Huntsville.   

The mission of Kids to Love is to meet the needs of foster children while they wait for permanent homes. Lee Marshall began the Kids to Love Foundation in 2004, and the organization has directly impacted the lives of more than 100,000 foster children. Kids to Love’s ultimate goal is to “find forever families for children who are waiting to be adopted.”

Lee is a former foster child who was adopted through the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home in Memphis. She is now an Emmy award-winning journalist with WHNT 19 in Huntsville and is committed to advocacy on behalf of foster children everywhere. 

Even though they are located in Huntsville, Kids to Love helps the South Central region with backpacks and Christmas presents for children in foster care each year.

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The Office of Child Safety hosted a day long retreat “How Do We Achieve Excellence in Child Safety”, which brought together the investigations regional leadership for the first time since the CPS roll out. 

The Investigations Coordinators (IC’s) and Program Coordinators joined staff from Central Office to discuss leadership, conduct a SWOT Analysis and to share updates from the five divisions in OCS as well as across the regions. 

The discussions were productive and insightful as issues were addressed and priorities set for the upcoming months.   

At the end of the day, one of the IC’s summed it up best by saying “ I left today feeling so supported and feeling like everything we did and discussed was relevant. It’s not often the we get the opportunity to participate in something that we can take back and share that will actually directly impact how we do our work.”

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The third CPS Investigator Training Academy graduated yesterday at the TBI.
The spirit of the staff’s hard work was captured in the words of TBI Special Agent in Charge Kim Harmon who called the work DCS and TBI investigators do a “noble cause.” She also added:"You deal with victims who have no voice and you go in without the tools we (TBI) have. That is noble."
Congratulations to our dedicated, hard-working and committed Child Protective Services staff.

The third CPS Investigator Training Academy graduated yesterday at the TBI.

The spirit of the staff’s hard work was captured in the words of TBI Special Agent in Charge Kim Harmon who called the work DCS and TBI investigators do a “noble cause.” She also added:

"You deal with victims who have no voice and you go in without the tools we (TBI) have. That is noble."

Congratulations to our dedicated, hard-working and committed Child Protective Services staff.

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This note came to Mid-Cumberland RA Lisa Brookover from Shannon Romans, Rutherford County Social Services Team Leader:

"I would like to recognize Ali Brislin an FSW as well as the generous staff in the Rutherford County office who helped make this event possible.  We got a young lady in custody a couple of weeks ago who is 8-months pregnant.  She has no family and had no supplies for her baby.  Ali organized for a baby shower to be held at the 15-day meeting for this young lady and I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of gifts from staff in the Rutherford County office.  Stephanie Sexton was able to get a cake donated for the shower as well. 

The young lady was very surprised and appreciative of all the gifts and now she is ready for her baby! 

It is amazing to see the generosity of those around you when a need is presented!”