Shocking Study Ranks Tennessee First in Disturbing Foster Care Relocation Rates


Did You Know?

There are more than 7,000 children in Tennessee’s foster care system. The state receives support from over 4,000 foster families, but more foster/adoptive parents are needed, along with volunteers who can provide crucial support to foster families.

While there is a need for foster care for children of all ages, the greatest need is for foster/adoptive parents for older children and siblings.

According to a recent study released by the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, Tennessee has earned the dubious distinction of ranking first in the nation for the frequency at which foster children are uprooted from their homes. In the year 2020, a staggering 33.7% of children within the Tennessee foster care system experienced the disheartening reality of being relocated to three or more different homes within their initial 12 months of being in custody.

Ronda Paulson, the visionary behind Isaiah 117 House, sheds light on the emotional toll such frequent upheaval takes on these young souls. “When children are abruptly separated from their homes, it’s not uncommon for them to internalize blame,” she shared. Paulson’s nonprofit organization offers a refuge for children who find themselves in state custody, serving as a transitional space between two pivotal phases of the foster placement journey: the moment of removal from their previous residence and the subsequent transfer to a foster family.



Paulson passionately emphasizes the critical importance of getting the initial placement right. Despite fervent efforts to reassure these vulnerable children that their circumstances are not their fault and that they are cherished, these affirmations can be overshadowed when they are subjected to repeated shifts from one home to another. In her words, “Constant relocation can reinforce a false belief that there is something inherently flawed about them. The potential consequences are stark, as a young adult who enters the world feeling unwanted or inherently flawed is often set on a challenging path.”

The narrative revealed by the study underscores the pressing need for a more stable and nurturing environment for these children during their transitional phases. Paulson’s tireless dedication to creating a haven for them not only offers physical respite but also aims to counteract the negative impacts of instability on their emotional well-being.

The report’s findings provide a sobering reflection on the state of foster care in Tennessee, emphasizing the urgency of addressing the challenges faced by these vulnerable children. Ronda Paulson’s endeavors through Isaiah 117 House highlight the significance of providing a consistent and caring support system during a time when stability is most needed. As we collectively strive to improve the lives of these young individuals, it becomes evident that the well-being of future generations hinges on our commitment to offer solace, understanding, and a sense of belonging to those who need it most.

How To Become a Foster Parent

Adopting a Child in Tennessee: A Guide to the Process and Requirements

Adopting a child is a profound and rewarding journey that brings families together and changes lives forever. In the state of Tennessee, the Department of Children’s Services is committed to facilitating the adoption process for children who are in its guardianship. This article aims to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the requirements and steps involved in adopting a child in Tennessee.

Understanding the Adoption Process

The Department of Children’s Services endeavors to finalize adoptions for children who are legally free for adoption within a span of 12 months. This commitment reflects the agency’s dedication to finding stable and loving homes for children in need. Whether you’re already considering adoption or have preliminary questions, this guide is designed to offer valuable insights into the process.

Considering Adoption: Your First Step

Before delving into the adoption process, it’s important to reflect on your motivations and aspirations. Are you solely interested in adoption, or are you open to becoming a foster parent as well? It’s worth noting that the Department of Children’s Services primarily collaborates with individuals who are willing to become foster parents. Approximately 80% of adopted children from foster care are placed with families who have been their foster parents.

This approach ensures that children have a consistent and supportive environment while they navigate the challenges of change and uncertainty. By becoming a foster parent first, you create a foundation of care, safety, and love that can seamlessly transition into an adoptive relationship if the opportunity arises.

Adoption Eligibility and Requirements

Becoming an adoptive parent in Tennessee is a responsibility that is open to a diverse range of individuals. The following eligibility criteria outline the qualities and circumstances that potential adoptive parents should meet:

  • Marital Status: You can be married, single, or divorced.
  • Existing Children: Whether or not you have other children does not impact your eligibility.
  • Housing: You can own your own home or rent a property.
  • Employment: Both full-time and part-time employment statuses are acceptable.
  • Age: You must be at least 21 years old.
  • Residency: You need to be a resident of the State of Tennessee.
  • Financial and Emotional Capability: You must demonstrate the ability to meet the financial and emotional needs of your own family and the child you wish to adopt.

Ultimately, the key to becoming an adoptive parent lies in your stability and capacity to provide the love, care, and support that a child requires. If you possess these qualities and are willing to embrace the responsibilities of adoption, you may be well-suited to embark on this life-changing journey.



Adopting a child is a momentous undertaking that holds the potential to transform lives and create a lasting bond of love and belonging. The Department of Children’s Services is dedicated to guiding families through this process and finding suitable homes for children in need. By becoming a foster parent and opening your heart and home, you not only provide stability to a child’s life but also lay the groundwork for a potential lifelong connection through adoption. If you’re ready to embark on this meaningful path, you’re taking a significant step toward changing a child’s future for the better.

To Learn More Visit Tennessee Department of Children’s Sevices.