Stewart County foster care board sends stern message to DCS

Written by
Bonnie Lill

DOVER, TENN. — The Stewart County Foster Care Review Board sent a stern letter to State legislators and Department of Children’s Services Commissioner Jim Henry a few days ago, outlining their displeasure with DCS and asking for some more timely changes to help the children in DCS custody.
“The changes are coming too slowly for the most vulnerable children in our state,” said FCRB Chairman Kyle Mallory.
Mallory, who had worked for over 10 years for DCS in the past, said that the board’s major beef is with the department’s upper management.
“It’s the fox watching the henhouse,” he said, adding that there really is no oversight over the “top brass” in DCS.
The letter further stated, “We are frustrated and concerned about the problems that seem to continually occur within too many of the cases we see because of the courts’ lack of legislative authority to implement the recommendations made for the wellbeing of our children.”
The FCRB also had three other bones of contention.
First, they said that, “Caseworkers seem to have too many cases, they seem to get mixed messages from management, and they seem to lack support from top tier management.”
Their second issue concerned DCS’s apparent inability to implement corrective action on the parts of the children in custody, while the third encouraged more legislative oversight of DCS.
Mallory said that the board hopes other foster care review boards across the state will follow suit in a manner they consider appropriate for their own unique situations.
Mallory said the board was satisfied with the caseworkers, and they have been pleased that the number of caseworkers assigned to Stewart County has slowly increased over the past three years.
“The case managers do good work despite upper management, not because of upper management,” concluded Mallory. “The decisions and philosophy of upper management is the problem.”
The Stewart County Foster Care Review Board is an eight-member board appointed by Juvenile Court Judge Andy Brigham. They serve at the will of the court.
The board looks at all of the foster care cases in Stewart County, and they make suggestions to DCS and the courts.
However, Mallory said that they have no real authority except to recommend.
He said that if the legislature would give the local courts a little more authority over the children who are part of the community, things would undoubtedly be better for the children.
Mallory said that DCS has been trying to make some changes over the past three years, but their efforts don’t seem to be serving the children they are supposed to protect.
“I still have friends who work for DCS,” Mallory said. “They are telling me the problems keep getting bigger but DCS just keeps getting better at hiding them.”