The Davidson Region was one of the “pilot” or “developing” sites for the In Home Tennessee initiative, beginning with their first Community Stakeholder meeting in September 2010. Approximately 125 community partners attended, including various DCS workers and Central Office leadership. The first part of the meeting included an overall introduction by the Atlantic Coast Child Welfare Implementation Center (ACCWIC) to the enhancement, and after lunch, the group broke into four workgroups to discuss services and practices available to families and youth in Davidson County. Several, smaller community stakeholder groups met over the next several weeks after this first meeting in order to conduct an assessment of the local child welfare practices and services.
A second Community Stakeholder meeting was held February 2011 where DCS and community partners gathered for a presentation by ACCWIC as well as the four Workgroup Leads. Synthesized information from the assessment was presented and discussed at this meeting.
Overseeing the initiative implementation in Davidson region is the “Regional Implementation Team,” which continues to meets monthly.
Davidson, with invitation to community partners, has completed the In Home Tennessee trainings to include the following trainings: “Introduction to In Home Tennessee,” “Practical Engagement,” “Integrating Assessment,” “The Stages of Planning,” and “Implementing the Change Process.” Additionally, Davidson County DCS leadership is in the process of completing training on Coaching, and the focus is currently on initiating “Practice Enhancement Sessions” to apply practical, live-scenario case application to the training already completed.
Davidson County is targeting Parenting Education and Father Involvement as regional priorities. Data supports the need for this concentration.
Fourteen agencies are involved in the “Parents Forward” parenting education workgroup in Davidson County. One partner, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) is working with the Martha O'Bryan Center, Exchange Club Family Center, and the local DCS to provide parenting classes in metro schools. As a result of the workgroup, parenting classes are in four Davidson County schools currently. For a period of time, a Spanish version of the classes were optional in one location, and the Martha O'Bryan Center works consistently in two schools. Catholic Charities joined in this partnership and offered a parenting class in Arabic (a need identified by one school). The group will also contribute to the “Parent Pow-Wow” at Lakeview Elementary Design Center again this year.
Two of the agencies in this partnership, Exchange Club Family Center and Youth Villages, recently took over leadership and are mapping out the regional parenting needs based on primary child removal reasons and Child Protective Services (CPS) referral data, provided by the Department. This information will be used to ensure those areas deemed highest at-risk can be targeted for parenting classes as a first priority. “Parents Forward” recently started a Facebook page for parents and child welfare workers to stay in touch. Check it out at www.facebook.com/MTNParentsForward.
If you are interested in becoming an active part of this collaborative approach in parenting education, please contact the workgroup co-charis, Jenn Drake-Croft, Director of Parent Education at The Exchange Club Family Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or Nikki Swan, Regional Manager at Youth Villages at email@example.com.
Selected CPS teams began collecting Davidson County father involvement data at the child referral/allegation stage beginning in May 2012. This data was analyzed at the workgroup meeting in July 2012.
Davidson DCS is highlighting more attention at the initial referral/allegation stage of a case to attempt to locate absent father information as quickly and often as possible. The Department continues to strengthen the partnership with the Metro Health Department’s New Life Fatherhood Program and have recently agreed to share selected data for mutual benefit. Additionally, the New Life Fatherhood program developed a panel of birth fathers to help educate staff and resource parents via workshops, staff meetings, and Parents as Tender Healers (PATH) training on the importance of including fathers in the permanency process.
Looking around the Davidson DCS offices, one can easily see some of the father-friendly changes made by the Father Involvement workgroup. A baby changing table was installed in the men’s restroom, and the walls are adorned with posters advocating the importance of a father’s input and presence in a child’s life. These changes, along with the aforementioned efforts at the initiation of cases, DCS data already shows an increase in father participation in child/family meetings.
Beginning in January 2013, the father involvement workgroup is being restructured, with an increased emphasis on community partners and male membership. As a beginning step in this direction, a Co-Chair from the Department of Health has been named. The workgroup currently meets the third Friday each month, and has a member recruitment activity planned for February.
If you are interested in more information or in participating in this effort toward positive change, please contact the Workgroup Chair, DCS Team Coordinator, Tyran Copeland, at Tyran.Copeland@tn.gov.
Interested in becoming a part of the positive change currently underway in the Davidson region? Contact the Regional Project Lead, Tiwana Toney at Tiwana.Toney@tn.gov.