April 2023 Open Line

Happy Administrative Professionals Day!

Thank you DCS Administrative Professionals!

The department missed the opportunity to recognize the DCS Doctors 🥼 (MDs and PhDs) on Doctors Day March 30, so today, and every day we say THANK YOU for all the hard work you do putting Children First!

Thank you to Child Health Data Analyst, Anthony Mills for ensuring his colleagues received their much-deserved shout-out!

On April 26th- we showed appreciation for our Administrative Professionals whose invaluable support keeps this department running.

Here are other days when we can show our appreciation!

  • Nurses Day - May 6, 2023
  • World Teachers Day - October 5, 2023
  • Boss Day - October 16, 2023
  • International Accounting Day - November 10, 2023
  • National Education Support Professional Day - November 15, 2023

Graduation Day!

27 front-line DCS employees graduated from the Child Protective Services Academy where they spent two weeks honing their skills used to investigate reports of abuse and neglect. Participants were trained by community experts in fields such as drug use, domestic violence, child physical abuse, and more. In Week 2, participants worked through simulations based on actual cases to be coached on new and improved tactics. This is the 10th year for the CPS Academy. DCS is committed to investing in the continuous education of our staff and supporting professional development.

Sullivan County CAC

Sullivan County CAC
Congratulations to Sarah Freeman, DCS CPS Investigator, for winning the 2023 Blue Ribbon Award from the Sullivan County CAC!

Forever Homes Act Bill Signed

THANK YOU to the following DCS employees and community partners who helped make the Forever Homes Act signing event in Chattanooga a major success.

Shannon Romans, Regional Director, Tennessee Valley Region; Nikki Harris, DCS Team Coordinator;  Caroline Pepper Director of Foster Care Ministry at Ridgedale Baptist;  Ryan McBride, Discipleship and Missions Pastor at Ridgedale Baptist;  Emily Graffius, Community Engagement Manager with TN Kids Belong

Both Governor Lee and Commissioner Quin enjoyed spending time with those in the area committed to putting Children First! 

Legal Presentation

DCS Legal Team Presented Training to Lawyers & Judges

The DCS legal team presented training to a gathering of lawyers and judges from the Upper Cumberland region in Livingston, TN. This provides invaluable, and unduplicated, legal training to local attorneys and judges on recent developments in Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice law. 

Remembering the Children Lost to Child Abuse

A somber day in Memphis remembering three children lost to child abuse. DCS Interim Deputy Commissioner of the Office of Child Safety, Deshawn Harris, read their name aloud during the Child Advocacy Center’s annual Children’s Memorial Flag-Raising Ceremony. DA Steve Mulroy, the MPD Color Guard, and students from Collegiate School of Memphis filled the Vasco A. Smith Shelby County Administrative Building Plaza to show support for child abuse awareness month. To learn more information about how to protect children visit www.memphiscac.org.

Memphis Flag Raising
Remembering children who have lost their lives to child abuse.
Remembering children who have lost their lives to child abuse.

Employee Spotlight

Stephanie Coleman

Meet JJ Program Coordinator Stephanie Coleman who’s recognized as an immense asset to the team.

Known by her department as the data guru of OJJ, Stephanie routinely goes above and beyond. Executive Director, Michael Flanery- Gray, explains Stephanie has been instrumental recently in developing data on fiscal impact. This information supported legislative bills that will impact JJ. Stephanie not only assists in OJJ but other program areas and even volunteers to sit with youth on the weekends for the Northwest Region!   

Here is what a collogue shared about Stephanie:

Stephanie not only pulls data to include safe measures reports around contacts, meeting objectives, and doing scorecards, she sends out weekly data and breaks it down to the TL. This helps provide the necessary information to complete performance reviews. Stephanie has also set up one-on-one meetings with specific regions to help them better understand this data. She is always open to feedback and changing things on reports that might make them more user-friendly. She is always willing to look at cases on the reports to find out what issues may occur, trends, etc. Stephanie also personally assisted me with updating and making a more user-friendly version of the internal tracking spreadsheet. She did this just to assist as this project was not her responsibility. Stephanie is a real asset to OJJ and I want her to be recognized for all the work that she puts in on a daily basis.

Missions Week at Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church

Carren at Cedar Springs

Carren Broadnax, Knox County Resource Linkage Coordinator, was invited to speak during Missions Week at Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church. She presented to 4 groups sharing with interested individuals how they can support children and staff involved with DCS, how to help with prevention and mentoring, volunteering, and fostering. She covered any possible avenue with some straight-from-the-heart conversations. If you have ever heard Carren present, you know everyone was touched! CPS Regional Director Ashley Westaway says, “We are so thankful for the opportunity to expand our partnership with Cedar Springs and for having Carren representing DCS.”

3rd Annual Easter Egg Hunt/Celebration

On April 2nd, the Davidson County Region in partnership with Tennessee Alliance for Kids hosted the 3rd Annual Easter Egg Hunt/Celebration. This year community partners donated over 2000 candy-filled Easter eggs. Nearly 100 children/families were in attendance. Our foster families as well as DCS Staff and their families attended this day of food, fun, games, and dancing. It was an amazing event!

Thank you to our volunteers/sponsors.

Murfreesboro Ques (Pi Gamma Gamma & Mu Zeta chapters of Omega Psi Phi, Fraternity, Inc., Jack and Jill Williamson County, National Charity League Greater Nashville, Young Men’s Service League, ( MTNA) Middle Tennessee Network Association, Pandy cotton candy, Tiffs Treats, Crumble Cookie, Dan Battle 4 good, Card My Yard, Harmony, Tn Kids Belong, Joni & Friends, Sunni & Friends. (Sunni, Chelsea, Katie, Jennie, & Amanda) 

Best of Me is in 2023

April 28, 2023

May is Blood Pressure Education Month

May is Blood Pressure Education Month

Learn about blood pressure by completing the Blood Pressure Scavenger Hunt. Complete the hunt by May 31 to be entered in a prize drawing.

Three participants chosen at random will win a prize!

Upcoming Virtual Events

Upcoming Virtual Events

Self-Care: Small Changes for Positive Results
(Presented by Optum Health)
Tuesday, May 2 from 10:30-11 a.m. CT

Many people feel they have to put other people’s needs before their own. But putting aside your own needs is a trap we can easily fall into with aging parents, young children, or dependents relying on us. When we think about it, our health and happiness are the basic foundations of our life – and just like a house – if the foundations are wobbly so too is the rest of the structure. Once you’ve grasped this fact you then turn to: ‘But when do I have time?!’ We get it. In this session, we address both issues; the need for self-care and the time you can find to do it.


You can access all upcoming activities, webinars, and workouts at https://www.tn.gov/wfhtn/challenges/wellness-events.html.

Can’t attend the Self-Care webinar? Check out this Self-Care BINGO: https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/wfhtn/documents/wfhtn_self_care_bingo_card_free_space.pdf


Spotlight on Financial Wellness

Financial wellness is important; take advantage of the numerous financial resources from Here4TN. Get an online financial stress assessment, self-directed online learning, a 25% discount for the preparation of all personal income tax documents plus two calls with a money coach. All are 100% confidential.

Black Bean Burgers

Recipe of the Week

May is National Hamburger Month

Celebrate this food holiday with a vegetarian burger option: Black Bean Burgers. Black beans and cooked rice are used as the base of these delicious burgers. Flavored with scallions, garlic, and spices, these are sure to please the whole family.


April 21, 2023

April is National Garden Month

There are several ways to celebrate:

Learn: 12 Vegetables You Can Regrow from Scraps

Join the Vegetable Container Gardening webinar with Davidson County Master Gardeners on April 27 from 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. CT. Learn how growing plants in containers can expand your gardening options!  Discover you can easily and successfully grow a variety of vegetables, flowers, and fruits in containers such as pots, tires and satellite dishes.

Download calendar invite.

You can access all upcoming WFHTN activities, webinars, and workouts at https://www.tn.gov/wfhtn/challenges/wellness-events.html.

Hobbies Can Help Your Mental Health

Fun and relaxation are good for your health! Whether you’re an artist, athlete, musician, or movie buff, remember to make making time for yourself a part of your regular schedule. Learn about the benefits of hobbies and find resources.

Show off one of your favorite hobbies by submitting a photo to wfht.tn@tn.gov by 4/28 and be entered into a drawing for one of three wellness prizes!

National Zucchini Muffins

Recipe of the Week

Tuesday, April 25 is National Zucchini Bread Day!

Celebrate with these Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins.

Adding zucchini to this baked good is a great way to add nutrition. Zucchini is a versatile squash rich in vitamins and minerals. It may offer several health benefits, ranging from improved digestion to a lower risk of heart disease.


April 14, 2023

LOL the Stress Away

Let's Laugh Away Stress!

Laughter really is the best medicine! Laughter and joy lead to improved well-being, boosted morale, increased communication skills, and an enriched quality of life. Create opportunities to laugh! One way to laugh is by doing laughter yoga. Laughter yoga involves various movement and breathing exercises to promote intentional laughter. Laughter yoga may help reduce stress, promote a greater sense of well-being, lower blood pressure, and help you connect with others. Want to try it out? See below for more information about an upcoming live laughter yoga session!

Laughter Yoga

Friday, April 21 from 10-10:20 a.m. CT

Join us for a 20-minute laughter yoga break with Wellness Coordinator Kristina Giard-Bradford! Registration is limited to 15 participants. Cameras are required to participate.


Up Coming Events

Upcoming Virtual Events

Meditation Break with Nat

Wednesday, April 19 from 11:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. CT

Give your mind a break with live, virtual meditation.
This class is brought to you by volunteer instructor and TN State Government employee Nat Chapman from the Department of Human Services in partnership with Working for a Healthier Tennessee.

Download calendar invite.

You can access all upcoming activities, webinars, and workouts at https://www.tn.gov/wfhtn/challenges/wellness-events.html.

Can’t attend a live event?

Try this Guided Visualization: Dealing with Stress.

https://youtu.be/Dq9odPtHbcg (10 minutes, 26 seconds)

Healthy eating doesn't have to be expensive. Here are four easy tips to save money at the grocery store.

Roasted Veggies

Recipe of the Week

Learn how to roast any vegetable! Vegetables are a good source of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Roasting them often brings out the sweetness, so you might be surprised at what vegetables you and/or your family will enjoy after being roasted!


April is Stress Awareness Month

April 7, 2023

April is Stress Awareness Month

Some stress is normal, chronic stress has negative effects on health.

Learn ways to reduce stress:

Nobody Trashes Tennessee

Upcoming Virtual Events

Nobody Trashes Tennessee

(Presented by Tennessee Department of Transportation)

Friday, April 14 from 10-10:30 a.m. CT

There are currently 100 million pieces of litter on Tennessee state roadways, and it costs TDOT more than $23 million to clean them up every year. This information was discovered during a pioneering “Visible Litter Study.” After all this research, Nobody Trashes Tennessee was created. It’s a litter prevention campaign brought to you by TDOT. It was created to raise awareness about Tennessee’s litter problem, to end littering and build state pride. Join this session to learn more about Nobody Trashes Tennessee.

Download calendar invite.

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4Mind4Body Webinar: Your Debt-Free Game Plan

Wednesday, April 12 from 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. CT

Debt is one of the biggest obstacles keeping Americans from reaching their financial goals. This class will encourage you to prioritize debt management, but it doesn't stop there! We’ll also go over specific debt reduction strategies and review how to write and follow SMART goals. We hope you leave this class motivated and more confident about reducing your debt.


You can access all upcoming activities, webinars and workouts at https://www.tn.gov/wfhtn/challenges/wellness-events.html

Cheese Dip

Recipe of the Week

April 11 is National Cheese Fondue Day! 🧀

Try this vegan Cashew Queso Dip for a different spin on fondue night. Cashews are rich in fiber, heart-healthy fats, and plant protein. They’re also a good source of copper, magnesium, and manganese — nutrients important for energy production, brain health, immunity, and bone health.