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

Featured NewsTracker Transparency and Elections

Ready, Set, Redraw!

House Speaker Beth Harwell indicates she wants the GOP-dominated General Assembly to avoid “political gerrymandering” in the redrawing of the Tennessee’s legislative and congressional districts.

However, the final shape the lines take will ultimately have to suit her party’s preferences, says the Nashville Republican.

A Republican-led House ad hoc committee met briefly on Thursday to lay out the ground rules on the redistricting process. Lawmakers have until April 5, 2012 to approve new district lines, however they expect to work through the summer and fall to come to a consensus by the January kick off of the 2012 legislative session.

“I want to avoid any type of political gerrymandering, although I will say that the state has clearly spoken last election cycle and the Republican Party is the majority party in this state,” Harwell told TNReport this week.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Tennessee has a population 6,346,105 people. Lawmakers will be charged with evenly breaking up the state into nine Congressional districts, 33 state Senate districts and 99 districts in the state House of Representatives.

That boils down to an ideal population of 705,123 people in each Congressional district, 192,306 in each Senate district and 64,102 in each House district, although the Legislature will have a 10 percent leeway.

House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh and Caucus Chairman Mike Turner say they are, so far, optimistic the process will be fair to their minority party. is an independent nonprofit news organization supported by donors like you.