NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Children's Services is asking for more than $8 million to hire new staff and make other improvements to the agency that has been highly scrutinized over children's deaths.
Commissioner Kate O'Day and her staff met with Governor Bill Haslam on Thursday during budget hearings for fiscal year 2013-2014. Haslam has asked state departments to develop plans for a five percent spending cut as a fallback.
O'Day said part of the money would be used to hire more case workers and attorneys.
"These are very high stress jobs for our staff. We're working with very complex family issues," O'Day said. "Many times we're seeing the next generation and the next generation."
The agency has released information that showed 31 children it had investigated died during the first half of 2012.
"We certainly want to preserve individual accountability for people. We have to be accountable for our actions," O'Day said.
Haslam said granting the entire $8.6 million request would be tough because of a tight budget, but said he understood the need.
Besides DCS, other agencies scheduled to present their budgets on Thursday include Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and Labor and Workforce Development.