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APSU, DCS join forces to improve the lives of children in state care

April 16, 2001

In CBS's award-winning drama, "Judging Amy," the supporting character, played by Tyne Daly as Amy's mother, is a veteran social worker who came out of retirement with fierce determination to help as many children as possible.

Undaunted by the monumental task, further complicated by bureaucratic barriers and rapidly rising numbers of "throw-away" children--she works tirelessly to improve the lives of the children who have become "part of the system."

This story line, which forces viewers to see children rather than statistics, is an indictment of society's efforts in this arena. Unfortunately, the challenges of children's services in "Judging Amy" are not gross exaggeration.

Tennessee's Department of Children Services (DCS), like that in most states, is under pressure to make drastic improvements in the lives of children in its custody.

Austin Peay State University will play a major role in this statewide effort, thanks to a new $150,000 grant. Project director of the grant, titled Permanency Planning, is Glenn Carter, chair of the APSU social work department.

This collaboration became possible through an initiative from the Child and Family Policy Center at Vanderbilt University, where Carter's wife, Sharon, is a research associate, working under the direction of Debbie Miller, first lady of Nashville.

According to Carter, the grant money will be used to train 1,720 Community Service Agency (CSA) and DCS employees. Carter has been working on the project with Ken Steverson,, director of regional services for DCS, who calls this "a DCS effort to increase the professionalism of DCS."

Carter selected 20 faculty members from accredited social work programs statewide as the primary faculty.

These select faculty, who will be trained by experts from Hunter College of Social Work in New York during an intensive workshop in Nashville, will teach 69 classes of DCS and CSA employees across the state. Each class will take a full 14 hours.

Carter said, "By July 1, Tennessee will have a cadre of DCS and CSA employees who will know how to do a better job in managing children in their care."

For more information, telephone Carter at 7728.