Quality Improvement

Mixed Racial children group.

The Office of Continuous Quality Improvement focuses on assessing child welfare practices, outcomes and compliance by using data and analysis to guide and change policies and practices –improving overall practices for casework staff and outcomes for families.

To do this DCS uses internal and external reviews and audits and works with entities that accredit public child welfare agencies to check its own work.

The following divisions work under the umbrella of Continuous Quality Improvement to maintain best practices and identify areas for improvement:

The Division of Performance & Quality Improvement tracks, coordinates, and integrates all DCS quality assurance activities and conducts case record reviews to identify issues affecting the care of children in state custody. The Division accomplishes its work using a variety of tools and processes.

Accreditation: The Division is responsible for guiding the Department through the maintenance and re-accreditation process with the Council on Accreditation (COA).  Accreditation signifies that the Department meets national best practice standards.  DCS Central Office, Wilder Youth Development Center, and all 12 service regions are in compliance with COA standards.   

Provider Quality and Resource Home Quality: These teams partner with other DCS divisions to provide a multi-disciplinary approach to the oversight of both congregate care and foster home providers. This work may include providing training, technical assistance, and placing providers on corrective action plans. The teams review reports of abuse and neglect assigned to the DCS Special Investigations Unit. In addition, the teams consider issues, inquiries, and trends generated by incident reporting, Provider Monitoring and Evaluation, Licensing, and regional reports.

Ongoing Performance Reviews: Through a variety of regular and targeted reviews, the Division ensures key outcomes and quality performance standards are met. One such review is the Case Process Review, a quarterly, state-wide review of a five percent sample of cases to provide regional staff with feedback about performance quality. The Division also uses performance data to identify areas requiring special reviews such as parent-child visitation and diligent search efforts to identify potential child placement and family support.

Child and Family Services Reviews: Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSR) is a process including an assessment and case reviews for the Children’s Bureau to monitor state child welfare programs and compliance with federal regulations. The CFSR enables the Children’s Bureau to ensure conformity with federal child welfare requirements, determine what is happening to children and families as they are engaged in child welfare services, and assist states in enhancing their capacity to help children and families achieve positive outcomes.

Risk Management oversees Internal Affairs, Internal Audit and the DCS risk management program.

Internal Affairs is charged with conducting fair, impartial, prompt and professional investigations of a confidential, administrative nature dealing with misconduct by Department employees. In addition to conducting internal investigations, the Division serves as the primary liaison with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.

Internal Audit ensures compliance with departmental policies and procedures, accounting standards and state and federal laws and regulations. The Internal Audit Division conducts limited reviews, evaluates the Department’s Enterprise Risk Management activities to ensure risks are managed appropriately and internal controls are operating effectively, conducts special investigations and provides advisory services. The Division also performs audits of the Department of Children’s Services’ three Youth Development Centers.

The Division also reports allegations of fraud, waste and abuse to the Office of the Comptroller of the Treasury.

The Division of Provider Monitoring & Evaluation provides annual contract monitoring services for performance-based contractors, sub-recipient contractors and family preservation contracts. These reviews are both scheduled and unannounced.

Performance-based contract monitoring is conducted to ensure compliance with provider contract and DCS policy requirements. Monitoring results are data-based and conducted in partnership with Vanderbilt University Center of Excellence (COE). Performance-based contracts allow the Department to offer incentives to agencies who meet or exceed contractual obligations to improve outcomes for families. Providers who do not meet the agreed upon standards may receive penalties.

In addition, this Division monitors family preservation and prevention service contracts. These services are for families whose children are at risk of coming into custody. The programs include family support and domestic violence services.

Learn more about Provider Monitoring & Evaluation.

The Policy and Forms Division works with all DCS programs and divisions to develop and enhance policies and procedures, manuals and related forms which provide guidance to employees. Policies and procedures increase accountability and transparency and are fundamental in the continuous quality improvement process. All policy revisions and new policies are vetted by the Policy Review Committee, the public and executive and legal teams.

Please visit the Policies and Procedures page or the Forms and Documents page on the DCS website.

Persons who have been identified as having abused or neglected a child by the Department of Children’s Services have a right to disagree.

The Division of Due Process Procedures offers the first level of appeal, also known as formal file review, for individuals who have been substantiated for abuse or neglect. This formal file review and objective analysis is important because the Department is required, under certain circumstances, to release the identity of a substantiated perpetrator of abuse to any agency or organization providing direct care or supervision of children

Learn more about appeals, due process, and formal file review.

If you are seeking information about an individual’s Child Protective Services history and would like to request search results, please read the records history check page.

The Division of Child Welfare Licensing strives to protect the interests, health and safety of Tennessee's children and families by providing information, advice and support; and by establishing and applying effective standards in the regulation of Tennessee’s child welfare agencies. The Division's licensing consultants conduct unannounced inspections and investigate reports of abuse and deficiency in operation of licensed facilities. Learn more in the licensing section.