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How to Make a Difference


Each year, more than 20,000 young people age out of foster care at 18 without an adoptive family, or an established permanent relationship.

In Tennessee, an average of 1,000 young people age out of foster care each year — many without the typical family and community supports that influence security and success.

The Department of Children’s Services offers Extension of Foster Care services, to continue delivering assistance and support to young people through the age of 21. And DCS works with young people to help them enter college and post-secondary schools.

But, there is a lot more that can be done for transitioning youth – and you can help. You can play a major role in creating opportunities for young people in state foster care in a wide variety of ways.

Here’s how:

Volunteer as a CASA

Tennessee’s Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children is a nonprofit organization comprised of volunteers who serve as trained advocates for abused and neglected children in state custody by doing case research, appearing at hearings, monitoring plans and much more.

Tennessee CASA aims to provide a CASA volunteer for every child in Tennessee who needs one by the year 2020. Click on the CASA site to  learn more.

Mentor a Youth

Studies show children who have at least one consistent, caring adult in their lives are less likely to drop out of school or get in trouble with law enforcement and are better prepared to build good relationships with their own families than those without that positive influence.

Many private providers who contract with DCS offer mentoring programs in your community. Youth Villages mentors make a six-month commitment and typically spend time with the youth doing activities a few times a month. Monroe Harding requires mentors to be 25 or older and spend at least one hour per week with the youth.

To become a mentor, contact your local private providers or local DCS office.

Get Involved in County-based Advisory Boards

Each county has a Community Advisory Board, an independent local advisory board made up of families, local public agencies, schools, health departments, health care providers, juvenile court, law enforcement officials, and other community-based resources.

Each local advisory board recommends ways to bring together DCS, families, and available resource providers within the community and works to develop formal and informal services resources families may need such as diapers, mattresses, pots and pans. Services can range from providing furniture to fueling a car.

Tennessee has 95 CABs—one in each county across the state and they are separate and independent entities.

To get involved in a Community Advisory Board contact the DCS Regional Resource Linkage Coordinator in  your region.

Contact your local DCS Office  for More

Call your local DCS office to learn more about needs specific in your area.

You also can donate or volunteer through the Community Resource Centers listed below:

Become a Foster Parent

Foster parents provide temporary care for children until they become part of a permanent family again — either through adoption, permanent guardianship or through reunification with their biological family. 

To become a foster parent, you:

  • Can be single, married or divorced
  • May or may not have other children
  • Can own your home or rent
  • Can work full-time
  • Must be at least 21- years-old
  • Must be a resident of the State of Tennessee
  • Must be able to meet the financial and emotional needs of your own family and the child
  • Must be a citizen or permanent resident of USA

To get started, call 1-877-DCS-KIDS or fill out this initial inquiry form. We will answer any questions and connect you with free pre-approval training. Potential foster parents also must pass a background check.