I, along with some of my senior staff, traveled to St. Louis, Mo. earlier this week to visit with our counterparts at the Missouri Division of Youth Services. We studied Missouri’s Juvenile Justice model, one that is nationally recognized as a successful model for getting kids’ lives on track.
We made a special visit to the Hogan Street Regional Youth Center, which is Missouri’s most secure facility. Missouri uses various programs from the moment a youth comes into care and carries throughout the time the youth is at the facility. Missouri’s therapeutic approach is advanced and developed.
I am always open to looking at other models to find ways we can improve our systems here in Tennessee.
Happy Adoption Day to Amir and his family. On Monday, Amir Huff was adopted in Sevier County.
Best wishes and special thanks to the staff who worked with this family.
I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone at DCS for their hard, dedicated work over the past year and a half in getting us back on track in the Brian A. consent decree.
On Wednesday, Tennessee’s Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children celebrated their twenty-five year anniversary and hosted their annual meeting at the Nashville Public Library. CASA is a nonprofit organization established to support the development, growth and continuation of programs, which recruit and train volunteers to serve as advocates representing the best interests of abused and neglected children. The most important goal of Tennessee CASA is to provide a CASA volunteer for every child in Tennessee who needs one by the year 2020.
During the annual meeting, CASA presented the Champion for Children Award and the Light of Hope Award to two individuals that stood out above the rest in their dedication to serving the children of Tennessee.
The Champion for Children Award goes to an individual that exemplifies the word “champion.” A champion is defined as a person who fights or argues for a cause on behalf of someone else. Our very own DCS Director of Independent Living, Michael Leach, was the recipient of the Champion for Children Award. We could not be more proud of Michael.
As best said by Lynne Farrar, Executive Director of CASA,”Youth in care are not just a number to Michael Leach; he takes the time to listen and find creative solutions to the many challenges facing our youth. He may not be able to solve every problem, but he will work to find the answer. He finds a way to say ‘yes’ to help in some way with every child. His optimism and determination improves the lives of young people. This is why Michael Leach is the champion for children.” Congratulations, Michael!
We also want to congratulate Tawny Spinelli as the recipient of the Light of Hope Award. Tawny serves as the Children’s Cabinet Assistant Director and the Tennessee Young Child Wellness Coordinator.
In this photo, below: Lynne Farrar, TN CASA Executive Director, Tawny Spinelli, Mike Leach and Charlie Davenport, TN CASA Board President.