Nashville-Davidson

Caseworker vacancies and low employee morale marked DCS commissioner’s tenure – Nashville-Davidson, Tennessee

Nashville-Davidson, Tennessee 2022-07-22 17:13:08 –

Nashville, Tennessee (WTVF) — Jennifer Nichols was best known as a special counsel for the Holly Bobo case.

After spending 20 years as a prosecutor in Shelby County, Governor Bill Lee chose her to lead the Children’s Services Department in 2019.

She soon faced leading the department through a pandemic.

Meanwhile, leaked employee surveys showed that many employees were concerned about worker resignations, increased caseloads, and a “toxic work environment.”

“The lack of staff does not allow these children to cover all bases,” said Gloria Johnson, Congressman of D-Knoxville.

Last summer, a caseworker leaked a video of children sleeping on the floor of a DCS office building in Nashville.

It was first reported by the Tennessee Observatory and then featured by media throughout the state.

The children were taken out of the house because they were unsafe, but DCS had no foster parents.

Former caseworker Terri Nelson Surveyed by NewsChannel 5 And she said she released a video because people need to know what’s going on.

“They are sleeping on the floor. They don’t even have blankets. It’s sneaky. We just told them they didn’t matter,” Nelson said.

Nelson was fired by the department after releasing the video.

“I thought it would definitely be, it could put a target on my back,” Nelson said.

An ongoing study of NewsChannel 5 found that more than 40 children fled downtown DCS office buildings last year.

Many were there because the DCS did not have immediate foster parents to bring them in.

After the report, some state legislators said they had lost confidence in Nichols.

“For now, I don’t know if anyone can have complete confidence in this department or commissioner,” Senator Yarbro said in April. Surveyed by NewsChannel 5 Asked, “Does the DCS Commissioner have complete confidence in you?”

last week Surveyed by NewsChannel 5 The department reported a vacancy of 600 caseworkers.

The number of families trying to raise is also steadily decreasing.

Attorney David Ravin said discussions are underway on a class action against the state to improve the DCS.

“There is ongoing debate about taking action to remedy the current crisis,” Ravin said in April.

He was one of the lawyers who sued the state in 2000, claiming he did not take care of foster children.

The class proceeding, called Brian A., was named after the foster parent system at the age of nine.

Ravin said he had recently talked about filing a new proceeding against the state.

“The kids are so helpless that there is no constituency. They have no voice. We are their voice and we will speak again unless the state steps up and does this. “Ravin said.



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