State Expects Chattanooga Migrant Children Shelter’s License to Be Suspended into Fall

A closed shelter in Chattanooga again was the focus Thursday for much of the Tennessee Legislature’s Study Committee on Refugee Issues meeting.

Tennessee Department of Children’s Services Commissioner Jennifer Nichols said the home, run by the Georgia-based Baptiste Group, remains under suspension as the Baptiste Group appeals its license suspension in chancery court.

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Tennessee Lawmakers Drafting Legislation to Prevent Traffickers, Cartels from Taking Migrant Children Under Guise of Sponsorship

Tennessee legislators will draft legislation to increase transparency and establish protective measures for the sponsorship of unaccompanied migrant children. The federal government says that sponsors are “almost always a parent or close relative” – but that’s not always the case. Lawmakers’ urgency to increase transparency and establish protective measures for sponsorship heightened after it was revealed that Governor Bill Lee’s administration has continued licensing for a Chattanooga shelter without apparent provisions in place to protect the housed migrant children from traffickers and cartels. 

The Chattanooga shelter is run by the Baptiste Group, a Georgia-based national group that provides emergency shelter services for unaccompanied migrant children – usually for up to 30 days, excepting complications. Last May, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration for Children and Families contracted with the Baptiste Group for a conditional Residential Child Care Agency License in Chattanooga. The three-year contract, set to expire last August, anticipated nearly $7.5 million in costs to house up to 100 children.

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Senate Passes Bill Exempting Individuals from Vaccinations as Requirement for Adoption or Foster Care

The Senate determined Thursday that those wishing to become adoptive or foster parents should be granted increased vaccine exemptions. This bill would still require that individuals and that individual’s household undergo vaccinations in order to either adopt or foster children 18 months of age or younger, or children with “significant documented medical needs.”

During the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the bill, one mother named Kim Carter testified that she was denied foster care opportunities because her children weren’t fully vaccinated at the time. She added that her story wasn’t unique.

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Tennessee DCS Revokes Foster Parent ‘Cultural Awareness’ Curriculum for Violating Executive Order on Diversity Trainings

The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (DCS) revoked a cultural awareness training on Tuesday for violating President Trump’s Executive Order. DCS is reviewing the program, Cultural Awareness for Foster Parents, currently.

DCS sent the memo to agency provider trainers on the same day the curriculum was pulled.

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