Nashville, TN – As the state moves into the new year, nearly 1,200 more Tennessee children are celebrating with their adoptive mothers and fathers instead of remaining in foster care.
It’s a celebration of the love, support, and commitment of their adoptive families — and a testament to the dedication of the DCS network of staff, providers, partners, and volunteers who helped make these adoptions happen.
“I think Tennessee is doing fantastic work,” said Lynn Johnson, the assistant secretary of the U.S. Administration for Children and Families. She was in Nashville this week to celebrate Tennessee’s participation in the national “All In” adoption challenge to find forever homes for youth.
“And we’re making it happen faster, and I believe that’s what Tennessee is doing,” Johnson said. “They are moving this in such a great direction that I hope everybody is watching them — because this is what kids deserve. This is how you get forever families.”
In the federal 2020 fiscal year, 1,186 Tennessee children were adopted from state care, up from 1,166 in the 2019 fiscal year.
“We share Lynn Johnson’s passion for getting kids to permanency, and it was a pleasure to spend time with her over the past two days, showing her how Governor Lee and Tennessee embraced the All-In Challenge to find forever homes for children in foster care,” DCS Commissioner Jennifer Nichols said Wednesday.
“Secretary Johnson had the opportunity to visit with two adoptive families, as well as DCS staff and our community partners at Show Hope and the Honey Alexander Center, to see firsthand how we are all working together to deliver paths for permanency for our children,” Nichols said.
Johnson recalled how she contacted governors from both parties, including Tennessee Governor Bill Lee: “‘Would you focus on helping waiting kids get adopted?’ And Governor Lee did. He was one of the first. He said we will take care of kids, and he took it so seriously.”
Most of the children and youth in state custody return to their birth families, after the state’s public child welfare system, has helped those families address the needs that brought those children into care. Not all can return home or to extended family members, and for those children, permanency often means adoption.
“Over the past year, the pandemic has placed severe stress on many Tennessee families. But we know that reducing pressures on families and adding support can make a huge difference,” said Sandra Wilson, the DCS deputy commissioner for Child Programs. ”That’s how DCS has responded. We have kept recruiting new foster and adoptive families. And for those children who now find themselves in an adoptive home this year, these results are some of the happiest outcomes we can imagine.”
Eighty percent of the Tennessee children who are adopted from state care are adopted by their foster parents. DCS foster parents are trained and licensed as adoptive parents. So if the children make a connection in foster care, then the move to permanency is a more natural one. After all, they’re already home.
DCS also works closely with family members, such as grandparents, who want to take in a child but need support to do so. The number of these subsidized permanent guardianships also rose in the latest federal fiscal year, up 431 from 387.
DCS works with a large statewide network of private providers, juvenile courts, support services, partner agencies, and non-profits. These organizations represent a highly motivated team of child-welfare specialists who are dedicated to keeping children safe, getting them healthy, and putting them on track to permanency.
We share in the children’s joy and are proud to have played a role in bringing these families together.
Find out more about how DCS helps support foster care and adoption, visit the DCS page.