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Business, Free Enterprise and Constitutional Issues; Pro-Life and Pro Second Amendment. Susan Lynn is a member of the Tennessee General Assembly. She serves as Chairman of the Consumer and Human Resources subcommittee and on the Finance Ways and Means Committee. She holds a BS in economics and a minor in history.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


Judge’s signature marks more than 16 years of sweeping foster care reform

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Commissioner Bonnie Hommrich today announced that after more than 16 years of system-wide reform and a massive turnaround, Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (DCS) is now free of federal court oversight.

U.S. District Court Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw has approved the historic agreement between the state and Children’s Rights, the New York-based advocacy group that in 2000 filed litigation known as the Brian A. lawsuit that charged that Tennessee youth in foster care suffered in an overburdened system, describing children in crowded congregate care shelters and social workers with overwhelming caseloads.

Tennessee now has a thoroughly reformed foster care system. The reform comes after years of collaboration with Children’s Rights and the Technical Assistance Committee, a panel of nationally recognized child welfare experts that served as the federal court monitor for the Brian A. consent decree.

“This is monumental for Tennessee’s children and the state. After years of intervention, the federal government is saying that Tennessee is providing service to children in a way that models what it should look like for the rest of the country,” Haslam said.

“This stage in our journey represents the hard work, commitment and innovation it has taken to get here. So on behalf of our children, families, staff and partners, I can say that we’re just thrilled and thankful,” Hommrich said. “But the work goes on. We will always have tough problems before us. At DCS, we promise to bring our full energy and attention to whatever lies ahead, and we will use the same focus and dedication that has brought us to this point today.”

The reform follows intense work with a wide range of institutions, including Tennessee’s private provider network, the state’s leading universities, the University of Chicago’s Chapin Hall Center for Children, the state’s juvenile courts and the Tennessee General Assembly.

DCS achieved its court-required performance during 2015, and the Brian A. agreement stipulated that Tennessee maintain that performance throughout 2016.
Highlights of the department’s reform include:
  • Among the nearly 140 foster-care benchmarks DCS achieved are measures of time to reunification, time to adoption, re-entry into the foster-care system, length of time in placement, parent-and-child visits and case-manager caseloads.
  • DCS emphasizes family-style placement for youth in foster care, in place of institutional settings such as orphanages.
  • DCS has become a national leader in timeliness to adoption and in implementing a child-and-family teaming model that encourages birth parents, case managers, care providers and foster families to work together on behalf of a child.
  • DCS has developed a process that has put the department on a path to a more professional workforce, with bachelor’s and master’s degree programs for case managers and supervisors.
  • DCS has built a robust, modern case-management computer system, TFACTS, that handles everything from case notes, management tools to billing days. It replaced a patchwork of computer systems that did not always work together reliably.
  • Although not a Brian A. requirement, DCS has achieved re-accreditation by the Council on Accreditation. Tennessee is one of the few states in the nation accomplish this.
  • Tennessee is the first state in the U.S. to offer independent living services to 100 percent of the youth who age out of foster care. This program is an outgrowth of pioneering work with private provider Youth Villages.

Today there are approximately 7,300 children in Tennessee foster care. The department is also responsible for the approximately 1,100 youth who comprise the state’s juvenile-justice population. These youth were not part of the Brian A. suit.
For more information on the Brian A. lawsuit, please contact Rob Johnson at Rob.Johnson@tn.gov.


Monday, July 24, 2017

OREA Publication on the IMPROVE Act

The state Comptroller has created a publication on the IMPROVE Act through the Office of Research and Education Accountability.

Link: http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/Repository/RE/OREA%20IMPROVE%20Act_July%202017.pdf 

Historically Low Unemployment in Tennessee

The unemployment rate in Wilson County is at an historic low; 2.2% and for the state it is 3.6%. As a member of the Workforce Development Board I am very proud to see these historic numbers. This means that Tennessee will be growing - both in population and capital investment in order to keep up with demand.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Simple Thoughts...

This may seem like a weird post but I sort of feel divinely inspired to write these words so here goes. 
Until just recently, I never took much time to think about the powerful emotion of shame. Most probably think of shame as a very painful emotion, and if used as a cruelly by someone in order to hurt us shame is very painful. But when shame is experienced in the natural course of events either through our own conscience or due to instructive words from someone who genuinely cares for us or due to just ordinary conversation, it is a very constructive emotion if we allow ourselves to experience it, to learn and to grow because of it. 
Shame helps us to understand when we have done something wrong or to realize that we want to improve ourselves. It helps us to correct our own behavior and actions, to strive harder, and to seek beneficial changes. 
As Christians, shame should lead us to pray to our heavenly Father for forgiveness, to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance and to show us how to make changes in ourselves so that we can function better in our lives and relationships. 
Some people are very shame-adverse. Unfortunately, being shame-adverse keeps children and adults from growing and from maturing to healthy relationships. 
Psychologists say that people who have an aversion to feeling shame will do several frustrating things to avoid the pain of ever feeling this emotion. They can become very easily offended by what we consider to be normal conversation. They will blame-shift – that is they will immediately point out something we do wrong as if this makes any difference to the subject at hand. They will fog – which is to claim that they don’t remember the event or claim that it didn’t happen as we know it did. They will also keep mental lists which they quickly pull out in order to attempt to hurt us back by reciting our warts and faults which can be confusing, hurtful or irritating because all along we didn't realize the conversation caused them to feel shame and thus was painful to them. 
The problem is, young or old, we all need to feel shame from time to time and to examine it. It is a tool to help us seek ways to make constructive changes in ourselves in order to achieve personal growth, and to develop integrity, healthy relationships and a clear conscience. Shame, when not used as a cruelty, is a very constructive emotion which helps us grow and mature. By diving in and fully allowing ourselves to feel shame we can know to pray and seek guidance. 
I know that this is sort of weird post but due to some of my reading lately I felt strangely moved to write about this emotion – maybe I was divinely inspired to write these words for someone and they will help them and I will never know…I hope so. Or maybe I need to do some praying for me