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'We are going to have more children in care' says senator pushing reforms to make adoption easier

Abortion ban will put more pressure on foster care system
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Posted at 6:37 PM, Jan 30, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-30 20:29:26-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Lawmakers are pushing a long list of reforms to make adoptions easier in Tennessee.

It's led by pro-life Republicans who say the state will see an increase in kids needing foster care because of Tennessee's abortion ban.

A big group of people gathered in a legislative conference room to hear proposals that have been more than six months in the making.

Senator Ferrell Haile, (R) Gallatin, led the effort to produce nearly 20 bills designed to make adoption easier in Tennessee.

"Normally, you don't see this many bills, this much energy," Haile said.

He believes Tennessee will start to see more kids come into the foster care system because of the state's abortion ban.

"I think we are going to have more children in care, and if we wait for those children to come into care, we are going to be even further behind," Senator Haile said.

One of the proposed bills would reduce caseloads for workers at the Department of Children's Services.

It seeks to cap caseloads at 20 per caseworker, but that cap would not go into effect for more than two years.

Another proposal would remove the sales tax on diapers, baby formula and wipes.

Another bill simply requires DCS to adjust its mission statement to reflect the concept its main goal is to support the "best interests of the child."

"It's beyond time for us to say we are pro-life, not just before birth, but after birth," Representative Jeremy Faison (R) Cosby said.

At least one Democratic lawmaker signed on to the reforms, but critics said it did not address immediate problems at DCS - like children sleeping in office buildings.

Lawmakers did not discuss how much this would cost.

"This is a noble and correct place to appropriate money," Representative Faison said.

"NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked, "Do you feel like the state has the money to do these things?"

Senator Haile said, "We're going to have to find the money."

They are expecting support from Gov. Lee in his upcoming budget.

The proposals also seek to address the high cost of childcare.

One bill would increase the number of children a person can watch in their home without having to register as a childcare facility.