August 2023 Open Line

Nakieta Salas

Remembering Nakieta Salas

It is with a heavy heart we share that a link has been removed from the Shelby DCS chain. FSW3 Nakieta Salas transitioned to be with her Heavenly Father on Monday 8-28-23.  Nakieta was hired as an FSW on the Family Support Services team on 4-26-2021. Nakieta was a great worker, and she moved up the ranks quickly in her 2 years with DCS. In October 2022, Nakieta was promoted to an FSW3 on the Court Liaison team, where she served a month before becoming ill. Nakieta was described by her supervisors as a leader, resilient, helpful, a team player, irreplaceable asset, selfless, a true fighter, motivational, and overall positive in her attitude.  She openly shared testimonies of her life experiences that were aimed at motivating others towards doing their best. Nakieta was married with 2 children, a son and a daughter. Nakieta loved cats. Nakieta Salas will truly be missed. Her inner and outer beauty cannot be replaced.

One Year with CMQ

Can you believe it’s been one year since DCS Commissioner Margie Quin was sworn in?

Over the past 365 days, every layer of the department has been hard at work implementing change and overcoming many challenges. The Commissioner recently spent time visiting staff in Knox, Upper Cumberland, and East regions. We’re so appreciative of the difficult work you are all doing.

Here’s a video recognizing some of the accomplishments from the past year. 

TN Safe Baby Courts

Safe Baby Courts program expands

The Department of Children’s Services (DCS) in partnership with the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) and the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (DMHSAS) is pleased to announce eight new sites for the state’s Safe Baby Courts (SBC) program, bringing the total number of SBCs in Tennessee to 22.

The new sites include Bradley County, Dekalb County, Gibson County, Hamilton County, Johnson City, Perry County, Robertson County, and Sevier County. The eight expansion sites will begin offering services to families in 2024.

Tennessee’s SBC program serves children ages 0 through 3 who are in foster care or at risk of being placed in foster care. The goal is to reduce the incidence of child abuse, neglect, and endangerment while providing permanent and stable homes for those children, reducing the amount of time they spend in foster care.

The addition of these eight new sites will further enhance the state’s network of support and resources dedicated to helping families overcome obstacles and achieve reunification.

Special shout out to DCS Deputy General Counsel Sammi Maifair who is the Statewide Coordinator for the program and puts a lot of hard work into making it as successful as it is!

School Supplies

Members of the Campbell County foster care staff handed out school supplies to children during the city of Lafollette’s 40th annual National Night Out. The team also shared information on becoming a foster parent. Thanks to the staff members for being so active in their community!

National Night Out
Pictured from left to right: TL Misty Rutherford, Support staff member Victoria Campbell, Foster Care FSW Autumn Holloway, Foster Care FSW Van Ball, & TC Donna Valandingham.
DCS is Verified

DCS is Verified

The DCS Facebook & Instagram pages are now VERIFIED with a fancy blue checkmark! We’ve also launched an account on the new platform @Threads. Please follow these pages and invite your friends/family to do the same! We’re focused on posting thoughtful & engaging content to expand our reach & audience. You may have seen the recent post on the DCS main Facebook page about a mother of twins who is in the EFC program. It received more than 1,400 likes and 350 shares (that’s a lot!).  We’re so glad we can showcase positive success stories like this one. Thanks to the Independent Living team for sharing the photos and information with us. If you have positive or special stories in your region, please send them to Ashley Zarach with the communications team! (

Facebook Verified

Congratulations to the July & August Employees of the Month

Channing Tuttle

Channing Tuttle – Program Coordinator for Permanency Planning

I want to recognize Channing Tuttle for her work. Recently she has helped several foster parents who have reached out to central office for help. Channing also carries overflow foster care cases for Davidson region and provides Davidson staff direct assistance helping them transition kids on their caseloads who are eligible for the CHOICES program. This is detailed work that is relieved from the region so that they can work on other priorities. Channing is always willing to help, accepts any responsibility that is asked of her, and provides outstanding advocacy for our foster children and customer service to our foster parents. Much of this is ‘behind the scenes work’ but she does it happily without any recognition." - Lindsay Coleman, Child Programs Executive Director

Hayes o'Donnell

Hayes O’Donnell – Legislative Liaison for Office of the Commissioner

Hayes went above and beyond while I was out on paternity leave. I was gone for 2 months, and our office did not skip a beat. We are a small team. Just a couple months ago, there were only two of us Hayes and I, but we do enough work that our team is expanding to 5. Hayes handled the bulk of the work of the office for these two months and did so with poise and great results. In particular, she handled items related to the COA accreditation for our office, she handled many constituent concerns and responses, and helped with many additional legislative and rules projects. I can’t thank her enough and we heard positive response from many legislators and external stakeholders during this time.” -Jim Layman, Legislation & Policy Executive Director

Adoption Success Stories

Highlighting a few recent adoption stories that were brought to the attention of the Communications Department. Please continue sharing these incredible and inspirational stories with us!

SHELBY REGION: After being in foster care for almost 7 years, Ga’Khia Holley (17), Ga’Mya Holley (13), and Ga’Kayla Holley (16) had their adoptions finalized recently. Congratulations to Holleys and their adoptive mother, Ms. Shirley Cannon. 

SOUTH CENTRAL REGION:  Deacon Chapman spent more than 3 years in foster care. His adoption was finalized. Congratulations to Deacon, his adoptive mother, and his extended family! 

SOUTH CENTRAL REGION: Wanted. Chosen. Loved. Adopted. Kenadee Marie Stroud officially joined her forever family on 8.24.23. As you can see, the Stroud family proudly showed up for Kenadee on her special day. Congratulations!!

Tammie Williams

Notable retirements

Tammie Williams

After 38 years of state service with the Department of Children’s Services in Shelby County, Deputy Regional Director Tammie Williams is now officially retired. Tammie joined the Department on April 16, 1986, as a Social Counselor in the Foster Care Department. She rose through the ranks to become a Trainer, Master Trainer, Team Leader, Team Coordinator and retired as a Deputy Director. Best wishes to Tammie in all future endeavors!!

Paulette Ragland

Paulette Ragland retired after 40 years with the state! She was celebrated at Central Office on Aug. 31 where she also received an Award of Merit for her incredible length of service. Thank you for 40 years. Enjoy retirement, Paulette!

Why I Love DCS

We all know regional teams have incredibly difficult jobs at times, but they show up every day because they love helping children and families. We want to thank staff from our Knox County region for sharing these messages about why they love working at DCS.

Published Author

We want to give a shout-out to DCS employee Stephen Flynn. He is an OCS Case Manager in our Northeast Region. Not only did Stephen recently graduate from Liberty University with his Master’s Degree, but he also published his first book called CHANOA: ROSE COLORED GLASSES. It’s about the unsung hero of a social worker Here’s a link if you’re interested in ordering it.

Stephen Flynn Book

DCS Wellness Council

We need more Wellness Council members! Do you care about your health? Do you want a chance to win some cool prizes? Do you want to get to know other DCS employees? Join the Wellness Council! It doesn’t require a lot of extra commitment, and there are many ways to participate that are sensitive to everyone’s time! You can also use the membership initiatives on your IPP. This opportunity is open for ALL DCS employees, regardless of where you’re located throughout the state. If you’re interested in joining, let any of the members know (listed below). You can also send an email to:

Current members include: Venus Singleton, Nicole Hussey, Jessica Bell, Ashley Zarach

CPS Graduation

Congratulations to our newest class of CPS graduates! These front-line workers came to Nashville for the intensive two-week training that focuses on the skills needed to investigate reports of abuse and neglect.  

CPS August Graduation
Mother-Daughter Due

DCS Mother-Daughter Duo

Let us introduce you to Katrina and Brittney Oliver, mother and daughter. Both work for DCS Social Services in our Shelby County region. Katrina has been with the department since 2007. Brittney started her career with DCS earlier this year. Mom Katrina's response when she found out Brittney had accepted a position with the department..."IT MAKES ME PROUD!" We are proud, too! Thanks to ALL our DCS staff members who are passionate about helping children and families in Tennessee!!

Mindfulness Matters

Did you know every Wednesday from 9-9:30 am central our amazing Julie Rotella - Assistant Commissioner of Administration – hosts a Mindfulness Matters session? It’s a great way to learn how to regulate emotions, stress, and all the things that can come at us on a given day. You can join the virtual sessions as often or as little as you’d like. Email Julie ( and she will make sure you’re included! 

Fall Foster Parent Conference

REGISTRATION DEADLINE IS SEPTEMBER 1ST for our fall Foster Parent Conference. The virtual training event will take place September 8-9th. Here is a link where you can find more information.

Foster Parent Conference
Best of Me is in 2023

August 25, 2023

Find Your Flow Yoga Challenge

Find Your Flow Yoga Challenge

Sept. 11-22

Take on this beginner-friendly two-week challenge to discover which style of yoga feels good to you. Follow the provided calendar to try a variety of yoga practices on your own, while boosting your physical and mental health. You’ll have the opportunity to try seated, standing and floor yoga.  At the end of the challenge, complete the submission form for a chance to win one of three prizes! To participate, sign up by Thursday, Sept. 7:

Looking for even more ways to get active?

Make it easy on yourself to move more with these tips from the American Heart Association:

Nutrition Facts

Upcoming Virtual Events

Get the Facts on Food Labels
Tuesday, Aug. 29 from 1-1:30 p.m. CT
Learn how to become a smart shopper by reading food labels. Join Registered Dietitian and Wellness Coordinator Morgan Blake to learn how to find good food sources of fiber and calcium, compare the fat and calorie content of similar foods, and look for foods low in saturated fats.

Download calendar invite.

You can access all upcoming activities, webinars, and workouts at

Can’t attend a live event?

Check out Working for a Healthier Tennessee’s Healthy Eating Resources.

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Mindfulness Matters
Every Wednesday, 9 to 9:30 a.m. CT
Please click the below link to join. No registration is needed! Look forward to partnering with you as we build our Resiliency together and take time to be Mindful. Why?  Because Mindfulness Matters! 😊

Can’t attend a live event?

Check out the 8/16 Mindfulness Matters recordings:

Trail Mix

Recipe of the Week

August 31 is National Trail Mix Day!

Celebrate with this Healthier Trail Mix. Trail mix is incredibly versatile! You can mix in different nuts, dried fruits, etc. that you enjoy. Nuts are a source of protein and heart-healthy fats. Keep in mind that a serving is approximately a handful or ¼ cup.

August 18, 2023

Stop Smoking

Stop Smoking

Do you or a loved one want to stop smoking? Create a Quit Plan!
State health plan members also have access to Tobacco Quit Aids as well as telephonic and online group coaching available through ActiveHealth Management. To enroll ActiveHealth coaching, call 888-741-3390.

Here4TN Financial Resources

Upcoming Virtual Events

Here4TN Financial Resources
Thursday, Aug. 24 from 12-12:15 p.m. CT

Learn about the financial resources offered through the Here4TN Employee Assistance Program.

Download calendar invite.

You can access all upcoming activities, webinars and workouts at

Can’t attend a live event?

Check out Here4TN’s Financial and Legal Resources.

Pick TN Products

Spotlight on Pick Tennessee Products

For more than 30 years, Pick Tennessee Products has been a part of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, connecting people everywhere to all of the great things that come from Tennessee’s farms and food businesses. From produce and pumpkin patches to honey and handmade soaps, to cheeses and artisan chocolates, you can live local when you pick Tennessee products. Learn more:

Peach Ricotta Toast

Recipe of the Week

It’s peach season! Enjoy fresh peaches with this Peach Ricotta Toast.

Peaches are high in fiber, vitamins and minerals. They can help protect your body from aging and disease, aid in digestion, promote heart health, keep your skin healthy and more!

August 11, 2023

National Relaxation Day

National Relaxation Day

Did you know that Tuesday, Aug. 15 is National Relaxation Day?

Try one of these Relaxation Techniques and tell us which technique you tried.

Five participants chosen at random will win a prize!

Other ways to relax this week:

Mindfulness Matters
Every Wednesday, 9 to 9:30 a.m. CT

Please click the below link to join. No registration is needed! Look forward to partnering with you as we build our Resiliency together and take time to be Mindful. Why?  Because Mindfulness Matters! 😊

Can’t attend this live event?

Check out the 8/2 Mindfulness Matters recordings:

5-minute session:

Meditation Break with Nat
Wednesday, Aug. 16 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 state employee Nat Chapman from the Department of Human Services in partnership with Working for a Healthier Tennessee.

Download calendar invite.

Relaxation Techniques
Friday, Aug. 18 from 10-10:15 a.m. CT

Celebrate National Relaxation Day by learning about different relaxation techniques. Participants will have a chance to practice progressive muscle relaxation during this session.

Download calendar invite.

You can access all upcoming activities, webinars, and workouts at

Can’t attend a live event?

Check out this relaxing 10-minute Mindfulness Meditation. (10 minutes)

Barriers to Being Active

Upcoming Virtual Events

There are several common reasons many of us don't get enough physical activity. In this video, Wellness Coordinator Kristina Giard-Bradford discusses ways to overcome some common barriers to being active. Take this short quiz to help you overcome your barriers to exercise:

Sweet & Sour Pork Fried Rice

Recipe of the Week

Try this Sweet and Sour Pork Fried Rice!

Treat your taste buds to this tempting Asian dish bathed in a traditional Chinese flavor combo. The secret to delicious fried rice is making the rice and refrigerating it the day ahead. This allows the rice grains to firm up, decreasing the chances of the fried rice turning out mushy. Using brown rice in this recipe is a delicious way to enjoy more fiber!

August 4, 2023

Drink Some Water

48 A-Day Water Challenge!

Join our two-week 48 A-Day Water Challenge from August 14-27 in honor of World Water Week. For good health, aim to drink at least 48 ounces (6 cups) of water each day.

Sign up for the challenge by Friday, Aug. 11:

Five participants chosen at random will win a prize!

Piggy Bank

Upcoming Virtual Events

4mind4body webinar: State Retirement Plans and Resources
Wednesday, Aug. 9 starting at 11:30 a.m. CT
The session will provide an overview of the retirement benefits and resources available to you through RetireReadyTN, the state’s retirement program. Specific topics will include the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System defined benefit plan, the State of Tennessee 401(k) and 457 Plans, and how the benefits of each come together in the Hybrid and Legacy Plans. RetireReadyTN will also provide detailed information about how to maximize the benefits of each plan and take full advantage of the many financial education resources available to you through RetireReadyTN.
Click here to register.

Wellness Events

Barriers to Being Active
Thursday, Aug. 10 from 1-1:30 p.m. CT
Are you among the 30% of Tennessee adults who do not incorporate physical activity into their day? That’s okay! Learn more about your own obstacles by taking this short quiz now. Then join our webinar on Aug. 10 to brainstorm and share ideas on how you can add movement into your daily life.
Download calendar invite.
You can access all upcoming activities, webinars, and workouts at

Can’t attend a live event? Check out this Quiet Cardio Workout:

Tuna P Wiggle

Recipe of the Week

August is a busy time of year for many. This Tuna P Wiggle recipe is great for back-to-school and busy schedules. It’s quick, easy, family-friendly, travels well, and can be served warm or cold. Use whole wheat noodles to boost fiber and nutrients!