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Opinion | Tennessee's troubled foster care system is even worse than we thought

ABC24 Political Analyst Otis Sanford gives his Point of View on Tennessee's State of the Child report.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — We already knew that the state of Tennessee is doing a horrible job caring for children in foster care. 

Now we know the problem is even worse than we thought. 

A state agency report leaves no doubt about the gravity of the issue. Tennessee struggles with foster care instability at a level not seen in the rest the country.  That’s a direct quote from the report released last week by the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth.

The report found that over 33% of children removed from their homes because of abuse and neglect – are placed in three or more foster homes in the first 12 months. 

That’s more than a third of foster kids being shuttled to three or more different places in a year. The national average is just under 15%. And this is not new. Tennessee has had the nation’s highest rate of foster care instability since 2016 – with fewer children being placed in settled neighborhoods – and more going to development centers and juvenile justice facilities.

This is unacceptable, and everyone in state government – from the governor on down – should be embarrassed. Democratic lawmakers are right to keep criticizing Governor Bill Lee’s administration and legislative leaders for failing our foster children. But this is not a partisan issue. Everyone should be working together to get this fixed and remove a terrible stain – on our state.

I’m Otis Sanford, and that’s my point of view.

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