Foster Care


Foster care is meant to be a temporary service until the family and in some cases, the child can address the problems that made placement necessary. But, when parents cannot, or will not, make their home safe for the child’s return, other permanent options are sought. 

The Department of Children's Services is intentional in seeking dedicated foster parents to care for children in our custody. Through regional recruitment planning and state-wide marketing campaigns, we engage potential foster parents. 

  • Regional and local community engagement 
  • Referrals from existing foster parents
  • Inquiries received through our toll-free inquiry line
  • Posts and links on our social media platforms
  • Learn more about foster care in Tennessee in this section.  

If you are interested in fostering a child or learning more about becoming a Foster Parent for Tennessee children, please call 877-DCS-KIDS or fill out this easy inquiry form

DCS Foster Parent Placement Initiatives FAQ

Children/ youth twelve (12) years of age or older and children/youth of any age who are part of a sibling group of two or more, placed in a DCS foster home, whose placement began on 2/15/23 or after.

Foster care board rates are adjusted for the eligible population to $50.00 per day, per child.  If the child/youth remains in the foster home at the six (6) month mark, they will receive a bonus of $2000.00.

Yes, if they meet the eligibility requirements.

No. The incentive program is an effort to create stable long-term placements for children who are more difficult to place.  Initiatives are evaluated based on the results and can be adjusted if the outcomes warrant adjustment. There is no end date identified at this time.

It depends.  The goal is to find permanent placement.  However, if a foster parent accepts a placement on a temporary basis and meets all the child/youth’s needs during that placement including (but not limited to) meals and transportation, then they may be eligible for the incentive board payment rate.  Incentive rates are not offered when foster parents are merely “hoteling” children/ youth, providing only a bed to sleep in for the evening and requiring DCS staff to primarily care for the child.

If the child was placed in the home at the age of eleven (11), they are not eligible for the incentive program and the board rate progression will autogenerate on the child’s birthday to reflect the rate for a twelve (12) year old prior to implementation of the incentive program. 

Siblings must be in the same home to be eligible for the incentive rate.  If there is a sibling group of three and one child is in a separate home, the child who is placed without their siblings will not be eligible, but the two who remain together will be eligible.  If siblings who are separated, reunite in a foster home, they will become eligible, and the contracts should change to reflect the incentive rate.  The bonus rate would be calculated from the date the incentive rate was initiated for each child. 

The bonus incentive option should not prevent a child from a move towards permanency.  If the bonus becomes a barrier to a move towards permanency, the team should consult their Regional Director who will consult with Central Office to determine next steps.

This helps us identify when families have met the timeframe for the bonus, track spending of the funding, and to assess the impact and success of the incentive program. 

The incentive program is not considered a permanent payment structure change, rather an effort to stabilize children in long term placement, therefore there is not currently a plan to change rates to other categories of placement or payments.  However, leadership continues to assess the needs of all children DCS serves to make appropriate recommendations for funding.

 Currently, the rate must be documented as the Emergency Rate.  We are working with IT to develop specific rate types in TFACTS to select, but they are not available at this time. 

Yes.  Regional Directors can approve the Emergency Rate for children not receiving the incentive rate, as appropriate. 

Foster parents must meet all compliance standards including training requirements at the end of the six (6) month placement timeframe to receive the bonus.