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Child Health Nurses

What DCS Child Health Nurses Do

Child Health Nurses serve to support Family Service Workers, parents/guardians, foster parents and service providers with guidance and technical assistance in navigating the health care system.

The nurse reviews and interprets medical records and treatment plans for children who require medical intervention and work with TennCare regarding the provision of services, accessibility issues and case management services for children in state custody.

The nurses also: 

  • provide consultation and education to case managers and foster, adoptive, and biological parents on medical issues related to children and provide advocacy for children in custody and those who are at-risk.
  • assist with coordination of children’s health services with community partners and work with community service providers, including hospitals, pediatricians and other health care providers regarding services, medical necessity and accessibility issues.   
  • may attend Child Family Team Meetings for children with medical needs to provide consultation regarding a child’s medical condition and any prescribed medications, abilities and behaviors.

Common Issues Child Health Nurses Address

  • If your child has just had an Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) screening and there are recommendations for follow-up services, the nurse can help you understand what the recommendations mean and how to get follow-up services.
  • The nurse can request a waiver for your medically fragile child to see their primary care provider for EPSDT services rather than going to the local Health Department.
  • If your child has serious medical problems and has frequent doctor appointments and therapy sessions, the nurse can get case management services from TennCare and assist with coordination and monitoring of all medically necessary health care services.
  • The nurses track and monitor all prescribed psychotropic medications for children in custody, as well as dosage changes. They can sign consents for psychotropic medication when the parent or guardian is not available for children under age 16. They also can provide consent for surgical procedures in the absence of a parent or guardian.
  • Please read: Informed Consent for Providers.

What Child Safety Nurses Do

  • Child Safety Nurses provide technical assistance to front line child protective services investigators regarding pediatric medical and mental health conditions, child development and behavior, child trauma and abuse, and child mortality.
  • The nurse provides consultation to CPS workers, Family Service Workers and DCS legal representatives pertaining to childhood medical, trauma and abuse issues when children are brought into custody.
  • The nurse reviews and interprets medical records and treatment plans, as requested by CPS case managers, for children requiring medical intervention and makes recommendation if appropriate.
  • The nurse provides consultation to CPS case managers and foster, adoptive and biological parents regarding the impact of a child’s medical condition on the child’s abilities and behaviors.

What Youth Development Center Nurses Do

Each Youth Development Center operated by DCS has a medical clinic with a staff of nurses, a medical doctor, a psychiatrist and a dentist. The nurses provide primary medical care and arrange appointments for youth to be seen by the doctors and dentist. They administer prescribed and over-the-counter medications and provide sick call every day.

Sick call is a process by which a youth can request to be seen for a medical, dental or mental health issue. For simple requests or health complaints, the nurse can provide first aid, medication, or other treatment as needed. For more complex requests or health complaints, the nurse can arrange for the youth to see a doctor or dentist for treatment.

If a youth requires medical care beyond what the Youth Development Center physician, dentist or medical associate can provide, the nurse will arrange for a medical specialist in the community to see the youth. (If a parent or youth requests to see a health care provider other than those contracted with DCS or arranged by the medical staff, the parent will be responsible for any costs incurred.)

Nurses provide convalescent care for youth recovering from an illness or injury either on-site or utilizing community resources.

Each health clinic has the capability of providing 24 hour nursing care for youth who need to be in the infirmary for medical reasons.

The nurses also provide education and guidance on various health issues that affect youth including:

  • Immunizations against communicable disease
  • Screening to detect chronic, treatable conditions
  • Education about infectious disease to prevent future transmission
  • Instruction in managing chronic conditions to avoid serious complications
  • Wellness program and activities such as exercise
  • Environment and infection control practices
  • Individual education for a youth’s specific health issues