Report: DCS Slow to Comply With Reform Plan

AP

NASHVILLE (AP) – A recent report shows problems making the transition to a new computer system are preventing the Tennessee Department of Children's Services from fully complying with a court-ordered reform plan.

The report released this week is the latest assessment of the agency's performance under a reform plan brought by the national advocacy group Children's Rights and a group of Tennessee attorneys to improve foster care across the state.

According to the report, the agency's conversion to a new computer system called Tennessee Family and Child Tracking System has prevented the collection of DCS data in over 20 areas of court-ordered reform.

They include: response times to reports of child abuse; compliance with caseload standards for case workers assigned to protect children in foster care; and compliance with required visits between case workers and children in foster care.

"While this reform effort has seen great success since its launch, if progress doesn't pick up significantly it seems unlikely that Tennessee can reach its goal of achieving full compliance with the reform plan within the next two years," said Ira Lustbader, associate director of national advocacy group Children's Rights.

The agency didn't immediately respond to a request from The Associated Press for comment.

Despite the computer problems, the report did note improvements in areas that include: placing children in foster care in family-settings, rather than in institutional settings; placing more children with relatives; and reducing the length of time children stay in foster care.

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