Friday, May 28, 2010

Politicking Protocol

Just a reminder that if you want to run for a partisan political office, you need to be mindful of the federal law known as the Hatch Act.

If you are going to be involved in any political campaigns, please take a look at the Tennessee law known as the Little Hatch Act (Tenn. Code Ann. 2-19-201 et seq).

In general, because our Agency receives federal funds, you cannot be a DCS employee and run for partisan political office.

If you think that your case is an exception, then you must get an advisory opinion from the federal Office of the Special Counsel for the Hatch Act (  and send the General Counsel's a copy of that opinion if in fact you meet one of the exceptions.

You should also remember that the Little Hatch Act prohibits state employees from displaying campaign literature, banners, signs, etc. on behalf on any candidate in places such as state buildings and on state vehicles. Again, if you have questions about this, contact the General Counsel's office.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

TFACTS Pilot: Not Launching Now

Mission Control elects to delay TFACTS pilot launch. Photo: NASA

The TFACTS Pilot Implementation activities will NOT proceed at this time. There are a number of issues that must be addressed before we can move forward, and it will take more time to complete them. 
 This means that TNKids and other current systems will not be coming down for conversion purposes. 

Please DO NOT start using procedures you have in place to account for system down time or data synchronization. More information will become available over the next few days regarding plans to resume TFACTS Pilot Implementation.

This message was approved by OIS Director Michael Bowie.

DCS Help Desk
Local:  615-741-4636
Toll free:  1-888-853-4636

Monday, May 24, 2010

The TFACTS Conversion: What To Expect

The Department of Children's Services (DCS) is replacing the current TNKIDS child-welfare system with a new SACWIS (System Automated Child Welfare Information System) named TFACTS, the Tennessee Family and Child Tracking System.  

TFACTS is a web-based platform that is replacing 12 legacy systems.  The new system will interface with multiple other agencies, including but not limited to, Edison, TennCare, SSA and Adopt-US-KIDS which plugs the state into an adoption support system across the United States.  TFACTS will also support the DCS Program's long-term vision of moving the state from a child-centric vision to a family-centric vision. 
TFACTS Pilot Conversion & Implementation:
* The TFACTS pilot implementation/conversion process will begin the week of May 24, 2010. 
* Tuesday evening (5/25), the process of bringing down the Legacy systems will begin.  (DCS_All messages will keep you informed of this activity.)
* During that implementation week, the TFACTS integrated project team will meet twice a day, at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. CST.  The team will discuss the progress of the activities required to convert data from the Legacy Systems and to implement TFACTS to the Pilot users. 
* Non-pilot users will receive communication once the Legacy systems are back up and available to them for their continued work in TNKids; this is currently expected sometime Thursday, May 27, 2010.  (A DCS_All message will alert DCS users when the Legacy systems are available.)

**Following the twice daily meetings with the integrated project team, I will send out a project status message to keep you all posted of our progress.  The message will include either the 10 a.m. or 5 p.m. CST status time and whether we are on schedule or behind, and if behind our planned catch-up schedule.  The status will be brief so as to simply make you aware of our progress.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions throughout this process.

The TFACTS project has been a huge undertaking and has required the efforts of many, many people across numerous agencies and across the state.  I would like to take this time to thank everyone for their time and support of the project.  All of the TFACTS accomplishments are due to your efforts.
Cynthia Coulter
TFACTS Project Director

Thursday, May 20, 2010

What the Flood Means to Adoption Records

The recent Nashville flood waters managed to find some of the state's vital records, specifically sealed adoption records and educational records which are stored in the State Records Center, Department of General Services.    

Here's what was damaged:
The State Records Center in Nashville had extensive flood damage where the water levels reached a depth of 5 feet. All of their office equipment was lost. All records on the first two shelves in the storage warehouse were damaged by water. Those records are being recovered by Belfor. Some of their shelving also collapsed, so that will have to be repaired as well. Adoption Records were stored high enough to remain dry except for one skid of boxes that were waiting to be put on shelves. These were records that Adoptions sealed and recently sent to the Records Center. General Services has already shrink-wrapped that skid and sent it Belfor for drying. Five boxes of education records also sustained water damage.

Here's the anticipated schedule for solving this problem

At this time, General Services Records Management can give no ETA on when the State Records Center will be operational. This means that any Education or Adoption Records stored there will be unretrievable for the foreseeable future. If we were to receive a court order to access a particular Adoption Record, Records Director Donna Bridges has assured us they will work with us to produce that box of records. Aside from special circumstances like this, all other request for records under normal business conditions will be placed on hold. Business resumption for the State Records Center is a three-phase process. 
Phase 1: Cleanup & decontamination of the records and storage areas. 
Phase 2: Resumption of retrieval of records. 
Phase 3: Resumption of accepting new records for storage. 

They are currently in Phase 1.

Here's what it means to those seeking adoption records:

Until the State Records Center is operational under Phase 2, Adoption Registration/ Post Adoption Services unit will be limited in its ability to access  sealed adoption records for service to requests from the Department and other administrative entities as well as the public. Requests will be accepted; written notice of the status will be documented and provided to the individual who requested on a case by case basis.
The Adoption Registration /Post-Adoption Services unit has prepared a letter to submit to individuals who have requested access to sealed adoption records of the impact and status of access.   
Adoption Registration/Post-Adoption Services unit will continue to accept closed adoption records per protocol from both DCS and the private sector, having established temporary alternate storage for all closed adoption records in the Cordell Hull.

Critical Information As We Prepare For TFACTS Pilot

We are rapidly approaching a very exciting and important time for the Department-we plan to launch the Pilot phase of the Tennessee Family and Child Tracking System on June 1, 2010. While the Mid Cumberland Region and other Pilot Participant sites will have the most to do with the new system, all current system users will be affected in some ways. One significant way deals with the need to ensure certain types of information are managed in TNKids and also in TFACTS throughout the duration of the Pilot.

Click on this link to obtain an essential document.

This document describes procedures to ensure that Person Information is kept up to date in both systems during TFACTS Pilot. It is critical that all TNKids users who update this type of information become very familiar with these procedures.

You will also receive additional instructions from your regional leadership regarding other tasks or activities necessary to prepare for TFACTS.

Commissioner Viola Miller

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The TFACTS Pilot Is Just Days Away

In just a few days we will launch the pilot of our shiny new case management system, TFACTS.  It has been a long and sometimes rocky road and the "fun" is just starting.  Let me assure you that I have been around a long time and have NEVER seen an IT pilot and rollout go totally smoothly.  It just doesn't happen.  We are a strong agency and we will work our way through this implementation if we all hang together and support each other.

Our pilot sites include Woodland Hills Youth Development Center, Central Intake, Special Investigative Unit and the Mid Cumberland Region.  We all owe them a debt of gratitude for their willingness to step up and be our "guinea pigs."  They will provide that front line of implementation which will be essential to our long-term success.

I encourage everyone in the DCS family to find some way to send words of encouragement to our colleagues involved in the pilot.  They will need our support and to know that we are there for them as they lead the charge for all of us.

I have no doubt in my mind that TFACTS implementation will be successful and that we will eventually love our new system.  I also have no doubt that there will be frustrations and angst as we proceed.

Our new system will truly support our model of service delivery and structure of the work as it is now done in DCS and that's good news.  Our system will be very different from TNKids and, like it or not, it's difficult to trade the familiar for the new.   We will learn and change together and we will be successful.

MY VERY BEST WISHES TO WHYDC, CI, SIU AND MID CUMBERLAND.  Thank you for what you are doing for our agency!!!

Commissioner Viola Miller

Friday, May 14, 2010

Flood Assistance

State Offering Assistance to Eligible Low-Income Flood Victims.

Download this file for more information:

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

AP: Russia, US reach accord on adoption deal

MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia and the United States have reached a new bilateral accord on adoptions and expect to sign it within two months, a senior Russian official said Wednesday.

Russia had demanded such an accord after a 7-year-old Russian boy was sent back to Moscow last month - alone on a one-way flight - by his adoptive American mother in Tennessee, creating an uproar in Russia. American adoption officials also were horrified at the drastic action taken by the mother and angry about its possible repercussions.

Russian officials say they want more control over U.S. adoptions of Russian children and the living conditions those children face in the United States.

Click to continue reading

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The TFACTS Knowledge Base: A New Way to Get TFACTS Information

What is the TFACTS Knowledge Base?
The TFACTS Knowledge Base is a web based application (leased by DCS from Omnistar Interactive, LLC) that provides a supplement to the knowledge already provided to support staff and users in the early stages of TFACTS implementation. It is a separate application from TFACTS, but will be available from TFACTS via a hyperlink in Online Help. You can also save the link directly to your Favorites.

How do I get to the TFACTS Knowledge Base?
Just click on the link, below!

Is this the only place to find information about TFACTS?
No, but it will be a central location for TFACTS Knowledge-related information. It is consolidating a lot of information either established in, or derived from, the following:
·         The TFACTS News! Website (FAQ’s, Discussion Guides)
·         Formal classroom training
·         Web Based Training
·         On Line Help
·         Users Guide
·         Quick Reference Guide
·         Use of the Practice database
       The TFACTS Knowledge Base will be updated continuously as we learn more about the TFACTS application and its use.

How is the TFACTS Knowledge Base organized?
TFACTS Knowledge Base articles and FAQ’s are arranged in a folder tree system, similar to Windows Explorer.  There are three (3) main folders, described below:
TFACTS: Most articles related to user support of TFACTS will be placed in the main category of TFACTS, and further broken down into one of several sub-categories (Help Desk, Training Parking Lot questions, General Info, etc.)
Flow Chart: This category contains TFACTS-related flow charts that include a step-by-step process. 
Policy and Practice: This category contains articles on policy/practice questions related to the TFACTS functional areas.
A detailed description of all categories currently available in the TFACTS Knowledge Base can be found in the expanded description document—just click on the link, below:
How do I find information in the TFACTS Knowledge Base, and can I provide feedback?
To view FAQs and knowledge articles contained in this tool, click the category that best describes the article you are looking for.  Users may search for a specific article by use of a keyword search.  To use the key word search, enter the key word in the Search Articles area and click Search.  Users can use the categories and sub-categories to limit your search for related articles.
Once the article is retrieved, you may view, print and email selected FAQs and knowledge articles.
After reviewing an article/FAQ, please provide information describing the value of each article you viewed.  This will allow us to keep the contents current and meaningful.
Users may also enter comments on the articles they have reviewed to the Knowledge Base Administrator at the TFACTS Help Desk.
Can I ask for, or contribute articles to, the TFACTS Knowledge Base?
Yes! Just follow the directions available via the link, below:
Who will maintain the TFACTS Knowledge Base?
Initially, the DRC and DCS Help Desk managers will jointly maintain the TFACTS Knowledge Base.  The TFACTS Communication Manager is maintaining the Policy and Practice information posted. Upon completion of the Help Desk transition activity, the DCS Help Desk manager will maintain the TFACTS Knowledge Base.  

Thursday, May 6, 2010

11 More

Bredesen Announces Disaster Declarations for 11 More Tennessee Counties

NASHVILLE – Governor Bredesen announced today the federal government has authorized a major disaster declaration for 11 additional Tennessee counties, bring the total number of counties declared to 21. This action makes federal assistance available to individuals in Carroll, Crockett, Decatur, Fayette, Gibson, Hardeman, Haywood, Henderson, Houston, Madison and Obion counties.

Bredesen asked President Obama on Monday to declare 52 counties federal disaster areas following the severe storms, tornadoes and flooding that struck the state over the weekend. Twenty-one counties have received declarations to date. In addition to the 11 announced today, counties previously authorized include Cheatham, Davidson, Dyer, Hickman, McNairy, Montgomery, Perry, Shelby, Tipton and Williamson.

Remember, There's Help Available

Maybe this would help you. Maybe not. 
Even if it wouldn't help you, it might be good for all of us to keep an eye out for some of our friends and co-workers who may be feeling overwhelmed right now.



The floods this weekend in Middle Tennessee have left many of us with lives disrupted and homes damaged.  If you haven’t experienced it directly, you probably have friends and family who have been impacted.  A flood can leave a trail of structural destruction, but what about the emotional impact? Feelings of grief, despair and frustration are normal reactions to such events.

Our EAP can assist with the emotional impact of this situation.  Counselors are available 24 hours a day, seven day a week to provide confidential assistance to you.  The toll free phone number is 1-800-308-4934.

Counselors are also available on a variety of topics including financial issues and legal consultation.  There is additional information, self-help tools and other resources are available online at 
Employee Assistance Program
Benefits Administration
W. R. Snodgrass Tennessee Tower

Thursday: Flood Woes at MetroPlex Knock Out Phones

Unfortunately the MetroPlex location is without phone service until probably early next week.  AT&T is working feverishly to get them back up and running but some their equipment is still underwater. 
If you need to contact members of the TFACTS staff, please use their Blackberries or email.

 - Eddie Rhodman's Office

Let's Turn on The Projector, Shall We?

Anyone out there PowerPointing?

In the interest of good communication skills, take a look here:

We Have Met the Enemy and He Is PowerPoint


No More Bullets, No More Clip Art

Davidson Flood Updates

CFA and the Menzler quads have power restored.  There is also phone service available those buildings.  There may be some intermittent power interruptions in the next few days as NES does permanent repairs to the lines, but they will do the repairs as quickly as possible.

The phones at Plus Park have also been restored. 
The Juvenile court liaisons are the only displaced group that will not be able to return to their building soon.  They are currently located at 900 Second Ave. North.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Dyer and Montgomery Added to President's Disaster Declaration

NASHVILLE – The federal government today authorized a major disaster declaration for two additional Tennessee counties. On Monday, Governor Phil Bredesen asked President Obama to declare 52 counties federal disaster areas following the severe storms, tornadoes and flooding that struck the state beginning Friday, April 30.

Today’s action makes federal funding available to individuals in Montgomery and Dyer Counties. Four counties – Cheatham, Davidson, Hickman and Williamson – were authorized yesterday.  Declarations for additional counties requested by the Governor are expected in coming days.

“President Obama and the federal government continue to move quickly in their response,” said Bredesen. “As people begin to rebuild their homes and their lives, this assistance will be an important resource for Tennesseans.”

Tennessee suffered 20 confirmed fatalities as a result of the extreme weather and flooding that struck the state April 30-May 2. Numerous nursing homes, apartment complexes and residences were evacuated due to rapidly rising waters and flash flooding. Water rescues and helicopter extractions were performed as flood waters rushed over hundreds of roads through cities, towns and neighborhoods. Many residents lost all of their possessions as homes were destroyed or sustained major damages.

Bredesen today toured northern Middle Tennessee, including Montgomery and Sumner Counties, and toured impacted areas of West and Middle Tennessee on Monday. FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate was in Tennessee and Bredesen also spoke by phone with President Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Monday, May 3.

The President's action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in the six counties authorized to date, including both individual and public assistance.

Individual assistance can include grants to help pay for temporary housing, home repairs and other serious disaster-related expenses. Public assistance is also available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for debris removal and emergency protective measures only at this time. In addition, federal funding is available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

Residents and business owners who sustained losses in the four designated counties can begin applying for assistance immediately by registering online at or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).

President Authorizes Disaster Assistance



NASHVILLE – The federal government today authorized a major disaster declaration for four Tennessee counties. Governor Phil Bredesen asked President Obama Monday to declare 52 counties federal disaster areas following the severe storms, tornadoes and flooding that struck the state beginning Friday, April 30.

Today’s action makes federal funding available to individuals in Cheatham, Davidson, Hickman and Williamson Counties while declarations for additional Tennessee counties are expected in coming days.

As a result of the extreme weather conditions, Tennessee suffered 19 confirmed fatalities. Numerous nursing homes, apartment complexes and residences were evacuated due to rapidly rising waters and flash flooding. Water rescues and helicopter extractions were performed as flood waters continue to rush over hundreds of roads through cities, towns and neighborhoods. Many residents lost all of their possessions as homes were destroyed or sustained major damages.

“The federal government has moved quickly to assist Tennessee and I appreciate the quick action by President Obama to declare the first of what I expect will be many counties authorized for federal assistance,” said Bredesen. “In addition to the state and local resources utilized in the initial response, I know all counties impacted by these devastating storms are anxious for assistance and access to the resources of the federal government.”

Bredesen toured impacted areas of West and Middle Tennessee on Monday, May 3. FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate was in Tennessee and Bredesen also spoke by phone with President Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Monday.

The President's action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in the four counties, including both individual and public assistance.

Individual assistance can include grants to help pay for temporary housing, home repairs and other serious disaster-related expenses. Public assistance is also available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for debris removal and emergency protective measures only at this time. In addition, federal funding is available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

Residents and business owners who sustained losses in the four designated counties can begin applying for assistance immediately by registering online at or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).

Wednesday's Building Closures

Here are the state building closures for Wednesday, May 5. Employees will also be able to go to the state's home page at and get updated information, as well as the home page for the Dept. of General Services.

State Facilities Closed Wednesday, May 5

  • All state buildings at Metro Center: Metro Center in Nashville remains closed and inaccessible.
  • Andrew Johnson, 710 James Robertson Parkway, Nashville.
  • Andrew Jackson, 500 Deaderick, Nashville.
  • Davy Crockett Tower, 500 James Robertson Parkway, Nashville.
  • Tennessee Regulatory Authority, 460 James Robertson Parkway, Nashville.
  • State Records Center, Jefferson and Spring Streets, Nashville
  • Tennessee School for the Blind

These buildings WILL REOPEN on Wednesday, May 5:

  • Department of Children's Services Davidson County Office, 900 2nd Avenue.
  • Department of Human Services Office for Davidson County, 1000 2nd Avenue.
  • Motor Vehicle Maintenance Fleet Services Division, 2200 Charlotte Avenue, Nashville.
  • Department of Safety Centennial Boulevard Drivers License Office
  • Department of Safety Foster Avenue Complex
  • State of Tennessee Surplus Property Warehouse, Centennial Blvd

It's Getting Drier on Second Avenue

The Davidson DCS office at 900 Second Avenue North will reopen on Wednesday, May 5th.

Barbara "Lynn" Hamer

Executive AA to Commissioner

Taft Helps Out Around Town

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

As part of its community involvement programs, Taft Youth Center teamed up with the PTO from area schools to build picnic tables to be placed on the playgrounds. The PTO's provided the materials and Vocational Instructor Dennis Sapp instructed his students on the how to measure, cut and build the picnic tables. Many of the Taft students assisted and was proud of their accomplishments. So far they have built tables for Pikeville and Mary V. Wheeler Elementary Schools. Pictured are Taft Voc Inst Dennis Sapp and Pikeville Elementary Principal James Ellis.

In the other photo you'll see the results of another of our projects: Case Manager Grayson Beasley and Officer Donnie Watson joined together with students from the facility to assist the Van Buren County Head Start with its landscaping needs and minor repairs. Beasley and Watson informed the students of the need and informed them they would take two volunteers. Many students were excited and quickly volunteered. The decision was based on behavior and program goals as which students would get to help. Taft has had the privilege of helping twice now. Involvement like this helps the community and the students have a sense of pride in Taft and learn how wonderful it feels to help others.

Carol Narramore

Flickr: Waterlogged

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

May 4 - New State List For Flood-Related Closures

General Services has created a Web page for state office building closures ...   

Obviously, it will be updated today for Wednesday status.

Johnson City Press on Child Abuse

When Kim Garland began working as a supervisor for Child Protective Services years ago she had recurring nightmares about children in mortal danger whom she could not help.

“It is a hard job,” Garland said of being a CPS investigator. “It’s hard to be faced with the kind of crises that families deal with where CPS has to get involved.”

CPS is a division of the Department of Children’s Services. Garland is one of three CPS supervisors for Washington County. Investigators with this division see things that are sometimes difficult to forget. Hospital visits can be especially disturbing, Garland said.

Continue reading here

Shelby's Foster Care Month Offerings

Sticking Together Despite the High Water

The recent flooding has taken an enormous toll on everyone. It is the rare person in West and Middle Tennessee who has not in someway been impacted. Nashville and the surrounding areas have been particularly hard hit. It will be a very long time before things are back to normal.

Our DCS family has done an incredible job of sticking together and making certain that our families and children are cared for. All of our foster families seem to be fine although a couple of them are currently in a motel until they can get back into their homes.

The Second Street DCS office in Nashville remains closed but will probably open as soon as we can get back into the parking lot. Our staff there were incredible. Anticipating that Monday would be a very bad day, they, with RA Carla Webb's leadership, implemented their emergency plan on Sunday. We had a real scare about hard copy records, but as of this moment we have not had any damage to the interior of the building.

The coming weeks and months ahead will continue to challenge all of us. We will, as we always do, pull together, help each other and make it successfully to the other side of this tragedy.

My sincerest thanks and appreciation to each of you who have and are working diligently to make certain that our families and children are cared for.

Viola Miller

Knoxville News Sentinel: Investing in the Future


DANDRIDGE - Students in Larry Johnston's economics class are learning about risk and reward, gains and losses.He quizzes the teens about free enterprise, tests their knowledge of socialism and communism and invites discussion about the differences between Barack Obama, Fidel Castro and Kim Jong-il. . .

The Situation on Tuesday

The residual effects of our weekend storms and flooding are continuing to impact some state office buildings in the Middle and West Tennessee. We understand that many employees and their families continue to feel the effects of the flooding. The purpose of this message is to provide an update on the office closures for which we are aware at time.

The following state office buildings will be CLOSED on Tuesday, May 4. Employees who normally work in these buildings should not report to work unless they receive a specific request from their supervisor.

Andrew Jackson State Office Building

Andrew Johnson Tower

All state office buildings in Metro Center

Department of Children’s Services 2nd Avenue Office

Department of Human Services 2nd Avenue Office

Motor Vehicle Management on Charlotte Avenue

State Records Center

Davy Crockett Tower

TRA Building

Employees who work in the following buildings, or in other offices in downtown or outside of Nashville which were closed on Monday should contact their supervisor for instructions on reporting to work on Tuesday, May 4. Local media may also have updates.

Centennial Drivers License Office

TPS/Department of Safety Foster Avenue Complex

Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute

State of Tennessee Surplus Property Warehouse

TDOT Region 3 Headquarters Building

Tennessee School for the Blind

State employee parking lots closest to Charlotte Avenue remain accessible at this time. Employees may park in these lots on a first come, first served basis. As a safety precaution, employees are advised to avoid parking near standing water which may remain in the lots.

This is the information we have to date. Changes are possible overnight and will be communicated as quickly as possible via email and/or media outlets.

Tennessee Works

To Reduce Child Abuse Deaths

May 1-2

May 3 -- Flooding Closes Second Avenue DCS Office

MONDAY, May 3, 2010 -- Due to flooding in and around the building and parking lots at the Davidson County Regional Office at 900 Second Avenue, the Department of Children's Services has been evacuating those Nashville offices this morning.
We will continue to update employees on the conditions of the building and reporting to work on Tuesday, May 4, via news reports in the local press. Employees may also be hearing instructions from their immediate supervisors.
DCS nevertheless continues to serve children and families and to respond to referrals of abuse and neglect.

April 28 -- Current Budget Situation Very Foggy

April 28 -- These are unsettling budget times in Tennessee state government. I know that each of you would like to have a better understanding of what is going on and what our budget for the next fiscal year will be.

Sadly, we just can't see, from where we sit, what is going on at this time.

There currently are multiple discussions occurring in the legislature, but no clear path to a balanced budget has been determined. The difficulty of this situation is that none of us know how we will be individually impacted.

I can tell you that the reigning sense here is that state employees are extremely valuable and that every effort should be made to avoid further staff reductions. I can also tell you that it could be weeks or even months before we have a final budget for the next fiscal year. I would encourage all of us to make every effort to keep our focus on the people we serve during this difficult time. There is little that any of us can do at this point to impact the budget decisions being made. We can however, make a positive difference for those we serve. Thank you for all you do every day for our children and families.

- Viola Miller

Congratulations, Wilder!

Please allow me to extent my CONGRATULATIONS to Wilder Youth Development Center. We have just been informed that they have successfully completed their American Correctional Association Certification with100% compliance.

It doesn't get any better than this.

Thanks to all the wonderful Wilder staff who made this accomplishment possible. You are making a difference for our youth and doing that work with recognized quality.

Viola Miller

A Day To Remember at New Visions

No one will ever forget that famous day when you walk across the stage and get your high school diploma. It is a day that each individual, who has taken the time, succeeded in their school work, and gave that little bit extra to accomplish a major goal will never forget. We are all used to seeing classes of 150-500 graduate from some of the larger high schools in the area. However, one individual recently received the honor of graduating by herself. Her graduation was something to behold. It was the first for New Visions Academy, this school year.

Due to the confidentiality of our students we will call our student HJ. HJ is a bright, bubbly, fun-loving young lady. HJ wanted to graduate from New Visions. She knew that many times a student who leaves such an institution like New Visions has a rough time getting into public schools. The time of year, credits being transferred and the perception of a new school dealing with a student who has just come from a treatment facility is not always good for the student. HJ also had a great love and fondness for the friends she had made at New Visions. Her graduation was made possible by careful planning, figuring of mandatory school hours needed in each subject, and the student’s desire to double her school work load.

The planning phases for the graduation were amazing. Several staff and students were involved in making sure the ceremony was just right. Banners were made just for our graduate. A graduating gown had to be acquired. Senior pictures of the graduate had to be taken. The gym was decorated. Programs were distributed to the guests. Most of the guest was New Visions staff, but there were two special guests for this ceremony. HJ’s grandmother was in attendance. Tennessee State Senator Thelma Harper was the one local dignitary present.

The graduation was in the gym. All of the current students at New Visions were present. Several staff members from both the first and second shift security were also in attendance. Administration and teachers alike were there to wish our best to HJ. Our new graduate even had her hair and make-up done by a student and the school’s cosmetology teacher. She looked like a young princess. The graduate was ushered in by one of her teachers. She was directed to a chair caped in red. This made her look like she was on a throne. The smile she had was just magnificent.

Several students came from their seats to read poems and cards to the new graduate. Teachers also read poems and passages that related to HJ’s accomplishments. Senator Thelma Harper presented HJ with a proclamation from the Tennessee State Senate. HJ was delighted to receive such an honor. However the best thing was when the principal of New Visions Academy, Ms. Annette Kelly, presented HJ with her diploma. Once again that smile captured everyone’s heart. Students, staff, teachers and everyone began cheering loudly. There were even a few tears shed for such a young lady who had reached her graduation goal.

After the ceremony everyone was treated to cake and goodies provided. While all enjoyed the treats, a montage of picture of HJ and her school friends were scrolled on the wall with the use of a computer. Friends who have already left New Visions and current students were included in the pictures. HJ made sure she had pictures made with her teachers. It was good to see our students enjoying each other.

For most of the students here at New Visions an ending like this does not happen very often. Most students leave here and go to a group home, foster home, independent living arrangements or even back to their families. Very seldom do you hear of the good things that these students make of their lives. It was sure a pleasure to see this young lady, who has so much potential, go the extra mile to make sure she received her high school diploma. No matter how tough your job maybe at times seeing such events is what makes your job a little more worth it.

Trevor Winters
New VisionsYouth Development Center

March 24: Dimple Dudley Wins Outstanding Service Award

Dimple Dudley was awarded the Outstanding Service Award for Child Protective Services at the 2010 National Children's Advocacy Center Conference in Huntsville, Al.  On March 24, this award was presented to Ms. Dudley during the awards luncheon.  She presently serves is the Executive Assistant to the Commissioner.  The following is an exert from the nomination:

"Ms. Dudley has been instrumental in integrating the multiple response approach throughout Tennessee for the past 4 years.  She was assigned to the pilot region when this approach was initiated and worked closely with community partners to educate and facilitate the philosophical changes within the child welfare system in Tennessee.  Ms. Dudley's knowledge and skills were then utilized to create policy and later to train and support other regions as they implemented this approach. Serving in this capacity gave her numerous opportunities to work with internal and external partners to strengthen the communities' response to child abuse and the service array needed to support our families and protect our children."

Presently, Ms. Dudley travels the state working directly with frontline staff focusing her efforts  on the improvement of the quality of casework for child protection.  Ms. Dudley is very knowledgeable about best practices and is often called upon to facilitate discussions with child  welfare staff and other partners to resolve issues that impede best practice.  


Carla Aaron, MSSW

Executive Director for Child Safety

Walk Me Home This June

Walk Me Home (iStockphotos)

Walk Me Home is a nationwide 5k walk that will be held in more than 100 communities in 25 states across the U.S.  Tennessee’s third annual 5k fundraiser is focused on raising awareness of children in foster care. 

Join us for the 3rd Annual Walk Me Home 5k in Nashville on June 26, 2010!

This is a national fundraising event to help benefit foster children and families throughout each participating state.  The nationwide goal is to raise one million dollars; our goal in Tennessee is to raise $20,000 of which 70 percent will go directly to the Tennessee Foster Adoptive Care Association and 30 percent will go to the National Foster Parent Association.  

The proceeds will be used by TFACA to support the special needs of foster children and youth (i.e. camps, purchase of musical instruments, sports involvement, etc.), public awareness/education, workshops, and funding of youth scholarships.

These funds will be used nationally to:

    Increase positive awareness of foster care

    Increase recruitment of foster families

    Continue to develop new and meaningful training opportunities

    Enhance disaster relief efforts, as needed 

    Create and enhance advocacy programs for foster care throughout the nation

There are numerous ways to participate in this event:

    Register as an individual and raise funds solely.

    Form a team and work collectively on a fundraising goal.

    Join an existing team.

    Donate to a team already established.

    Make a one-time donation.

    Register as a VIRTUAL WALKER.     

All options are available on the Walk Me Home website at

For more information contact:   Dorsell Martinez, State Walk Coordinator

Phone:   615.812.0948

E-mail:  or                             

March 24 Update on Staff Reductions

Governor Bredesen announced this morning that notices are going out at the end of this week to state employees who may be affected by the decision to eliminate state positions at six agencies.

The Associated Press story is linked here.

Children's Services is one of those six.

Approximately 147 of these filled positions are at DCS, and approximately 300 letters will be sent. The reduction in force is limited to the Juvenile Justice division's group homes and youth development centers.

Those affected include not only those who may be laid off, but those who may be affected by having the offer to exercise bump or retreat rights under civil-service rules.

We are sending these notices now so the reductions can take effect with the start of the next budget year. State employees have a statutory right to 90 days' notice.

We know that for many of you, it is not a surprise, given the state's difficult budget position. The Governor spoke about these reductions in his State of the State speech, and they are part of the budget proposal now before the Legislature.

We also know it that is difficult and painful news to absorb. This is an incredibly hard time for the department. Some of our best employees are going to be affected, and inside many of these facilities, we are going to have to change the way the work is done.

Leaders from Juvenile Justice and the department's Human Resources office have been planning to travel across the state Thursday and Friday to lead staff meetings to discuss what is happening. Those will be the best places for employees to learn first-hand about what is happening at their facilities.