Department of Children's Services

Gov. Bill Haslam denies the state lost a case in which the Tennessee Department of Children's Services must provide the public records of children who died or nearly died after the agency investigated reports they had been abused or neglected.The Republican governor says the state is simply adhering to a Nashville judge's ruling that it provide the records. Chancellor Carol McCoy ruled last month the agency had to redact and release the documents, calling the state's argument that it needed more time "unpersuasive."

The temporary head Tennessee’s Department of Children’s Services says he will turn things around, even with the title of “interim.” Jim Henry replaces former DCS Commissioner Kate O’Day who resigned yesterday just 24 hours before she was to testify in front of the legislature about unreported child deaths. Commissioner O’Day was criticized for not being accessible, but Henry says he plans to meet with child advocacy groups immediately. 

TN Department of Children's Services

The commissioner of an embattled state agency has resigned. Kate O’Day steps down as head of the Department of Children Services one day before she was to testify about child deaths.

A statement from Governor Bill Haslam’s office says O’Day “felt the time was right” to leave. She entered the job two years ago and has been under intense scrutiny in recent months for undocumented fatalities and a computer system plagued with glitches. Just this week, her office told newspapers they’d have to pay $55,000 to get copies of case files in question.

TN Department of Children's Services

A state legislative committee is expected to hear from the head of the embattled Tennessee Department of Children's Services this week. Commissioner Kate O'Day is scheduled to address questions from the Senate Health and Welfare Committee on Wednesday.

A Tennessee judge will decide whether the state Department of Children's Services must release the case files of children who have died or nearly died after being in contact with the agency. The Tennessean requested the records in September, citing the state's Open Records law. The department gave the paper only a spreadsheet with minimal information. The newspaper sued to force the release of the files. The Associated Press and other media sources are joining the suit that will be heard today.

The Tennessee Department of Children's Services is facing more scrutiny for not providing details on 31 children who died in the first six months of this year while under investigation. The agency released that information in September after repeated requests from a Democratic lawmaker and The Tennessean.

The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services is looking to expand its network of foster homes as need continues to increase. After a decade of steady decreases of children in state custody, Tennessee is beginning to see the number of abused and neglected children grow. The state’s largest provider is Youth Villages, which started a recruitment campaign after researching the demographics of what makes a good foster parent.

Wikimedia Commons

The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services hotline for suspected child abuse has been swamped with calls and is trying to answer them more quickly. The line rings more than 400 times each day, and callers are usually put on hold. DCS says as many as one in four hang up. Carla Aaron oversees the call center and says any call might have critical information about a child’s safety. The Nashville center added five case managers this summer bringing the total to 70.

TN Department of Children's Services

A Democratic lawmaker who played a role in the formation of the embattled Tennessee Department of Children's Services says the agency's commissioner shouldn't be blamed for deeply rooted problems she inherited. The agency has released information showing that 31 children it had investigated died during the first half of 2012. Critics want to replace DCS Commissioner Kate O’Day, who Governor Bill Haslam appointed just last year. However, Representative John Deberry of Memphis, who has been a DCS critic over the years, says the problem isn’t O’Day. It’s many of the workers she oversees.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam says no immediate evidence of wrongdoing by the Department of Children’s Services has been found in the deaths of 31 children. He calls the deaths, which included ten infants with open case files, distressing. Haslam reviewed the reports and says the D-C-S took appropriate action in the cases.