Under the leadership of the Governor and First Lady, the Children's Cabinet created kidcentraltn.com, a one-stop shop for Tennessee families to raise healthy and happy kids. Families using kidcentral tn can read about popular parenting topics, track important child milestones, and access vital resources using the state services directory
In July 2013, TNCSA was awarded the contract for the Department of Children Services’ Foster Parent Advocacy and Mentorship Program (DCS RPAM). That’s exciting, but what is it and who can use this service? The initials alone are overwhelming, huh? However, once you figure out what this program is all about, you may even decide it is something that can benefit you. Keep reading and hopefully I can explain. The DCS RPAM program was designed to offer Foster Parents (formerly known as resource and adoptive parents) a support system all their own. This program has two focuses: Mentorship and Advocacy. The Mentorship program is designed to help guide new foster parents through the rocky waters of the DCS tidal wave, sort of like white water rafting! Despite the thrill of rafting down the river, there are always rocks lurking underneath the water, an experienced guide can manoeuvre the raft around the rocks while allowing the “rafters” the pleasure of being on the water. Mentors basically do the same thing. They explain the pitfalls, heartaches and joys of foster parenting and demonstrate proper ways to communicate with others on behalf of those they “parent.”
The Advocacy program is similar to the Mentorship program except this portion of the program uses highly trained foster parents who ADVOCATE on behalf of other foster parents. These individuals are called Foster Parent Advocates or just “Advocates” for short. Advocates are available to answer questions or assist with concerns that a foster parent may have. Advocates receive specialized training to help them interpret the Department of Children’s Services’ (DCS) policy and procedures (that’s a lot of responsibility) and then to assist other foster parents communicate effectively with their respective DCS family service worker. On those rare occasions when communication fails, the Advocate will also assist foster parents in filing grievances and appeals. Advocates also provide training on the Foster Parent Bill of Rights. If you are a foster parent and need additional information, or if you would like to become a foster parent, give us a call and we'll be happy to take the next step with you. If you'd like to know more of the details, click Page 2 above or Next on the bottom right.
The Department of Children’s Services Foster Parent Mentorship and Advocacy program started in 1997. This was the same year that the Tennessee Foster Parent Bill of Rights was passed into law. The Foster Parent Bill of Rights influences the way in which foster parents are treated in Tennessee. There are 12 Advocates throughout the State of Tennessee, one in each of the grand regions covered by the Department of Children’s Services. Each Advocate is a member, in good standing, of the Tennessee Foster Adoptive Care Association. Their main task is to ADVOCATE on behalf of other foster parents. When requested, Advocates can attend meetings, court hearings and formal review panels. They can assist to interpret the Foster Parents Bill of Rights and help offer guidance and support to foster parents.
The Mentorship Program was developed in 2007 and was designed to support Foster Parents by giving them personal, one-on-one training and assistance during their first six months of services. Mentors provide emotional support and acquaint new foster parents with the services that are available to them in their region. Mentors also help new foster parents understand the foster care system and how to best work in partnership with DCS.
The Advocacy Program also has a Public Relations (PR) Specialist who is key in publicizing what the Advocacy and Mentorship Program can do for Foster Parents. The PR specialist can present the Advocacy and Mentorship Programs at conferences, to other private foster care agencies and other outreach programs. They develop and maintain a website as well as develop promotional and marketing materials. Basically, we want everyone that has an interest in the Tennessee Foster Care System to know about the positive things that the Advocacy and Mentorship program is doing for Foster Families and foster children across the state!
Advocates and Mentors care, they are committed to serving others but ultimately strive to enhance the lives of children in foster care throughout the State of Tennessee. They are available to both DCS foster parents as well as privately funded foster agencies. If you have any questions, we are here to help, just give us a call.