Family Support Services

The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (DCS) is strengthening services delivered to non-custodial families through increased direction and support of the Family Support Services (FSS) program area. Cases are referred to FSS from other DCS program areas, Juvenile court, or a self-referral. Family Support Services are provided to children and their families with the purpose of minimizing risk to children by addressing identified needs within the family, thereby enhancing well-being and permanency.

FSS is not only an immediate intervention to prevent a custodial episode, but it also provides a long-term intervention by helping families reach a level of self-efficacy and stability.

One of the key components of intervention is the relationship that is built between the case manager and family. This trusting relationship creates opportunities for difficult conversations which allows the case manager and family to assess for safety and progress, as well as identify additional needs and supports to meet desired outcomes. The case manager collaborates with the family to help them to recognize unsafe situations and alternatives to improve safety.  Families are also challenged to identify the circumstances and influences that impact the family both positively and adversely.  The case manager works with the family to build on the strengths to create the resiliency practice that will continue to be used beyond DCS involvement.

Intervention with the family will be family-centered and strengths-based, and a Family Permanency Plan (FPP) will be developed or revised to capture the collaborative actions and goals identified to direct and support the family.

The FSS practice model is expected to improve DCS’ preventative efforts by helping case managers better engage families, identify services and resources specific to the needs of each family, and utilize formal and informal assessments for case planning. FSS workers are involved in the family home, child’s school, court, and other sites to best meet the needs. FSS can refer the family to services through community referrals and through Case Service Requests for departmental financial assistance. FSS will continue to work with and support the family until FSS involvement is no longer warranted.