Governor deflects questions about issues with DCS, points to last year’s gains instead

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (DCS) faces mounting issues, including a story in Nashville about how the police have been called to one location hundreds of times this year over several issues, including missing children.

“You know what? These are very difficult situations,” Gov. Bill Lee (R-Tennessee) said. “Many of these children have serious behavioral issues.”

But when News 2 asked Lee what his plans were to mitigate the issues, he instead pointed to growth made in the previous year.

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“We have actually done quite a bit in the last year to make sure what happens at DCS is continuously improving,” he said.

To Lee’s credit, after sinking a huge increase of his budget in DCS last year, case manager turnover rate and the number of cases per worker is down.

But other issues still persist, like the fact that just in the last three weeks, police have been called to just one Nashville DCS location 36 times. Twelve of those calls were related to missing people.


“Children in transitional homes are in very difficult circumstances. They’re coming into custody, they’ve experienced complex trauma,” DCS Commissioner Margie Quin said. “It’s a very difficult situation, but they are under the direct supervision of DCS staff and behavioral specialists, but you have to understand these are kids with high acuity needs. It’s a very challenging situation.”

Quin downplayed concerns when News 2 asked her about the issues last week.

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“Today, we’re here to talk about the great things our DCS staff’s doing,” she said.

Lee said if his administration finds a problem, it’ll be taken care of.

“Wherever we find a problem, we will address it,” he said. “Wherever we find a weakness, wherever we find a shortcoming, we will pursue that.”

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