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Anonymous child abuse reports accounted for 10 percent of all reports in 2002.

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Tennessee CPS News Archive

Tennessee News Coverage

by Bonnie Beneke

Considerable attention has been paid to the Department of Children's Services in recent weeks. If that attention raises awareness and increases interest among Tennesseans about the challenges faced by thousands of professionals who deal with heartbreaking

Right now, precious little of what occurs on the front lines of children's services is understood or appreciated, and attention is usually reserved for what's broadly termed a "failure in the system." To be fair, that's understandable.

November 18, 2012

by Kristen Kindoll

Safe Haven Family Shelter held its eighth annual Hike for the Homeless Nov. 3 at Edwin Warner Park. The "Home-schoolers Helping the Homeless" team raised $1,365 and counting.

Safe Haven Family Shelter ( is the only shelter program that serves the whole family in the Middle Tennessee community. Their mission for the past 25 years has been to keep a family together and provide services that will lead toward self-sufficiency. In addition to the emergency housing, there is a transitional housing and a rapid housing program offered through the nonprofit organization.

November 14, 2012

by Tony Gonzalez

The dysfunctional computer software used by the Tennessee Department of Children's Services to keep track of abused and neglected children will undergo another review.

The software has caused skipped payments to foster parents and has not been able to produce numerous reports, including about child fatalities and case manager workloads. The system has already been audited by the Tennessee comptroller and through an internal department assessment. DCS officials said they are spending $3.96 million to fix the $27 million system, and considering whether to ask for money back from the contractor, Dynamics Research Corporation, that created the software.

November 14, 2012

by Tony Gonzalez

The Tennessee Department of Children's Services wants an additional $5.6 million in state funds next fiscal year, in part to hire more case managers - and case managers with better qualifications - to work with abused and neglected children.

Gov. Bill Haslam, who questioned DCS senior staffers during the one-hour hearing, did not commit to the proposal, although he said earlier this year that he thought DCS case workers were underpaid and overworked.

November 8, 2012

by Anita Wadhwani

The Knoxville nonprofit that Department of Children's Services Commissioner Kate O'Day led for 10 years amassed numerous state rule violations before she left the agency, according to records obtained by The Tennessean.

Some of the violations that occurred while O'Day was CEO of Child and Family Tennessee were minor - personnel files missing dates that reference checks were completed - but others were far more serious. On March 15, 2010, just nine months before becoming Gov. Bill Haslam's pick to lead the state's child welfare agency, O'Day was put on notice that DCS had "concerns for the safety and well-being of custodial youths placed at Child and Family Tennessee."

November 8, 2012

by Tony Gonzalez

As a child who grew up in state foster care, Jennifer Rhodes knew that turning 18 and finally gaining her independence could also put her on a lonely, difficult path.

She had two options. Go it alone or accept more help. The help came with strings attached - more rules and regimens in a program that would help her transition into adulthood. Still, she took it, and a year later she realized her decision was the right one. The state applied to join a federal program that helps pay for services for foster kids until age 21.

November 4, 2012

by Trevor Aaronson & John O'Connor & Kate Howard Perry

Student-teacher ratios at K12, the nation's largest online educator, are nearly twice as high as Florida's state-run virtual school.

A high school teacher working for K12 may have as many as 275 students, compared to Florida Virtual School, which has a maximum class size of 150. According to company documents, K12 provides better student-teacher ratios to schools that pay more per student, though even the best ratios are higher than the state-run competitor's. K12 has come under fire for high student-teacher ratios and poor student performance in Arizona, Georgia and Tennessee.

October 6, 2012

by The Commercial Appeal and Memphis Commercial Appeal

Tennessee and its child welfare agency, the state Department of Children's Services, remain under judicial oversight 12 years after national child advocates filed a federal class-action lawsuit alleging systemic failures in care for abused children.

DCS is continuing to work on several court-ordered reforms, overseen by U.S. Dist. Judge Todd Campbell in Nashville.

July 16, 2012

by Alex Coleman

(Memphis) In the shadows of the Raleigh Village Apartments on Yale, Lawrence Scott and his wife, Trina Tilson, watch their grandson, Brandon, and their daughter, Kyra Mae, play.

Their home is just across the street from where Shakara Dickens lived, the mother whose now admitted killing her daughter, Lauryn. Tilson said, "Any crime against children bothers me. There are other options if you feel overwhelmed as a parent contacting Child Protective Services, the Department of Human Services and even a trusted family member."

June 22, 2012

by Bill Haslam

When the state of Tennessee takes custody of a child, it assumes a huge responsibility for the child's future. While the state never can replace a parent, it can take responsible steps give a child every opportunity to succeed in life.

That's why recent legislation signed by Gov. Bill Haslam extending foster care services beyond age 18 is the right thing to do. Under Tennessee law, when children in state custody reach age 18, they become adults and are free to move on with their lives. But making the transition from foster care to independent living can be a daunting task. To whom do these young adults turn for support?

June 22, 2012

by Kristen Kindoll

Last week's article featured couples in which both work outside the home in some capacity while still home-schooling their children. This week's column takes a look at single parents who home-school.

Chad Beadles is the primary caregiver to his two children, ages 7 and 16. He works full time, online, at his home. The children attended public schools in Williamson County and found the experience very rewarding. But with a change in their family circumstances, Beadles said, he felt it was best to teach within a home setting.

June 20, 2012

by Shawn Martin

A mother in Tennessee is facing felony child abuse and neglect charges after an incident involving her 5-year-old and 8-year-old children last week.

When the kids didn't return for awhile, she got worried. She walked up to the park. When she found the kids weren't there, she called 911. The children reportedly ended up at a neighbor's house. When police showed up they put in kids with Child Protective Services and put Lawson in jail for the night. Do you think she should be charged?

June 13, 2012

Extreme temperatures cause many health risks for children such as sunburn, heatstroke, dehydration, brain damage and even death.

The Tennessee Department of Human Services encourages state child care agencies to heighten preventative measures to keep children safe when transporting them during the summer months. On an 80-degree day the temperature inside a locked vehicle increases 19 degrees in just 10 minutes; 29 degrees in 20; and 43 degrees in just one hour. For any human being subjected to such excessive extremes, the experience could prove fatal.

June 13, 2012

Country artist Jimmy Wayne felt a different type of pressure when he sat down to speak in front of a panel of state lawmakers in February.

Wayne appeared before the House Family and Consumer Affairs Committee that day to support House Bill 2337, which permanently extended the state's policy allowing young adults in foster care to continue and transition out of the program when they turn 21. While he had spoken with passion on the subject before, this moment seemed unique.

May 24, 2012

by Heather Mullinix

The Cumberland County Board of Education approved the second and final reading of a home school policy Thursday.

The approved policy retains language that bars home schooled students from participating in school-sponsored extracurricular activities. Jim Blalock, 8th District representative, said, "If they do not want our teachers to teach them, why in the world do they want the same people to coach them?"

February 23, 2012

by Greg Kaylor

A man accused of aggravated child abuse entered a guilty plea in Bradley County Criminal Court last week and will serve more than 13 years in prison

In an unrelated case, another man awaits trial after being charged with alleged Internet sex crimes. Thomas Bennett was scheduled to go to trial last week but entered a plea, according to Stephen Hatchett of the 10th Judicial District Attorney General's Office.

January 22, 2012

by Kelli Kennedy

MIAMI (AP) - For decades, it was common for officials around the country to approve foster parents by room and board criteria: Did they pass a background check? Is their home clean? Are their dogs safe and vaccinated?

Now several states including Florida, California and Wisconsin are trying to find ones who they know upfront will help with homework, sew Halloween costumes and accompany kids to doctor appointments. Complicating the efforts is the longtime problem of finding enough adults to house children in need.

CNS News

December 31, 2011

by Kristen Kindoll

The Brentwood Library is offering a present that can be used all year for home-schoolers. Patricia Rua-Bashir is heading up a story time for home-schooling families.

Patricia Rua-Bashir, children services programmer, explains the reason for creating a specific group for home-schoolers. "We have a rather large home-schooling community in Brentwood and the surrounding suburbs that has expressed the need for programs designed to help with their educational needs."

December 28, 2011

For a family of two parents and five children, giving them experiences such as the zoo, vacations, movies and eating out is limited by the costs to the family.

Youth come into foster care every day from abusive and neglectful homes. Our foster parents selflessly give time, energy and financial support to these children to provide them the basic food, shelter, safety and love that they need. But we all know that growth and development does not stop there. Family activities, social experiences, and education are many things that foster care youth have had little or no access to.

December 6, 2011

by Mary Jo Denton

COOKEVILLE -- She needed new shoes to wear to a job interview, an alleged shoplifter told police last week. It happened at Kohl's Department store on W. Jackson Street on November 3, says a report by Cookeville Police Officer Shannon Smith.

Store officials told the officer that Pierce had been shopping in the store and that she took off her shoes, placed them into a shoe box from the store shelf, and put on a pair of new black high heels and walked out without paying. "She stated she needed the shoes to wear to a job interview and said she planned on bringing the shoes back after the interview," the report says.

November 8, 2011

by Steve White

Six lawyers who are used to arguing cases before a judge today made the case that they should be the area's next judge. Judge David Bush retired this spring in Grand Island.

Former Hall County Attorney Jerry Janulewicz was chosen by random order to speak first. He outlined his career, which started as a foster care case worker. He didn't plan on being a lawyer, but went to law school and has worked as a prosecutor and private practice defense lawyer. He has worked with the drug court, and has civil law experience.

October 12, 2011

by Albert Momjian

Interesting Court Cases dealing with custody, child support, etc... Three recent cases, one in Tennessee and two in Florida, are illustrative. So, for no other reason than they are interesting, let me tell you about these three cases.

The interesting part of this case is the dilemma in which trial courts sometimes place parents by asking the parent who wants to relocate what he or she will do if permission to relocate the child is denied. What is that parent supposed to say? There is no good answer to this question. If the answer is that the relocation will be abandoned, then how likely is it that permission to relocate will be granted? If the answer is that the relocation will take place nevertheless, then how likely is it that permission to relocate will be granted?

September 23, 2011

Chattanooga Police have arrested a home health care nurse for assault against her four-year-old patient.

Child Protective Services was also notified of the incident. The child was left in the care of his father following the nurse's arrest.

August 19, 2011

by Meg Veal

A 14-year-old home schooler wants to play football for Walker Valley High this fall, and the Bradley County School Board is slated to rule on his request on Thursday.

All four of the secondary principals said they are against allowing the homeschoolers. Danny Coggin, Walker Valley principal, said he has 1,546 students and they are the most important to him. Todd Shoemaker, principal of Bradley Central, said of his 1,740 students the football players wear their letterman jackets with pride. "It's not just about Friday night," he said. The middle school principals agreed.

August 9, 2011

by Lucas Mearian

After 57 hard drives were stolen in 2009, potentially exposing the personal data of more than a million members, BlueCross BlueShield (BCBS) of Tennessee announced today that it has completed a $6 million project that encrypts all at-rest data.

The company said it spent more than 5,000 man-hours on the encryption effort, which encompassed about 885TB of at-rest data. BCBS said it is now encrypting all data on 1,000 Windows, AIX, SQL, VMware and Xen server hard drives; 6,000 workstation hard drives and removable media drives; 136,000 tape backup volumes; and 25,000 voice call recordings per day.

July 28, 2011

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