The Department of Children’s Services (DCS) in Tennessee is supposed to be an organization that residents can rely on to report cases of abuse or neglect. Children under their care are to be properly supported and provided with everything they need to thrive. They are to assist the children deemed “juvenile delinquents” by encouraging them to turn their lives around and become better humans. Unfortunately, they appear to be doing none of this. They are breaking down under internal issues, not taking the children into regard. When they can’t hold their organization together, how can we ensure those children are safe?
Children are being left in potentially dangerous situations
New reports have shed light on several issues that the DCS can’t seem to get under control. In a recently-conducted audit, children have been found in ironically neglectful situations after being placed in their custody because they were neglected at home. Children were observed sleeping on the floors of DCS offices, without proper clothes or beds to sleep in. Many were also obligated to sleep in hospital beds or underneath cubicles. While those children were supposed to be sleeping comfortably in foster care homes already, some of them spent up to almost 40 nights sleeping in these inappropriate locations.
Keep in mind that in these sleeping sites like the DCS offices, children may not receive necessities. In addition to inappropriate clothing or beds, they may also not be provided with sufficient nutritious food. They have no access to showers, so they are sleeping in their filth and dirty clothing for nights on end. If you know of a loved one that could potentially be in this situation at the hands of DCS, contact one of our attorneys today to discuss all options for placing that child in better care.
DCS employee turnover and shortage
When social workers have huge cases thrown at them while they’re already drowning in their work, it makes you wonder how they are even taking care of the children. The answer is – they’re not. The turnover rate among DCS staff is higher than it has ever been before. The Tennessean reports that about half of new employees quit within their first year. They also report an expected 47.7% turnover rate for 2023. Between the time that it takes to get new employees onboarded and trained, many children are put in harm’s way because some managers are busy dealing with the employees instead. TN’s DCS has simply too few employees for all the work they have – and there is clearly something else going on since they can’t seem to hang on to their employees.
This shortage of personnel leads to so many other issues, such as the risk of abuse under their care and not providing them with the healthcare they need. They are not being scheduled for their regular check-ups and dental screenings, which could lead to potential infections and health complications. Monthly supervised contacts with families and investigators are also not being upheld because of this shortage, which can increase the risk of that child continuing to suffer through abuse and neglect.
DCS does not investigate in due time
According to the audit, in some instances, their abuse hotline took over 40 days to hand over cases of neglect and abuse to child abuse investigators. These children remained in potentially dangerous situations for weeks before an investigator talked to them. Other children who were already under state care were found to have been involved in inappropriate sexual instances, which the organization did not investigate at all. Over 92% of sexual abuse cases were not processed promptly by the DCS. Because of their high employee turnover rate and instability, countless children remained in dangerous and abusive households.
How can an attorney help me?
As the DCS seems to be falling apart from the inside out, children, their families, and foster care parents bear the brunt. While we all wish for a perfect system to get our children quickly from their care into better homes, the DCS’ volatile organization does not allow for this. An attorney experienced in representing families in DCS cases can help in various ways. For instance, if DCS is looking to enter your home and question you and your child, you will be provided with expert advice on what to say and what not to say. Our attorneys will help guide you as to how you should act against them.
It will never be easy to be in a position where you may lose custody of your child. At Altshuler Law, our compassionate and empathetic attorneys will be with you the entire time. We help find any flaws in DCS investigations that could help you reunite your family. There may have been breaches of your constitutional rights, and we will discover them to strengthen your case as much as possible. Our child custody attorneys will teach you about your rights so that DCS doesn’t deceive you.
When these cases come up, you will not always be able to rely on your family members and friends. Having a skilled lawyer ready to fight for you and your children is key to winning these cases against the DCS. We will not let your child be in their unsafe hands and uncaring hearts. As for foster care parents, our team will fight for you if DCS is looking to deem your home unsafe for children. Losing legal custody as a foster parent is just as emotionally difficult. We will ensure DCS stays in its lane in situations that do not truly necessitate them.
Dealing with Tennessee’s Department of Children’s Services is no easy task. The children are suffering while the organization cannot handle its own employee behavior and shortage. If you have a child under their care or are struggling to otherwise confront DCS, contact one of our experienced family law attorneys today. With offices in Franklin, Brentwood, and Columbia, our lawyers will walk you through every step of the way. Call our office at any time as we are available 24 hours a day. You can also complete our contact form for a free, no-obligation initial consultation.