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CAI Holds Congressional Briefing to Unveil New Report:

Shame on U.S.
Failings by All Three Branches of Our Federal Government Leave
Abused and Neglected Children Vulnerable to Further Harm
January 27, 2015

The federal government's dereliction allows states to fall short on meeting minimum child welfare standards. Below is information specific to Tennessee:

CFSR Results Summary: In its Child and Family Services Review (CFSR) process, HHS determines whether each state is in substantial conformity with 7 specific outcomes (pertaining to the areas of safety, permanency and family and child well-being) and 7 systemic factors (relating to the quality of services delivered to children and families and the outcomes they experience).  In the first two rounds of the CFSR, HHS has concluded that Tennessee was:

Round 1 (2002)

  • NOT in substantial conformity with 7 of the 7 Outcomes
  • NOT in substantial conformity with 3 of the 7 Systemic Factors

Round 2 (2009)   

  • NOT in substantial conformity with 7 of the 7 Outcomes
  • NOT in substantial conformity with 2 of the 7 Systemic Factors

Although federal law mandates that any state found not to be operating in substantial conformity during an initial or subequent review must begin a full review within two years after approval of the state's program improvement plan, HHS has announced that Tennessee will not undergo Round 3 of the CFSR until FY 2017 (see CFSR Technical Bulletin #7 (March 2014)).

Documents from the U.S. Health & Human Services Children's Bureau

Child Welfare Litigation*

  • Brian A. v. Haslam
    In 2000, Children’s Rights, along with a team of local counsel in Nashville, Knoxville and Memphis, brought this legal reform campaign against Tennessee’s then-Governor Donald Sundquist and then-Commissioner George Hattaway of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (DCS) in their official capacities. The suit was filed on behalf of a class of all children in foster care who are or will be in the custody of DCS, alleging defendants’ systemic failure to protect Tennessee’s most vulnerable children and to provide them with legally required services. The suit also brought a claim on behalf of African-American children in foster care, asserting failures to provide protection and services and the harmful impact on children of color. The parties settled the case in 2001 and the court approved a settlement agreement that aimed at vastly improving the infrastructure at DCS and outcomes for children. However, by 2003, DCS had made very little progress. Children’s Rights asked the court to intervene, and as a result, the parties reached a stipulation in late 2003. It required DCS to work with a court-appointed panel of five national child welfare experts known as the Technical Assistance Committee (TAC). The TAC was charged with advising on the implementation of the settlement agreement and monitoring DCS performance. DCS subsequently made great strides to improve the child welfare system, and as a result, the parties filed a Modified Settlement Agreement and Exit Plan which recognizes the state’s progress and sets out the specific requirements needed in order for Tennessee to successfully complete the court-ordered improvements and end court involvement. Children’s Rights has remained very active and has continued to advocate for reform in concert with the TAC. For more information, visit the website of Children's Rights.

*litigation summary taken from information provided by the website of Children's Rights

Child Welfare In the News**

  • Supreme Court Rules Law Does Not Require DCS To Prove Attempt To Reunite Families (The Chattanoogan - January 22, 2015) The Tennessee Supreme Court held Thursday that the Tennessee statute governing termination of parental rights does not require the Tennessee Department of Children's Services to prove as an essential element of its case that it made reasonable efforts to reunite the child with the parent (or parents) before the parent's rights can be terminated.
  • The 'State of the Child' in Tennessee (Includes audio)
    Public News Service - December 04, 2014
    The state of the child in Tennessee could be stronger, and a new KIDS COUNT report says that will require a greater focus on those most important early years. Research shows the vast majority of a child's brain development comes by age five. Linda O'Neal, executive director with the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, says that means efforts need to be targeted toward those young kids.

**news summaries taken from daily newsfeed service of HHS' Child Welfare Information Gateway



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Children's Advocacy Institute
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