Judge told DCS doing better in caring for foster children

The experts who watch over Tennessee’s foster care system told a judge Friday that the state is doing better at keeping foster children safe and supporting the families who take them in, according to The Tennessean.

The Department of Children’s Services will remain under strict court orders to make additional reforms, but the agency got credit for improving on 14 measurements related to child well-being.

DCS has now met 82 of 136 goals outlined in an agreement that a federal court created in 2000 in response to a lawsuit against Tennessee by New York-based watchdog group Children’s Rights alleging widespread mistreatment of vulnerable kids. Continued progress could end federal oversight sometime in 2016, officials said.

A year ago, DCS went to court to report more problems than progress. And in June, U.S. District Court Judge Todd J. Campbell chastised top officials for a lack of urgency in fixing the DCS computer system that keeps track of children.

He was more optimistic this time.

“So you’re no longer going in reverse?” Campbell asked.

“We’re very much going in the positive direction,” said Ira Lustbader, attorney for Children’s Rights. “To be sure, challenges remain.”