Deputy Commissioner of Child Safety
Carla Aaron is the Deputy Commissioner, Office of Child Safety, for the State of Tennessee’s Department of Children’s Services (DCS). She has 38 years of experience in public child welfare serving in numerous capacities within this agency. She worked on the regional level as a child protective services frontline investigator, supervisor, and as the Regional Administrator of a large urban region. On the state level, she served as the Director of Special Investigations, Director of Communications and as the Executive Director of Child Safety from 2007-2020. Ms. Aaron has been instrumental in creating and implementing sustainable systemic changes within DCS that result in enhanced practice, stronger community partnerships and improved outcomes for families. Such initiatives include the Child Abuse Hotline, the Multiple Response System, In-Home Tennessee (a demonstration project with the Atlantic Coast Child Welfare Implementation Center), and the creation of the Office of Child Safety. She also implemented the Safe Baby Court initiative and led the creation and implementation of a child protective services practice model redesign (2021) within the Department. Ms. Aaron consults on child welfare-related matters in collaboration with national private agencies such as Casey Family Programs, Public Knowledge, and Zero to Three as well as governmental entities such as the Administration for Children and Families, Capacity Building Center, and the State Department. She frequently represents child welfare issues with state and congressional legislators and most recently testified before the House Committee on Ways and Means (2022).
She has conducted numerous training sessions for various Child Advocacy Centers, including the National Children’s Advocacy Center, law enforcement agencies, school systems, and universities such as Vanderbilt, Belmont, and Middle Tennessee State University. She presented at the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC) 23rd and 24th Annual Colloquium, Connecting for Children’s Justice Conference in Tennessee, the National Symposium on Child Abuse in Huntsville, AL. and taught a course at the CPS Training Academy. She was an instructor/consultant for the Salvation Army Group Homes in Singapore, Singapore in 2016. Ms. Aaron works closely with numerous non-profit agencies such as CASA, YMCA, and the Tennessee Chapter of Children’s Advocacy Centers on policy and practice improvement efforts. She has testified as a child abuse expert in a variety of judicial proceedings within Juvenile, Criminal, Chancery, and Federal Court, as well as before the Tennessee State Legislature and the Department of Justice PREA Commission. Ms. Aaron has co-authored Protecting Children with Disabilities from Abuse and Neglect: A Guide for Child Protective Services Staff and Violence Against Children with Disabilities: What Foster Parents Need to Know. As an advocate for children and an expert in child protection, Ms. Aaron has served on various local and statewide boards such as the Nashville Children’s Alliance, Mayor’s Task Force: Project for Student Success (Nashville 2007), Mayor’s Task Force Children and Youth Master Plan (Nashville 2010), Mayor’s Youth Violence Advisory Board (Nashville 2016), Children’s Justice Task Force and the Second Look Commission. She is the recipient of the University of Tennessee Rhoda O’Meara Public Welfare Award 2007.