Foster Care & Adoption

When children are not able to stay safely in their own homes and there isn’t a relative who can care for them, they often have to come into state custody.

The department’s first goal for children is to work toward a safe return home to their families.

Foster parents provide nurturing and supportive homes in which the children’s emotional, physical and social needs can be met, while issues and concerns in the immediate family can be addressed.

Some children in foster care can be placed with relatives, who receive the same support as non-relative caregivers and must meet the same criteria to become an approved Foster Home.

In Tennessee, there are also approved private agencies that, in partnership with DCS, train and support families to care for children in foster care and specialized foster homes that serve children who have extraordinary medical needs that require special attention.

Tennessee places a strong emphasis on keeping children in a family-like setting and DCS strives to keep siblings together. Our staff also does everything it can to keep kids as close to their home communities as possible.

Foster care is meant to be a temporary service until the family and in some cases, the child, can address the problems that made placement necessary. But, when parents cannot, or will not, make their home safe for the child’s return, other permanent options are sought. These option include:

  • adoption
  • give custody to relatives
  • independent living arrangements for older youth
  • permanent guardianship to an adult relative, foster parent or another adult with a significant relationship with the child

It is important to note, Tennessee Foster Parents are dually approved to adopt, which means they have the first option of adopting a child they have fostered, or another child who has become eligible for adoption.

Learn more

Please visit the following sections for information specific to your needs and to address questions about foster care and adoption in Tennessee.