There are more than 7,000 children in Tennessee’s foster care system. The state receives support from over 4,000 foster families, but more foster/adoptive parents are needed, along with volunteers who can provide crucial support to foster families.
While there is a need for foster care for children of all ages, the greatest need is for foster/adoptive parents for older children and siblings. Tennessee places a strong emphasis on keeping children in a family-like setting, and the Department of Children’s Services (DCS) strives to keep siblings together. To see a photo gallery of children who are available for adoption, click here.
To support the needs of all Tennessee children in foster care—and the people throughout the state who provide nurturing homes—the state launched the TNFosters campaign in 2016. TNFosters’ goal is to encourage the faith-based community, creative leaders, nonprofits and the private sector to find even more ways to support children in the state’s foster care system.
Not everyone can become a foster parent, but there are a variety of ways for everyone to help.
Support for Foster Parents
If you become a foster parent, you will receive ongoing support. That support will include, but is not limited to, assistance from a foster parent support worker, foster parent support associations in your area, a mentoring program for new foster parents and respite care.
Eighty-percent of the children adopted from foster care in Tennessee are adopted by their foster parents. The Adoption Support and Preservation Program offers free, post-adoption services to families who have adopted, or are adopting through, the DCS.
The services are individualized to meet your needs and are offered in support groups or in your home. Most important, parents can access the services anytime, even several years after adoption finalization.
For more information, click here.
How You and Your Community Can Help
If you are unable to become a foster parent, there are other ways you can support children and families in foster care in Tennessee. Churches, civic groups and volunteers are important parts of the network of community partnerships that help protect children, develop youth, strengthen families and build safe communities.
Here are some ways you and/or your organization can support foster families:
· Assist a family with utilities, home repairs, car repairs, etc.
· Sponsor special events such as holiday parties
· Offer support to Tennessee foster parent associations
· Provide items needed to support a kinship or foster placement—beds, cribs, clothing, etc.
· Become a volunteer or facilitator at a visitation site
· Become a mentor, coach or tutor through a structured, DCS-approved, established entity, organization or congregation
· Support The Forgotten Initiative, which helps meet practical needs in foster care ministries
· Support young people who age out of foster care by providing volunteer assistance, guidance and mentorship through the network of providers who partner with the DCS
How to Get Started
Visit the state’s TNFosters site for information on various ways you, your faith community or civic group can get involved. The site includes ideas and examples of support in action. You also will find contact information if you have any other questions.
Watch this video to learn more about the foster to adoption experience.