NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — After the release of an audit highlighting issues within the department, lawmakers and the commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services met Wednesday to discuss the problems and potential solutions.
One suggestion that was discussed was calling on churches and members of the community to get more involved in helping children in DCS custody.
“We need our churches to step up, one of the fundamental charges of scripture is to look after children,” said state Sen. Kerry Roberts, (R-Springfield).
DCS Commissioner Margie Quin told the committee about how a church helped provide hot meals and assistance to caseworkers.
The department also told lawmakers about how Isaiah 117 House has helped provide transitional housing for children just entering DCS custody.
“If I’m not mistaken that particular idea stemmed from one person addressing the needs in our community,” said Rep. John Crawford, (R-Bristol), about Isaiah 117 House, “If I’m not mistaken the communities have helped so much that this organization here does not take any state funding that I’m aware of, they are doing it all through the community that is us Tennesseeans stepping up to do what’s right.”
Democratic Rep. Vincent Dixie questioned why the state is not taking more action to use the more than a billion dollars in rainy day funds to help DCS and help programs that are assisting the department.
“It seems like there is a push to shift the focus on the community to take responsibility,” Dixie said. “Average Tennesseans are struggling to meet their daily needs like pay bills, keep a roof over their head, food on the table. And we are going to ask these same people to take from their limited budget to try and help out.”
Sen. Janice Bowling, (R-Tullahoma), responded to Dixie’s comments with praise for Isaiah House.
“People in Tennessee need to help hurting families in Tennessee,” she said.
Commissioner Quin responded to the question by reiterating her budget request to the governor and said partnerships with local communities help them serve children best.
“Government is not always the right answer. I’ve always believed in private-public partnerships,” Quin said.
For more information on the possible solutions covered click here.