Friday, January 28, 2011

Union hosts roundtable-Faith leaders to partner with child welfare workers


January 26, 2011
Organizers of a roundtable discussion Thursday at Union University hope to unite faith leaders and child welfare workers in the cause to help Tennessee's children.
The Faith-Based Roundtable is a chance for the faith community to learn about different ways it can help the Department of Children's Services, according to a news release from the department.
The event, hosted by Union, begins with a special dinner meeting at 5:30 p.m. The discussion will start at 6:30 p.m. in the Carl Grant Events Center.
Wess Morgan, a pastor and recording artist, is the featured speaker. A Tennessee native, Morgan used drugs and alcohol at a young age. That led to years in jail and treatment centers while being cared for by family and child welfare workers, the release said. Morgan recovered and will share his story.
Mary Ann Poe, professor of social work at Union, said the Department of Children's Services is promoting this event as a way to engage the faith community in the work of caring for children who are vulnerable in the community.
"For many years, the state system and the faith community would run on different tracks in how to take care of children," she said. "There's been an effort in the last couple of years on the department's part to extend their hand to the faith community, saying, 'We need help. Can you partner with us?'"
The roundtable is about how area churches, temples, charities and organizations can be supportive and helpful in the work the state does, Poe said.
"This includes understanding and knowledge in recognizing child abuse in churches; that's one piece," she said. The focus, Poe said, is how to be a part of community advisory boards that are part of DCS.
"This would allow congregations to be sources of information on adopting or fostering children," she said. "They can learn how to be engaged with mentoring programs. This roundtable is designed to be a conversation."
Poe said Union and its social work department is glad to be part of the discussion. The department has worked with DCS in numerous ways, and many Union graduates work with DCS, she said.
The news release said the event is for pastors, youth ministers, deacons and other lay leaders from every faith tradition; local elected officials and other community leaders dedicated to helping children and families; and all child advocates and other citizens concerned about the well-being of West Tennessee's children.
—Tracie Simer, 425-9629


Faith-Based Roundtable Conference
6:30 p.m., Thursday
Grant Event Center, Union University
For more information, call 431-4064. There is no cost, but everyone must pre-register. Clergy and members of the Southwest Community Advisory Boards are invited to a special dinner meeting before the Roundtable, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Register at

IRS Offers Guidance on Expanded Adoption Credit

Washington, D.C. 
(September 29, 2010)

By WebCPA Staff

The Internal Revenue Service has released guidance on the expanded adoption credit that is available for tax year 2010 as a result of the Affordable Care Act, along with a draft version of the form that taxpayers will use to claim it.

The Affordable Care Act raises the maximum adoption credit to $13,170 per child, up from $12,150 in 2009. It also makes the credit refundable, meaning that eligible taxpayers can get it even if they owe no tax for that year. In general, the credit is based on the reasonable and necessary expenses related to a legal adoption, including adoption fees, court costs, attorney’s fees and travel expenses. Income limits and other special rules apply.

In addition to filling out Form 8839, Qualified Adoption Expenses, eligible taxpayers must include with their 2010 tax returns one or more adoption-related documents, detailed in the guidance issued today. The documentation requirements, designed to ensure that taxpayers properly claim the credit, mean that taxpayers claiming the credit will have to file paper tax returns. Normally, it takes six to eight weeks to get a refund claimed on a complete and accurate paper return where all required documents are attached. The IRS encourages taxpayers to use direct deposit to speed their refund.

Taxpayers claiming the credit will still be able to use IRS Free File  to prepare their returns, but the returns must be printed out and sent to the IRS, along with all the required documentation.

Reprise on Open Records

DCS Open Records Requests: A Primer

Tennessee law enables state residents to have access to government records. And while in most cases, child- and case-specific DCS information must remain confidential under state law, the department is committed to being as open and responsive as it possibly can. In some instances, there are even ways for certain interested parties to gain access to child and family information.
T.C.A. 37-5-107 is the state law that defines what must remain confidential at DCS. Confidential information includes application, certificates, records, reports and all legal documents, petitions, and records identifying a child or family receiving services from the Department of Children’s Services.
Here is a link to the state's office of Open Records Counsel, where you can find more detailed descriptions of how to obtain government information, including proper forms, explanations of reasonable charges and rules for submitting requests.
Those wishing to request access to DCS records must make their initial requests to either the department's Communications Office or its General Counsel's office.
The mailing address for both is The Department of Children's Services; Seventh Floor, Cordell Hull Building; 436 Sixth Avenue North; Nashville, TN 37243-1290.
 The Communications Director is Rob Johnson. His e-mail address is
Stacy Miller -- -- is the DCS General Counsel.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

First O'Day

Tuesday morning, I met scores of my new Children’s Services colleagues at our Cordell Hull central offices in Nashville. I shook lots of hands, and I enjoyed getting a chance to meet those who will help me to continue and advance the good work that has taken place at DCS.

For those of you who couldn’t be here in Nashville, I wanted to share with you a bit of what I said.

First, I am very glad to be here working with you as of Saturday.  I am humbled and honored to be asked to serve -- particularly by this Administration. I believe we are on the threshold of a new era for Tennessee under Governor Haslam.

I am aware of the enormity of the challenges before us,  but as those of you who know me have already seen, I am up for a good challenge. I want to thank all of you for the good work you have already done. There is no question that DCS has moved forward in recent years, and  I am sure you are aware that much remains to be done.

We will need to maintain our progress and meet our targets for the safety, permanency and well being of the families we serve.

And we will also need to focus in new ways on:

·        Efficiency
·        Transparency
·        Customer Service

Our No. 1 job is to be a resource to all of our customers. The families. The citizens. The taxpayers.

Without a doubt, this a time of change and uncertainty. I know that can be stressful. But you should also consider that this change also brings leadership opportunities -- no matter who you are, or in what capacity you serve, there are leadership opportunities for you. We will need each and every member of our team to move this agenda forward.

I want to remind you that not only will we need to be excellent, we will also need to be very efficient and able to demonstrate our effectiveness. So please be thinking how you want to contribute to that mission.

I am one of you now.  Together, we will be looking for good ideas and great collaborators going forward -- both within our ranks at DCS and in all of the communities we serve.

- Kate O'Day

Monday, January 17, 2011