March 2023 Open Line

Marquita Adams

Employee Spotlight

Meet Marquita Adams, Division of Federal Programs at DCS. 

Marquita is the first DCS employee from Tennessee to ever be accepted into the national fellowship program, Minority Professional Leadership Development, sponsored by AdoptUSKids. 

The MPLD program is designed for emerging minority leaders working in the child welfare field. The structured program includes hands-on experience, exposure to national experts, and mentorship opportunities.

Marquita will spend the remainder of the year working on a research project with DCS Adoptions Unit and Harmony Adoptions exploring the question: If families of adopted African American youth (aged 12-17) participated in post-adoption services that are more culturally competent, age-specific, user-friendly, and accessible, would more families show an interest in and access those services?

Using the findings, Marquita hopes to implement a process to ensure youth, and families, are aware of services available to them to help facilitate a successful adoption thus reducing DCS re-entry rates.

Marquita Adams

As part of the fellowship, Marquita has traveled to Washington, DC, and will return in December to share her research findings with stakeholders. There are 19 other fellows from across the county in the project with her.

If you’re interested in learning more about the program or applying yourself, click here!

Super Saturdays

Super Saturdays

DCS 2023 Spring Conference

DCS 2023 Spring Conference

This year’s spring mini-conference will be held on Saturday, April 29, 2023. Conference attendees will be able to earn up to 6.5 hours of training credit by attending training throughout the day.

A household of two parents during the second year or after fostering will have the opportunity to earn up to 11 hours of home training credit by attending separate workshops in both the morning and afternoon sessions.

For Case Workers

For Case Managers: Multidisciplinary Team to provide support and assistance to you!

Why?  We want to provide the opportunity to Case Managers to receive case consultation in partnership with subject matter experts in Mental Health, Education, Health, Fiscal, Legal, TennCare, and more to help wrap supports and services around children, youth, and/or families.  We have taken this approach at Wilder and it has been well received.  In fact, a case manager that I have great respect for said it sure would be nice if we could do this for cases throughout the Regions!  We definitely agree with this forward-thinking and want to collaborate with case managers to help in service planning for children, youth, and families!

How?  We have set up a standing meeting on the first Monday of every month beginning on April 3rd from 1:00 to 3:00p Central.  If you would like to discuss a case, please contact Julie Rotella at  Let me know your Program Area and the County/Region where you work as well as the name of the child/family you would like to review.  Provide a very brief description of the current situation or the reason you have identified this case.  Just 2-3 sentences.


Children's Advocacy Days

Carla Aaron, Interim Deputy Commissioner of Child Programs, presented at the Children’s Advocacy Days and did an excellent job!
Children’s Advocacy Days (CAD) is an event with a 30-year history. It is an opportunity for children’s advocates, service providers, and others to come together to be inspired by speakers, leaders, and peers. The event draws approximately 600 individuals interested in children and family issues. CAD consists of training, networking, advocacy, and celebration.


Who Wants Pancakes?!

Staff in Knox County got a treat! Child Programs and OCS Directors & Team Coordinators cooked a homemade pancake breakfast for staff to show their appreciation. This is usually an annual event, but since COVID, this is the first one in 2 years. The team was so happy to get back together!

Pictured: OCS Interim Director: Ashley Westaway, FC TC’s Heather Schad, Misty Miller, Vivian Brown, Charles Baumgardner Knox Regional Director, OCS TC Tracy Davis & Interim TC Suzanne Keck

Child Abuse Awareness Community Fun Day!

Child Abuse Awareness Community Fun Day!
Best of Me is in 2023

March 31, 2023

Humor Month

April is National Humor Month

Laughter and joy lead to improved well-being, boosted morale, increased communication skills, and an enriched quality of life. Spread some humor by sharing your favorite joke with us. Pst - It could be featured on WFHTN social media!

Three participants chosen at random will win a prize from WFHTN!

Mind Full or Mindful?

Upcoming Virtual Events

Mindfulness Break
Tuesday, April 4 from 10:30-10:45 a.m. CT
April is Stress Awareness Month. Regularly practicing mindfulness has several benefits. Mindfulness can help relieve stress, lower blood pressure, improve sleep, and more. Wellness Coordinator Morgan Blake will guide participants through several simple mindfulness techniques that can be practiced throughout the day.
Download calendar invite.
You can access all upcoming WFHTN activities, webinars, and workouts at
Can’t attend the mindfulness break? Check out this video on the
5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Technique for Anxiety. (1 minute, 54 seconds)

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Empanadas

Recipe of the Week

April 8 is National Empanada Day!
Celebrate this food holiday with some tasty Sweet Potato and Black Bean Empanadas. Empanadas have their origins in Galicia (Spain) and Portugal. Did you know that both sweet potatoes and black beans can promote good eye health?

March 24, 2023

Bloom Into Spring Challenge

Bloom Into Spring Challenge

The temperatures are rising and the flowers are blooming, so let's get moving! Join this steps challenge and see how much you bloom over the next four weeks. The goal is to take as many steps as YOU can each week. (Throughout the challenge, check on your weekly step status using this graphic.) You also have the option to convert any aerobic activity you do into steps.

Optional: You can keep track of your steps using this challenge tracker.

At the end, you'll submit your weekly step count.

Five participants chosen at random will win a prize!

Are you ready to bloom into spring? Sign up for the optional Microsoft Teams chat and/or weekly communications by Friday, April 7.

Green Smoothie

Upcoming Virtual Events

Green Smoothie Demo with Lindsey
Thursday, March 30 from 12-12:15 p.m. CT
Come blend-a-long as WFHTN Wellness Coordinator and Registered Dietitian Lindsey Joe shows you how to make a simple green smoothie.
Download calendar invite

Supplies & Ingredients Needed:

  • Blender
  • 2 cups raw spinach leaves
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup frozen mango
  • 1 cup pineapple
  • 2 frozen bananas, sliced

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

Hot Chicken Day

Recipe of the Day

March 30 is National Hot Chicken Day! 🍗

If you’re looking for new air fryer recipes, try this delicious Air-Fryer Nashville Hot Chicken recipe. This cooking method and recipe use less oil, making it heart healthier and still delicious!

March 17, 2023

National Nutrition Month

It’s National Nutrition Month!

There are several ways to celebrate:

Enjoy: Eat Your Veggies Word Scramble

Learn: Frozen Food Myths & Facts


Last week, state employees gathered to test their healthy eating knowledge. If you couldn’t join the fun, take this quiz by Thursday, April 6 for a chance to win one of three prizes!

Healthy Eating Trivia:

Yoga Stretch

Upcoming Virtual Events

Stretches for Better Sleep

Friday, March 24 from 10-10:15 a.m. CT

Ready for a stretch break to help you relieve tension and sleep better? Wellness Coordinator and Certified Yoga Teacher Kristina will lead a stretch and relaxation session for ALL fitness levels. This session will include some stretches on the floor. (Modifications will be offered).

Attire: Anything you can move in!

Equipment needed: A chair without wheels. A yoga mat or blanket is helpful, or a clean open floor space.

Download calendar invite.

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

Oatmeal Waffles

Recipe of the Week

Saturday, March 25 is National Waffle Day!

Celebrate with these Freezer-Friendly Oatmeal Waffles.

This recipe uses oats. Studies show that oats have many health benefits. These include weight loss, lower blood sugar levels and a reduced risk of heart disease.

March 10, 2023

Green Clover

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Let’s eat more GREEN! Join our one-week Green Plate Challenge to enjoy more servings of GREEN fruits and vegetables at your meals and snacks.

Green Plate Challenge Tracker:

Green Plate Challenge Submission Form:

Submit your completed challenge tracker by Friday, March 31.
Three participants chosen at random will win a prize! 🏆

Upcoming Virtual Events

Upcoming Virtual Events 

Meditation Break with Nat
Wednesday, March 15 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.

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Healthy Eating Trivia
Thursday, March 16 from 1-1:30 p.m. CT

Celebrate National Nutrition Month by testing your healthy eating knowledge! Can’t join us live? A link to this quiz will be available at after March 16.

What to expect: WFHTN Wellness Coordinator Morgan will lead trivia. The top three winners will be awarded a prize plus an additional prize will be given to a participant chosen at random! We’ll play using Mentimeter. A link to play will be provided the day of the activity.

Download calendar invite.

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

Vegan Green Soup

Recipe of the Week

Get in your greens with this Vegan Green Soup! Spinach is a superstar among green leafy vegetables. This low-calorie food is full of nutrients that are good for your body in several ways. From boosting the immune system -- your body's defense against germs -- to helping your heart, it's a great way to enjoy many important nutrients!

March 3, 2023

Employee Spirit Month

March is Employee Spirit Month!

Get into the spirit and complete the WFHTN Scavenger Hunt:

Complete the hunt by Friday, March 31.

Five participants chosen at random will win a prize!

Too busy to eat healthy.

Upcoming Virtual Events

I’m Too Busy to Eat Healthy (Presented by Optum)
Tuesday, March 7 from 10:30 - 11 a.m. CT
Learn the basics of eating well, why we should do it, and how we can make it work in our busy lives. We’ll cover myths about healthy eating and weight loss, the science behind balanced diets, and healthy meal suggestions for busy people.
Register here.

Relaxation and Sleep Well

Join the next 4Mind4Body webinar:

Practice Relaxation and Sleep Well
Wednesday, March 8 from 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. CT
Did you know more than 3 out of 10 adults in the United States don’t get the right amount of sleep? Good sleep is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. Getting poor sleep or not getting enough sleep can harm your physical, mental, and emotional health. Learn healthy habits to have better sleep patterns.
Register here.
You can access all upcoming activities, webinars, and workouts at

Penne with Shrimp

Recipe of the Week

Get your noodles in by trying this Cajun Shrimp Pasta. This recipe is filled with fiber from whole wheat noodles, bell peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, and green onions. Enjoy!