November 2021 Open Line
Isaiah 117 House Breaks Ground in Knoxville
The Knox County Isaiah 117 House broke ground on Sunday, Nov. 14 in Knoxville on Mill Road to help ease the transition for children entering state's custody as they await placement. The home will supply comfortable living spaces, food, clothes, office space for DCS workers, and potential visitation space, as well as provide an opportunity for volunteers to help make a difference in the lives of children entering care in Knox County.
The current timeline is to have the house built and ready for children by June 2022.
In Cocke County, an Isaiah 117 Celebration with Thanksgiving Baskets
Cary Christian School, as part of the school's service project, teamed with the Cocke County Isaiah 117 House and hosted a dinner for the DCS staff, Isaiah House volunteers, and families on Nov. 17.
The school also made Thanksgiving Dinner Baskets for each Foster Home in Cocke County. The basket is filled with everything needed for a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner along with the gift card to be used to buy a turkey or ham.
Also in each basket a Xander Therapy Bunny is to be given to each home.
The Cocke County 117 House will be the first one to open in the Smoky Mountain Region and the ribbon cutting
is set for Nov. 29 at 4:00 p.m.
-- Ashley Westaway
Your DCS Wellness Council is here to help you end 2021 on a (healthy) high note! Check out these ongoing and upcoming events:
- OVERCOMING EMOTIONAL EATING: We’re hosting a webinar on Monday, November 22 from 12:30 – 1:00 p.m.
Central! We all have struggles in our lives. And they often come with feelings like stress, anger, and loneliness. Many of us eat to cope with these feelings. In this session, we’ll talk about healthy ways to overcome emotional eating. Download this calendar event HERE.
- VIRTUAL HEALTHY RECIPE SWAP: We want to see your favorite healthy recipes! Please share your recipe using this Google Form by Wednesday, November 24.
- SOUND SLEEP CHALLENGE: Get practice with healthy sleep habits that can give you an optimal night's rest in this challenge starting Sunday, December 5 through Saturday, December 18. Let us know you want to join HERE.
- 12 DAYS OF FITMAS: Get fit and have fun with this festive, physical activity challenge! The 12 Days of “Fitmas” will start on Saturday, December 11 with the 1st Day of “Fitmas” exercise. Then, on the 2nd Day of "Fitmas", you will do the exercise for that day PLUS the exercise for the 1st Day, and so on - just like the song! Interested in joining? Sign-up HERE.
TFACTS ENHANCEMENT UPGRADE: Nov. 10-15
To install new features in DCS’ child welfare information system — TFACTS — we’re planning a four-day pause in system access, to install the newly enhanced functionality.
Why it matters:
- We’re always refining TFACTS to make it easier to use and more powerful. The newest update will be a big step forward.
- For instance, the new features will include: Upgraded payment processing including automatic payment adjustments Stronger tools to link payments to the services that are provided
- New, more powerful features to track the effectiveness of the service we’re providing to children and families, boosting our ability to provide evidence-based outcome measures.
- The installation begins Wednesday, Nov. 10 at 5 p.m. CT, at which time you will no longer be able to enter any information into TFACTS. We expect that TFACTS will be available again Monday, Nov. 15 at 8 am.
- During the pause, staff will be able to use the TFACTS test environment, also called the “TFACTS Playground,” to conduct searches, research notes, review case histories, and lookup data. That information will be current through Nov. 6. Remember: Staff should not enter or save information in the TFACTS Playground. You can access it here: TFACTS Login (TN.gov)
- The Child Abuse Hotline will remain staffed and running. Please continue to report concerns of abuse and neglect by phone at 877-237-0004 and specialized lines for professionals.
- The web-based service for making referrals to the Child Abuse Hotline will not be available while we upgrade TFACTS, and the website will direct individuals to the available reporting methods. Reports will be screened and assigned to Child Protective Services staff.
- We have timed the pause so it will not affect foster-parent and adoptive-parent payment schedules.
What to do now
Print and/or copy any information from TFACTS that may be needed for court or other meetings during the pause period (5 p.m. CT, Wednesday, Nov. 10 – 8 a.m. CT, Monday, Nov. 15.)
If you need help or want to pass along information
- Our staff of Field Customer Care Representatives is ready to answer questions from DCS staff and providers.
- The FCCRs will be available to troubleshoot any issues staff or providers may have during the pause and when TFACTS goes live again on Monday, Nov. 15. Find the FCCR in your region here on teamtn.gov or on the map below.
- DCS Training staff will also be available starting November 15 if users have questions. More information will be sent on how to contact training staff.
- Foster parents will be directed to contact their regional foster parent support staff if they have questions or issues with the enhanced TFACTS.
Ronya Faulkner Honored by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Nashville – The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services top training specialist has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for the excellence of her service to the state’s children and families. Ronya Faulkner serves as the department’s director of Training and Professional Development, a role in which she guides and supports staff members and foster families who are determined to provide permanency for children in foster care.
“We’re thrilled by this well-deserved honor for Ronya,” said DCS Commissioner Jennifer Nichols. “We’re proud of what it says about the trauma-informed work taking place every day at DCS to build better lives for the children and families we serve. This award is a testament to Ronya and our staff who work tirelessly to support our foster families and achieve permanency for Tennessee’s children waiting in foster care.” The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families has awarded Faulkner with a 2021 Adoption Excellence Award in the category of Individual/Professional Contributions.
Faulkner was nominated by the non-profit organization Spaulding for Children “for the many extraordinary professional contributions” she has made throughout her career to promote permanency for foster children. HHS noted that Faulkner “used innovation and technology to meet the training needs of families in Tennessee, “while recognizing that many families participating in those programs might not have strong tech skills. She “arranged for the development of a computer lab where families could come for technology support.”
The Adoption Excellence Awards honor states, local agencies, private organizations, courts, businesses, individuals, and families making key contributions to increasing the number of children from foster care who are adopted or placed in other permanent homes, according to HHS. Faulkner brings 27 years of DCS experience to her current role.
“One of my philosophies is we must properly train foster parents by laying down a solid foundation -- to equip them with the appropriate skills to care for children with trauma,”’ Faulkner said. ”We have no option but to be successful in our training with foster parents so they can be impactful with our children and the families. This award would not be possible without our awesome training staff or our wonderful foster parents.”
Last fiscal year, Faulkner and her team trained more than 12,000 foster parents and prospective foster parents, helping to equip them with the skills and knowledge needed to successfully build relationships with foster children and provide them with safe and nurturing homes. Faulkner’s team researches the latest and most effective foster-parenting techniques, then incorporates those into the DCS training curriculum.
“Thankfully, we are more trauma-informed now, so our training allows parents to effectively parent kiddos who have experienced trauma,” said Faulkner.
Faulkner’s team trains foster parents on how to work effectively with birth families as supports and mentors. For those children who are adopted, the DCS trainers prep families about how to make those transitions smoother. And for the youth who age out of foster care, Faulkner’s staff anticipates what a young adult will need if they are heading out into the world on their own -- and how a foster parent can help them prepare.
Faulkner was recognized Tuesday in a National Adoption Month celebration held virtually by the Children’s Bureau and AdoptUSKids for public child welfare agencies across the country. In addition to the presentation of the awards, Tuesday’s celebration highlighted the national adoption campaign “Every Conversation Matters,” which encourages the adoption of older youth from foster care.
Groundbreaking for Kiana's House
From Lisa Brookover and WTVF:
A transitional house broke ground in Clarksville on Paradise Hill Road to help fill the growing need for housing children who are in the state's custody. The effort is led by nonprofit Going Global and Mosaic Church. "Kiana’s House" has a goal of adding 50 new foster homes in the first 36 months of its opening. The home will supply comfortable living spaces, food, clothes, office space for DCS workers, family counseling and visitation spaces, and will provide an opportunity for volunteers to help make a difference in the lives of children and their foster families."
Monday, Nov. 15 is National Clean Out Your Fridge Day!
BRAIN GAME WITH WFHTN Let’s give our brains a little workday break! Please join WFHTN for live,
virtual jeopardy on Tuesday, November 16 from 1-1:15 PM Central. (Prizes are up for grabs!)
- What to Expect: WFHTN Wellness Coordinator, Lindsey, will be leading. No equipment is required.
- Download your calendar event HERE. (password: gametime)
Quitting smoking isn’t easy.
It takes time. And a plan.
Let the Great American Smokeout event (on Thursday, Nov. 18) be the day you start your (or someone you love) journey toward a smoke-free life. Check out “How to Help Someone Quit Smoking” to learn more.
You can also test your own knowledge with this short four-question Tobacco-Free Living Quiz.
LET’S SWAP (HEALTHY) RECIPES!
As the holidays are approaching and a ton of food will be prepared, the DCS Wellness Council would like to see your favorite healthy recipes. Please share your recipe using this Google Form by Wednesday, Nov. 24.
OVERCOMING EMOTIONAL EATING (WEBINAR)
Please join us for an “Overcoming Emotional Eating” webinar which will take place on Monday, Nov. 22 from 12:30 – 1:00 CT.
- Description: We all have struggles in our lives. And they often come with feelings like stress, anger, and loneliness. Many of us eat to cope with these feelings. But this can lead to weight gain. In this session, we’ll talk about healthy ways to overcome emotional eating.
- Download the calendar event for this webinar HERE.
Kim Garland an ETSU Distinguished Almuna
Congratulations to Kim Garland for receiving the ETSU Distinguished Alumna Award from Dr. Don Samples, dean of the College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences. Kim is the CPS Director for the Northeast and Smoky Regions with almost 20 years of frontline and supervisory experience on a regional and statewide level.
She received her undergraduate and MSW degree from ETSU and is also an adjunct professor in the School of Social Work. Her hard work and accomplishments in the early development of the Drug Exposed Infant teams, Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Minors policy/practice improvements, and her contributions to the regional child abuse task force were acknowledged during the awards ceremony.
Also noted were Kim’s passion for families impacted by substance abuse and her involvement in the grassroots efforts to collaborate with community partners to address women’s addiction and treatment issues.
Partnering with leaders such as Judge Bailey, Dr. Stephen Lloyd, and Ballad Health culminated in a residential treatment facility in Greene County serving 10 counties which allows mothers to obtain treatment while being able to care for their infants.
Halloween Costume Contest Winners
Trivia Contest Winners: Julia Watzlavick & Kristian Strunk (Plus answers)
- What is the No. 1 city for trick or treating in the United States? San Francisco
- What color cat is a symbol of Halloween? Black
- What mammal is able to fly and is associated with Halloween? Bat
- What bone, found in the head, is often used as a symbol of Halloween? Skull
- What date is Halloween celebrated? Oct. 31
- What do witches use to ride in order to get around town? Broomstick
- How many licks does it take, on average, to reach the center of a Tootsie Pop? 252!
- What does seeing a spider on Halloween signify? That a loved one is watching over you
- What fruit is carved up on Halloween and placed outside for children to see, and what color is it? Pumpkin, orange
- Complete the following chant, normally said by witches: double, double, toil and …? TROUBLE
A barrier is something that keeps you from doing something else. If you're not active, it's likely that you have at least one barrier or reason why. Perhaps you've never been very active. Maybe you're afraid that you'll worsen an old injury.
Think about what is keeping you from being active and then check out some of the American Diabetes Association’s solutions to the most common barriers to physical activity HERE.
Ready for an activity break to help you feel energized and motivated? It’s time for our next Virtual Workout with Working for a Healthier Tennessee! Join us on Tuesday, November 9 from 9:30-9:45 a.m. Central/10:30-10:45 a.m. Eastern.
- Workout: WFHTN Wellness Coordinator Kayla will be leading a cardio/strength circuit for ALL fitness levels.
- Attire: Anything you can move in!
- Equipment Needed: Dumbbells optional for strength exercises. (Water bottles or canned goods also make good small weights.)
Please sign this digital waiver prior to the live workout.
Download the calendar appointment for this event HERE.
Cold Weather Exercise and Stretching Webinar
Don’t let cold weather slow you down. You don’t have to stop being active when the weather turns cold. You just have to
prepare for it. In the U.S., we sit a lot – whether it’s at work or in our cars.
This, plus the cold weather, can affect our bodies over time.
Join the next #4Mind4Body webinar on Wednesday, November 17 from 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Central.
** Pre-registration required at https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/finance/fa-benefits/documents/4mind4body_flier.pdf **
Shannon Romans writes us:
This Hamilton visitation room renovation was a joint project between our local foster parent association and Bayside Baptist Church. Lori Hammond, one of our resource linkage staff, was in the office with them on Saturday as they worked. Here's Lori's report:
"I have always said that the philanthropic spirit of this community is unmatched!! Never was that more evident than today. Twelve volunteers from Bayside Baptist Church came in like gangbusters!
"Several of the ladies gathered and hand-wrote thank you cards to our case managers. The younger members and all of the men unpacked boxes and set about putting together all the types of toys and wooden items they had ordered. They left our visitation rooms in spectacular fashion. They also left goodie treats on the shelf for FC staff and CPS staff."
Here4TN and their partner for financial education, MSA, will be hosting two financial wellness webinars in the coming months. These webinars will be recorded so if you are unable to attend the live session you will have access to the recording after the webinar is completed. Just go to Here4TN.com > Member Benefits > click the “Financial Webinars” button to view the recording.
Wednesday, November 3 from 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – A Holiday Planning Guide
MSA will share best practices for planning, saving, and spending during the holidays. They will also discuss online ideas and sites for holiday shopping and planning as well as important dates to remember.
To register for the session, please use the registration button in the flyer.
November marks National Diabetes Month and this year’s focus is on prediabetes and preventing diabetes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1 in 3 U.S. adults have prediabetes—but the majority of people DON'T even know they have it!
Use this health observance to increase your own awareness of this topic by checking out this flyer from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) on small steps that make a big difference.
Let’s take a mental virtual break to help lower stress and bring some calm into your day. This will take place on Tuesday, November 2 from 1-1:15 PM Central/2-2:15 PM Eastern.
What to Expect: WFHTN Wellness Coordinator Morgan will be leading mindfulness practices that you can take with you throughout your day and life. This will be a chance to relax and learn techniques for becoming more mindful. No equipment is needed! Download the calendar appointment for this event HERE.
Making the Holidays Happier
"Making the Holidays Happier" (hosted by Here4TN) helps employees identify some of the factors that contribute to holiday stress. It also explores a variety of ways to create the kind of holiday celebration that meets individual needs.
Attendees will be able to make better choices for the holidays while lowering stress levels, improving family relationships, and having more fun. Participants will:
- Identify factors that contribute to holiday stress
- Practice techniques for keeping expectations realistic
- Make a plan for approaching the holidays differently this year
- Determine coping strategies that promote well-being throughout this season
Click HERE to register for Nov. 4 from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. Central. (Registration required.)
- Mondays from 12-12:15 p.m. Central: Yoga for All with Sophia (Download this series.) **Note: This series starts November 8.
- Wednesdays from 12-12:15 p.m. Central: Yoga for All (Download this series.)
- Wednesdays from 11-11:10 a.m. Central: DHS 10-Minute Fitness Break (Webex link to join.)
- Thursdays from 11-11:15 a.m. Central: DCS Fitness Break (Download this series.)
- Fridays from 12:15-12:45 p.m. Central: Yoga: Core&More (Download series.)
Camille Legins Has Left the Building
DCS colleagues from across the state gathered this week in Nashville to bid farewell to DCS veteran and Network Development Director Camille Legins, who is leaving the department Friday after more than two decades of state service
- "She is truly an exceptional person who through sheer grit, dedication, and determination, became the “go-to” for so many of us. When it became clear that our best persuasive arguments were not going to result in Camille changing her mind, we resigned ourselves to working with her to ensure a smooth transition. We will miss you, Camille; even more, than you can know and there are many children and families in Tennessee who’ve benefited from your commitment to serve them." -- Jennifer Nichols and Sandra Wilson
- "I have made one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made, which is to leave my position at DCS. My last official day will be Friday, October 22, 2021. As Winnie The Pooh would say… 'Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart'… As I look back over the last 22+ years with the Department of Children Services, this quote is so true, the work, the people, and the lives which have been touched along the way sure take up a lot of room in my heart. Many of you have played a special role in my professional and personal development over the years in which I will be forever grateful, the words of encouragement on the tough days and the words of “suck it up buttercup” just when I needed to hear it the most have gotten me through the best and most difficult of days as a public servant." -- Camille Legins
Effective Monday, Oct. 25, 2021, Lindsay Coleman, the current Director of Permanency Planning will step into the position of Executive Director of Child Programs. Lindsay has been with DCS for more than 18 years and her previous history includes supervision in all programs administered by the department. Since 2016 she has worked in Central Office as a director in the Office of Child Programs.
Also, effective Monday, Frank Mix, the current Director of Internal Data Management, Reports, and PBC Support, will assume responsibility as the Executive Director of Network Development/Provider Relations. Frank has been with DCS for 28 years, having served as a Regional Administrator, an F&A Project Manager, and in various Central Office management positions.
Outstanding! This week our Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children team was notified that they're being honored for their outstanding performance.
"I am so proud of all of you!'' Rosie Heath said to her team. "People mentioned how great you all are to work with and so productive with timely responses and studies for permanency for children and families."
"This is amazing! I am so proud of our ICPC team and to get such validation and recognition in the midst of a very challenging team across the country is truly inspiring. Thank you for working so hard for the kids; I have received multiple emails from the people you have helped!" -- Jennifer Nichols