Tennessee Democrats: Don't Let DCS Off Easy in Hearings

Mar 9, 2013

The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services is scheduled to update lawmakers on progress toward keeping track of child deaths. But Democrats say they don’t expect enough tough questions.

Two years ago, the legislature proudly abolished all of its joint committees as a way to cut $850,000 out of the budget. One of them had direct oversight of DCS – the select committee on children and youth.

Without this special panel, Rep. Sherry Jones of Nashville says there are few experts on child abuse and foster care at the capitol.

“They don’t know how the department works. They don’t know what’s been going on, so they can ask a couple of minor questions, and then pat the commissioner on the back.”

Jones was one of the loudest critics of commissioner Kate O’Day who resigned last month. She says the interim commissioner seems to be turning things around.

This week DCS released information on dozens of deaths for children in state custody. But Jones also believes DCS has systemic problems that could take years to fix.

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