The commissioner, or the commissioner's designee, has the following powers and duties in addition to such other powers and duties as may be specifically provided by law in this title or as otherwise provided by law:
(1) Select and recommend to the appropriate state officials the employment or transfer of all personnel required for the operation of the department, except, however, the transfer of any employees pursuant to this chapter or the initial organization of the new department pursuant to this chapter shall not result in any impairment, interruption or diminution of employee rights, privileges, salary, benefits, leave accumulation or employment; and further, such transfer of employees pursuant to this chapter or initial organization of the new department pursuant to this chapter shall not result in a contract employee supervising a career service employee or conducting a job performance evaluation for a career service employee;
(2) Recommend to the appropriate state officials the salaries and compensation of all officers and employees of the department;
(3) Make and adopt rules, regulations and policies for the government, management and supervision of state children's service agencies or facilities, and children's services; prescribe the powers and duties of the officers and employees thereof; and provide for the care of children served by the department; provided, however, that such rules shall be consistent with and subject to licensing approval authority of any other state agency that has responsibility for licensing or approval of any portion of program services or facilities provided by the department;
(4) (A) Publish, in accordance with the rules, regulations, policies and procedures of the state publication committee, an annual report on the operation of the department and the services and programs under its supervision by January 31 and furnish the report to the governor, members of the general assembly, including the children and family affairs committee of the house of representatives, other persons and relevant entities that may request the report such as the Tennessee council of juvenile and family court judges and the Tennessee commission on children and youth, and others as the governor may consider appropriate;
(B) Such annual report shall contain information regarding foster care services, including definitions, racial composition, and statutory or regulatory authority where appropriate as to the following:
(i) Placement Information. Total number of children in foster care by region and segmented by:
(a) Level of placement (I-IV);
(b) Placement type (department of children's services foster home, continuum contracts, pre-adoptive or adoptive, diagnostic shelter, emergency shelter, medical or surgical hospital, miscellaneous, specialized residential school, trial home visit);
(c) Average length of custody; and
(d) Number of department of children's services foster care placements currently available;
(ii) Social Services Caseload Information. Total social services case managers by region and segmented by:
(a) Case manager slots;
(b) Actual filled slots;
(c) Average salary;
(d) Average social services caseload; and
(e) Range of social services caseload;
(iii) Legal Support by Region. Total number of attorneys and paralegal staff:
(a) Number of attorney slots;
(b) Number of attorney filled slots;
(c) Number of paralegal slots; and
(d) Number of paralegal filled slots;
(5) Direct the placement of children in appropriate state programs or facilities, or contract programs or facilities, in conformity with constitutional, statutory or regulatory requirements;
(6) Assume general responsibility for the proper and efficient operation of the department, its services and programs. The commissioner may establish such divisions and units within the department as necessary for its efficient operation;
(7) Promulgate necessary rules and regulations to govern administrative searches and inspections of employees of the department, juveniles in the custody of the department and visitors to facilities of the department. Such rules shall provide guidelines and standards for the manner in which the searches authorized by this subdivision (7) shall be conducted;
(8) Promulgate rules and regulations concerning drug testing that are not inconsistent with the provisions of § 41-1-121;
(9) (A) Conduct investigations as deemed necessary to the performance of the commissioner's duties, and to that end, the commissioner shall have the same power as a judge of the court of general sessions to administer oaths and to enforce the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of books and papers;
(B) The commissioner shall keep a record of such investigations, stating the time, place, nature or subject, witnesses summoned and examined, and the commissioner's conclusions;
(C) In matters involving the conduct of an office, a stenographic report of the evidence may be taken and a copy thereof with all documents introduced kept on file at the office of the department;
(D) The fees of witnesses for attendance and travel shall be the same as in the circuit court, but no officer or employee of the institution under investigation shall be entitled thereto;
(E) Any judge of the circuit or chancery court, either in term time or in vacation, upon application of the commissioner, may compel the attendance of witnesses, the production of books or papers and the giving of testimony before the commissioner, by a judgment for contempt or otherwise, in the same manner as in the cases before a circuit or chancery court;
(10) (A) The commissioner shall have the authority to conduct or cause to be conducted any administrative hearings relating to any factual determinations that the department is authorized or required to make pursuant to the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act, compiled in title 4, chapter 5, or pursuant to any other hearing procedures required by law or that may be necessary to provide due process procedures for individuals affected by the programs administered by the department;
(B) The commissioner, or any officer or employee of the department upon written authorization from the commissioner, has the power to administer oath and affirmations, take depositions, issue subpoenas and require the production of documents and any books and records that may be necessary in the conduct of such hearings;
(11) Perform all duties and exercise all authority set forth in part 3 of this chapter, regarding community services agencies;
(12) (A) Establish a children's services advisory council having fifteen (15) members appointed by the commissioner to act in an advisory capacity on any matter within the jurisdiction of the department. Appointees to the council shall include, but not be limited to, representatives of local law enforcement, mental health professionals, local education agencies, juvenile court officials, social workers, health care providers, consumers of services such as parents, foster parents or family members of children who are or have been recipients of services from the department, child advocates, persons having specialized knowledge or experience and public and private agencies that provide services to children. The members of the council shall be appointed with a conscious intention of reflecting a diverse mixture with respect to race and gender. Each community services agency region shall be represented by at least one (1) individual on the council;
(B) The term of a member of the children's services advisory council shall be three (3) years with the terms staggered so as to replace no more than one third (1/3) of the members each year. Members of the council may be reappointed after their terms expire. Members of the council shall continue in office until the expiration of the terms for which they were respectively appointed and until such time as their successors are appointed. Vacancies occurring on the council by reasons of death or resignation shall be filled in the same manner as a regular appointment for the remainder of the unexpired term;
(C) Members shall be reimbursed for their actual expenses for attending meetings of the council. All reimbursement for travel expenses shall be in accordance with the provisions of the comprehensive travel regulations as promulgated by the department of finance and administration and approved by the attorney general and reporter;
(D) The duties of the council shall be to advise the commissioner regarding issues pertaining to the purpose of the department and its work when requested by the commissioner. Annually, the council shall elect one (1) of its members to serve as chair of the council and one (1) member to serve as secretary. Minutes of each meeting shall be kept and sent to the commissioner. Any officer may be elected to consecutive terms;
(13) Establish, from time to time, committees composed of representatives from the public or private sectors, or both, for such purposes and durations as may be deemed appropriate or required by the commissioner. Members of such committees shall be reimbursed for their actual expenses for attending meetings of their respective committees. All reimbursement for travel expenses shall be in accordance with the provisions of the comprehensive travel regulations as promulgated by the department of finance and administration and approved by the attorney general and reporter;
(14) (A) Establish and administer, jointly with the state treasurer, a scholarship program for the sole purpose of providing financial assistance to foster children wishing to pursue opportunities in higher education;
(B) The scholarship program established and administered pursuant to subdivision (14)(A) shall be funded from state appropriations and from such individual and corporate grants, donations and contributions as the commissioner shall solicit and receive specifically for such purpose;
(15) In consultation with the child sexual abuse task force established by § 37-1-603(b)(1), the child advocacy centers, the Tennessee council of juvenile and family court judges, the Tennessee commission on children and youth, the Tennessee supreme court administrative office of the court, the district attorneys general conference and the juvenile and criminal court clerks, develop a plan and recommendations regarding requirements for extensive, detailed information regarding all reports of child maltreatment and the criminal, civil or administrative disposition of all allegations, by type, of child maltreatment and, by type, of disposition, including data regarding the victims and the perpetrators, to be collected by the department and submit the plan and recommendations to the judiciary committees of the senate and house of representatives, and the children and family affairs committee of the house of representatives. Any child-specific information shall be confidential, except as otherwise provided by statute; and
(16) Promote collaboration and accountability among local, public, and private programs to improve the lives of children and families, including continuing accreditation with the Council on Accreditation for Children and Family Services, Inc. or its equivalent, to develop strategies consistent with best practice standards for delivery of services. If the department fails to maintain accreditation, a report shall be provided to the general assembly outlining the reasons the department is no longer accredited.
Acts 1996, ch. 1079, § 6; 1999, ch. 508, § 5; 1999, ch. 521, §§ 1-3; 2001, ch. 401, § 2; 2006, ch. 890, § 4; 2010, ch. 1044, § 1; 2011, ch. 410, § 3(r).
Compiler's Notes. Acts 1999, ch. 508, § 3 provided that the department of children's services shall report to the house committee on children and family affairs and the select committee on children and youth no later than January 15th of each year for the next three years, beginning January 15, 2000, regarding its implementation of the above recommendations.
Acts 1999, ch. 508, § 12 provided that the department of children's services shall report at least once every sixty (60) days, or as often as requested, to the Special Joint Task Force to study foster care; the general welfare, health and human resources committee of the senate; the health and human resources committee of the house of representatives; the children and family affairs committee of the house of representatives; and the select joint committee on children and youth. Such periodic reports shall describe the current implementation status of the various provisions of this act.
Acts 2001, ch. 401, § 4, provided that the amendment to this section by the act, which amended subdivision (4)(A), shall apply to any investigation or any civil cause of action pending or filed on or after June 19, 2001.
Acts 2006, ch. 890, § 1 provided that the provisions of the act, which added subdivision (15), may be collectively known as the “Child Protection Act of 2006.”
For the Preamble to the act concerning the Tennessee department of children's services accreditation from the Council on Accreditation for Children and Family Services, Inc., please refer to Acts 2010, ch. 1044.
For the Preamble to the act concerning the prohibition against establishment of a special committee if there is a standing committee on the same subject, please refer to Acts 2011, ch. 410.