Press Releases

TN Launches Initiative to Connect Families with Newborns to Appropriate Services

Press release from the Tennessee Dept. of Health; September 30, 2013:

NASHVILLE – On average, more than 79,000 new Tennesseans are born in the Volunteer State every year. Now, First Lady Crissy Haslam and the Tennessee Department of Health will begin greeting each new arrival with a “Welcome Baby” package as part of an innovative new outreach effort. Welcome Baby is designed to help give Tennessee’s newest residents the best start in life by connecting children and families with appropriate services in their community, providing referrals to address family needs and screening babies and their families for potential risks.

“The arrival of a new baby is a joyous time, but it can also be an overwhelming experience for any parent,” said Haslam. “We want to provide Tennessee families with information and resources to help them do all they can to ensure these precious babies grow up to be healthy, strong and productive.”

Starting with babies born in October of this year, all new Tennessee parents will receive a Welcome Baby packet within a few weeks of the baby’s birth. The packet will contain a letter of congratulations from First Lady Haslam, information on the new kidcentral tn website, sign-up material for their local Imagination Library chapter and more. The launch of the Welcome Baby initiative coincides with Tennessee’s celebration of Child Health Week October 7-13, 2013.

In addition to receiving a Welcome Baby packet, some families will receive a follow-up phone call from a nurse and may be scheduled for a voluntary home visit by a local community outreach team member, with additional contacts made with the family during the first year of the child’s life to connect the family with resources. This outreach effort will begin in counties across the state with the highest rates of infant mortality, with the goal of implementing direct outreach in 32 counties by the end of 2013.

“Our Welcome Baby initiative is the next step in our efforts to reduce infant mortality rates and improve early childhood success in Tennessee by helping equip families with the knowledge and skills needed to raise happy and healthy children,” said TDH Family Health and Wellness Director Michael Warren, MD, MPH.

Welcome Baby is designed to screen families and children for risks at the time of a child’s birth; provide timely referrals to address family needs; connect children and families with appropriate services and improve utilization of community resources. Topics covered during outreach contact will include medical care, parent support, nutrition, safety, child development and smoking.

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. For more information about TDH services and programs, visit

Kidcentral tn is a one-stop shop for Tennessee families to connect with important information and resources provided by state government departments. The website features a comprehensive directory of state services for children and families. Learn more at

Press Releases

Dept. of Children’s Services to Continue Three Branches Institute

Press release from the Tennessee Dept. of Children’s Services; Sept. 24, 2013:

NASHVILLE – During the coming year, the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services will continue the Three Branches Institute, an initiative bringing together members of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches to work with the department on strengthening the state’s child protection and juvenile justice systems.

“For Tennessee to have a strong and effective system of children’s services, the three branches of government must have a clear vision on the mission of the services, and confidence that the services are generating desired outcomes,” said DCS Commissioner Jim Henry.

The Three Branches model grew from collaboration among the National Governors Association, National Conference of State Legislatures, National Center for State Courts, and the National Council of Family and Juvenile Court Judges. DCS is working on this initiative with Casey Family Programs and the Georgetown Center for Juvenile Justice Reform.

In Tennessee, the Institute has set a highly focused agenda, including: developing a clear picture of how well Tennessee’s child protection system works; a wide understanding of the complexities of child protection work; using standardized assessments by the courts and DCS to guide their work and to allow for uniform data collection; implementation of evidence-based practice alternatives to incarceration in juvenile justice; and allocation of juvenile justice resources to support community-driven solutions.

The Institute is expected to meet quarterly through August 2014. It began work in August 2012.

Members of the Tennessee Three Branches Institute are:

Legislative Branch
Representative Joe Armstrong
House District 15

Senator Mike Bell
House District 9

Representative Harry Brooks
House District 19

Representative Kevin Brooks
Senate District 24

Senator Charlotte Burks
Senate District 15

Representative John J. DeBerry, Jr.
House District 90

Senator Dolores Gresham
Senate District 26

Senator Jack Johnson
Senate District 23

Judicial Branch
Judge Donna Scott Davenport
Rutherford County Juvenile Court

Judge Nolan Goolsby
Putnam County General Sessions Court

Judge Tim Irwin
Knox County Juvenile Court

Judge Robert Lincoln
Washington County General Sessions Court

Judge William Peeler
Tipton County Juvenile Court

Judge Curtis Person
Juvenile Court of Memphis & Shelby County

Judge Ken Witcher
Macon County Juvenile Court

Executive Branch
Crissy Haslam
Tennessee First Lady

Will Cromer
Office of the Governor

Commissioner Larry Martin
Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration

Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH
Tennessee Department of Health

Commissioner Bill Gibbons
Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security

Director Mark Gwyn
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation

Commissioner Jim Henry
Tennessee Department of Children’s Services

Commissioner Derrick D. Schofield
Tennessee Department of Corrections

Commissioner E. Douglas Varney
Tennessee Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services

Press Releases

TN First Lady, Students Begin Planting in New Tennessee Residence Garden

Press release from the Office of the Tennessee First Lady Crissy Haslam; September 11, 2013:

NASHVILLE – First Lady Crissy Haslam today hosted approximately 60 3rd grade students from Crieve Hall Elementary School in Nashville at the Tennessee Residence to begin planting in the newly constructed Kitchen and Cutting Garden.

Students joined Mrs. Haslam in the garden to read the September Read20 Book of the Month, Janet Steven’s Tops and Bottoms, a folktale about gardening and vegetables. Following the reading, students participated in 3 activity stations to kick off planting in the garden: a guided tour of the Tennessee Residence, a farm-to-table cooking lesson with Residence Chef Stephen Ward, and a garden station to plant the first vegetables in the new garden.“We broke ground on the Kitchen and Cutting garden in May, and it is exciting to begin planting fruits and vegetables to serve in the food we prepare at Tennessee’s home,” said Mrs. Haslam. “It is a special treat to kick off planting with Tennessee students.”

As chair of the Tennessee Executive Residence and Preservation Foundation, Mrs. Haslam has been helping to generate private funds for the landscape renovation project at the Tennessee Residence. Phase II of the project included the construction of the Kitchen and Cutting Garden, sponsored by Tennessee companies Nissan North America and Scripps Networks Interactive. As part of their sponsorship, Scripps Networks Interactive helped to develop a Tennessee Residence Garden Guide for children that includes information about the garden, healthy eating, Tennessee Agriculture, activities for the classroom, and instructions for gardening at home. Tours of the garden will be available to visitors by scheduling a tour on the Tennessee Residence website,

“Growing your own produce is a great way to learn about many things including healthy fruits and vegetables, science, problem-solving, sustainability and the environment,” said Mrs. Haslam. “The Kitchen and Cutting Garden is an asset to share Tennessee traditions in agriculture and home gardening with students and visitors from across the state and country.”

For more information about the Kitchen and Cutting Garden or the Read20 Family Book Club visit,, or follow @CrissyHaslam on Twitter.

Press Releases

TN First Lady Hosts Family Reading Event at Cedars of Lebanon

Press release from the Office of Tennessee First Lady Crissy Haslam; August 20, 2013:

NASHVILLE – First Lady Crissy Haslam hosted a Read20 Family Book Club event today at Cedars of Lebanon State Park in Lebanon to promote the importance of daily reading.

Approximately 90 3rd graders from Southside Elementary School in Lebanon joined Mrs. Haslam by campfire to read the August Book of the Month, Toasting Marshmallows: Camping Poems by Kristine O’Connell George. After the reading event, students visited the park’s Nature Center and hiking trails to learn more about Tennessee wildlife and forestry.

“There are many ways to enjoy reading, and it is important for children to explore different topics and styles of writing,” said Mrs. Haslam. “Children can grow love for reading by exploring topics that interest them, and sometimes they just need to find the right book!”

Literacy can be the most important skill for success in school, and the Read20 Family Book Club is an additional tool for families to enjoy daily reading. One book is selected each month as the featured “Book of the Month” and corresponding family activities are featured on the book club website, Families are encouraged to continue reading other books after they’ve finished the Book of the Month. The Read20 Family Book Club is geared toward elementary school-aged children and their families, and Mrs. Haslam highlights the importance of reading on grade level by the end of 3rd grade.

“Third grade is a very important year for students, when they transition from learning to read, to reading to learn,” said Mrs. Haslam. “If a student cannot read on grade level by the end of 3rd grade, their chances of succeeding in subsequent grades without reading intervention decreases dramatically.”

For more information about the Read20 Family Book Club visit,, follow @Read20TN on Twitter, or go to your local public library.

Press Releases

TN Children’s Cabinet Launches 2 ‘Major Initiatives’

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; July 15, 2013:

NASHVILLE – The Governor’s Children’s Cabinet co-chaired by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and First Lady Crissy Haslam today launched two major initiatives: the Tennessee School Readiness Model and

The first lady introduced both projects today at the Early Childhood Summit in Nashville.

“We are thrilled to launch these initiatives to help support Tennessee families in raising healthy children,” Mrs. Haslam said. “Students can be more successful in school and life when they enter the classroom healthy and prepared to learn.”

The Tennessee School Readiness Model describes goals to help Tennessee students enter the classroom prepared to learn. It provides indicators of what communities, schools and families need to do to promote children’s early learning and development.

“Readiness” is not seen solely as a condition within a child but is a condition that exists when communities, schools, and families create a nurturing environment for child development starting at birth. is a one-stop shop for Tennessee families to connect with important information and resources provided by state departments. This new website organizes content from across departments, making it easier for families to find what they need. In addition to articles about valuable topics relating to health, education and development, features a comprehensive directory of state services for children and families.

“I am grateful to the many parents, teachers, child care providers, state employees, and other stakeholders that participated in these projects,” Gov. Haslam said. “Our goal is to make these resources and information more accessible and useful to Tennessee families.”

A priority of the Children’s Cabinet is to coordinate, streamline and enhance initiatives across multiple departments to empower, educate, and engage Tennessee families. The School Readiness Model and are specific examples of the collaborative vision and leadership of the Children’s Cabinet and this administration.


First Lady Touring TN to Promote Good Parenting

Installing a laundromat in a school. Hosting theme parties for parents and students with educational components. Sending teachers and staff into the community to knock on doors and tell families what’s going on at their children’s school.

These are some of the ideas for involving parents in education highlighted in a report released today by First Lady Crissy Haslam’s office summarizing her work with 10 elementary and intermediate schools around the state during the 2011-12 school year.

“Parents and guardians are a child’s first and most important teacher, and their role in ensuring that children are beginning kindergarten with the foundational skills they need to be successful is crucial for the future of education and economic development in Tennessee,” the report, Parental Engagement in Tennessee, says.

The report links education to the economy and jobs efforts, emphasizes 3rd grade reading proficiency as a key marker of later success and lays out the ways Haslam’s office is trying to promote reading, volunteering in the schools, and mentoring of young parents. It also holds up as examples efforts like the bus tour put on by Dyersburg City Schools. Teachers and staff tour the community, talking with parents at churches, community centers and a neighborhood pool.

View a video of the bus tour here.


Press Releases

Nursery Growers Advising First Lady Haslam on Tennessee Residence Landscape Renovation

Press Release from the State of Tennessee, Feb 15, 2012:

First Lady Crissy Haslam and Commissioner Johnson tour Randall Walker Farms Nursery in Morrison, TN.

NASHVILLE – Tennessee First Lady Crissy Haslam met Feb. 15 with nursery growers and industry leaders and toured local nurseries to highlight Tennessee’s horticultural industry.

Mrs. Haslam met with a small group of nurserymen at Boskey’s Grille in Manchester for a brief discussion on industry issues and to enlist their support for the landscape renovation project at the Tennessee Residence in Nashville.

“Tennessee has a reputation worldwide as a producer of high quality horticultural products, so it’s only natural that we turn to Tennessee growers first to help with the landscape renovation project at the Tennessee Residence,” Haslam said. “I hope this project also brings much needed attention to an important industry that has had its difficulties in recent years.”

Mrs. Haslam hosted the First Lady’s Luncheon in October last year to announce the next phase of the Tennessee Residence Foundation’s preservation and renovation project and kick-off private fundraising efforts for the landscape project. More than 700 men and women from across the state attended the event, demonstrating their support. The foundation, chaired by Mrs. Haslam, will focus their private fundraising efforts to support the project, intended to bring the Residence grounds back to their original design and health, while focusing on vegetation original to the home and native of Tennessee.

State Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson joined Mrs. Haslam as they met with industry leaders and toured Randall Walker Farms and Hale and Hines Nursery in Warren County, which is known as the “Nursery Capital of the World.”

“Nursery and greenhouse products are among our state’s top agricultural commodities, generating nearly $300 million annually in farm income,” Johnson said. “We appreciate the First Lady highlighting this important industry sector by involving them in this project and recognizing the value of quality, locally grown products.”

Terry Hines of Hale and Hines Nursery in McMinnville said he welcomes the First Lady’s visit. “We’re happy that Mrs. Haslam has come to McMinnville to learn more about our industry. We’re honored that she’s looking to us for help with the Tennessee Residence landscape project. We have a great local industry with good people who produce a great product, so any attention is appreciated as we look to expand markets for our products.”

Tennessee has more than 700 nurseries, 300 greenhouses, 2,500 plant dealers and 400 landscapers certified across the state, producing 21.7 million containers of plants and 48,000 acres of growing area. Tennessee nurseries sell wholesale, retail and farm direct. For help on finding quality Tennessee nursery and greenhouse products, visit

Press Releases

Haslams Offer Holiday Tours of Governor’s Residence

Statement from Gov. Bill Haslam; Nov. 16, 2011:

Tennessee’s Home for the Holidays

As we mentioned in our last email, we’re beginning a new tradition this holiday season at the Tennessee Residence. “Tennessee’s Home for the Holidays” is a two-week long series of open house days where everyone is invited to share in the experience of holidays at the Residence. Tennessee’s home will be beautifully decorated inside and out with several Christmas trees throughout the house and Conservation Hall. We’ve heard wonderful stories about past holiday traditions cherished by families at the Residence, so we’re excited to open it up and share this new tradition with Tennessee.

We’ve tried to make the reservation process as easy as possible… Reservations can be made online by visiting the “Tennessee’s Home for the Holidays” page on Crissy’s website. Once there, just click the “plus” that corresponds to the time you would like to reserve. Please note that parking and the shuttle service will be running from a particular location each day. All times are first come, first serve so please make your reservations early.

Warmest regards,

Bill & Crissy

P.S. We are also proud to update you on the arrival of our new grandbaby. Will and Hannah welcomed Wyatt Edward Haslam into the world on Thursday, November 10. Mom and baby are well – we’ll be sure to share some photos in the very near future.

Press Releases

Crissy Haslam Leading Tennessee Residence Landscaping Renovation Effort

Press Release from the State of Tennessee, Oct. 6, 2011:

Private fundraising event will help renovate historic landscape of 90 year old Tennessee Residence

NASHVILLE – First Lady Crissy Haslam hosted the First Lady’s Luncheon to garner private funds for renovations and restorations of the Tennessee Residence grounds. Private funds will be used to restore the landscape back to its original design and will incorporate vegetation native to Tennessee. Funding will also be used to create an inventory system to document existing infrastructure and vegetation on the property and to create a plan to ensure the health and sustainability of the restored and renovated landscape.

“The Tennessee Residence is a beloved treasure for our state and we want to do what we can to restore and preserve the beautiful landscape that surrounds the Residence,” Mrs. Haslam said.

After a statewide search, Ben Page with Page Duke Landscape was selected to lead the renovation project. Page has been involved with several high profile projects which include the United States Naval Observatory, the official home of the Vice President of the United States.

More than 700 men and women from across the state joined the First Lady at the luncheon, demonstrating their support for the next phase of the Residence renovation project.

“I look forward to continuing to raise support for the Tennessee Residence, as we work to restore the Residence grounds, highlighting our state’s historic and unique vegetation that makes us all proud to call this beautiful state home,” Mrs. Haslam said.

For more information about First Lady Crissy Haslam you can visit or follow Mrs. Haslam’s efforts to improve early childhood literacy at or on twitter @CrissyHaslam.

Press Releases

Advocating Parental, Community Engagement in Education a Priority for TN First Lady

Press Release from the State of Tennessee, July 20, 2011: 

Mrs. Haslam joined educators at Lipscomb University in Nashville to introduce rural education panel

NASHVILLE – First Lady Crissy Haslam joined approximately 500 educators, administrators, policymakers, and other stakeholders for the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) Summit on Rural Education in Nashville on Tuesday.

The purpose of the two-day event is to highlight best practices and influence regional and national policy on education in rural communities.

“Our rural communities in Tennessee have specific needs, and I’m so glad that SCORE has organized this summit to discuss how we can continue successful strategies and improve best practices,” Haslam said.

Session topics at the Rural Education Summit include using technology to improve student achievement, strategies for improving high school graduation and college completion rates, improving rural community development through education strategies, increasing teacher retention, and improving early childhood education.

Haslam introduced a panel of educators who have successfully improved outcomes in a rural school or school system, in part by increasing parental involvement. As part of the First Lady’s initiative, Haslam will continue to stress the importance of parental and community engagement in education, highlighting those best practices of schools and community centers with effective and creative parent engagement plans, strategies, and programs.

“Parental and family engagement is a vital part of successfully educating our children,” Haslam said. “I am thrilled to be a part of this event geared specifically toward our rural communities.”