Lee administration strengthened support for foster and adoptive families through the Forever Homes Act
Nashville – Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee proclaimed the month of May ‘Foster Care Month’ in Tennessee and recognized foster families for providing loving, permanent homes to children in need. Lee also marked this year’s successful passage of bipartisan legislation and an historic $600 million in funding to accelerate child placement and support foster and adoptive families.
“This ‘Foster Care Month’, we recognize the 5,000 Tennessee families who open their hearts and hands to children in need,” said Lee. “We have an obligation to ensure that every child has a loving, permanent home, and I thank Commissioner Quin and the General Assembly for partnering to deliver important support to children and families.”
Forever Homes Act
This year, the Lee administration strengthened support for foster and adoptive families through the Forever Homes Act, bipartisan legislation that will accelerate child placement by:
- Allowing for a judicial waiver to speed adoption finalization from six to three months if a court sees fit
- Providing foster parents a respite period of up to six months without losing their standing as a foster home
- Extending care services for expectant mothers on TennCare
FY23-24 budget priorities
The Lee administration partnered with the General Assembly to dedicate nearly $600 million to directly support child placement efforts and wraparound services for families:
- $190.3 million for the Tennessee Strong Families initiative, including:
- $10.25 million for the Tennessee Fosters Hope program
- $22 million to increase supports for foster and adoptive families caring for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities
- $15 million to support specialized placements for children in foster care with special and/or complex needs
- $5 million for provider network development for children currently in foster care or DCS custody that will need future specialized or residential care
- $168.4 million for the Department of Children’s Services (DCS), including:
- $4.9 million for foster care, adoption assistance and subsidized permanent guardianship programs
- $1.2 million to improve the foster and adoption process, including additional legal staff
- $1.9 million for an increase in the number of children in the Adoption Assistance program
- $13.9 million to increase private provider placements for children awaiting long-term placement
- $8 million for rate increases for private providers
- $215.8 million for the Child Care Benefits program to provide assistance for child care services in programs such as foster care, Families First, child protective services and more
Ways to serve children and families
Lee also invited Tennesseans to give back by supporting foster children and families in their local communities. Through Tennessee Fosters Hope, a public-private initiative created in partnership with Lee, DCS and the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives in 2021, Tennessee families, churches and businesses can donate items, volunteer time and learn more about opportunities to foster or adopt children in need.
This month, DCS will engage Tennesseans and businesses to give back to foster families, including connecting foster children to free camp opportunities throughout the summer. Learn more about the summer camp initiative and additional volunteer opportunities in May here.
During May, Tennessee Serves, an initiative of first lady Maria Lee, will connect Tennesseans to volunteer opportunities to serve children and families across Tennessee.
Image by Freepik.