Editorial Summary: Tennessee | Virginia News


Kingsport Times News. June 26, 2022.

Editorial: Do you have what it takes to be a foster parent?

As Frontier Health seeks foster parents to help meet a growing need in the region, the Census Bureau reports that nearly 18.5 million American children are growing up without a father. The United States holds the title of world leader in fatherlessness.

Frontier Health says the pandemic has had a “disastrous impact” on foster care systems in northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia, with more children entering foster care at a time when there are fewer adoptive parents available to care for them.

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“The past two years have also seen fewer foster parents fostering children for fear of endangering the health of their own birth family,” Frontier says.

As a result, some children temporarily spent nights in the offices of state child welfare agencies in Tennessee and Virginia.

Noelle Grimes, Frontier Division Director for Ongoing Services for Children, said “there is a great need for families willing to welcome and provide safe, nurturing and supportive homes for children who need to be placed in host family”.

It’s not just a local problem. We just celebrated Father’s Day with about 80% of single-parent households headed by single mothers, resulting in nearly 25% of children growing up without a father at home, say U.S. Representatives Burgess Owens, Byron Donalds and Jack Brewer .

They support legislation promoting fatherhood and the “vital role it plays for children.” We know fatherhood is critical to the development of our children, and increased father involvement in the home leads to better results on a wide variety of outcomes. From economic prosperity, from improving academic performance to improving social mobility; fathers in their respective homes continue to be a key indicator of success for all children of all racial, ethnic and socio-economic groups. That’s why we’ve joined forces to introduce a resolution in the US House of Representatives that promotes fatherhood and its proven benefits to society.

Frontier Health asks families to participate in one of its two therapeutic foster care programs. TRACES is a child placement agency licensed by the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services. VALUES is similarly designated by the Virginia Department of Social Services.

Frontier says the two programs will help train parents who want to open their homes to foster children.

Tennessee and Virginia also provide a monthly financial stipend to foster families to help care for the children they foster.

“We’re here for foster parents 24/7,” said Alexandra Enriquez, foster parent recruiter and trainer for VALUES. “We will help you every step of the way.”

Enriquez said it takes two years of training to become a foster parent. She said the programs also include outside resources to help meet the special needs of children in therapeutic care. She notes that the average length of stay for a child in a foster home in Virginia is 21 months.

Tennessee residents interested in becoming foster parents should contact TRACES at frontierhealth.org/foster/traces/. Virginia residents can access VALUES at frontierhealth.org/foster/values/.

“If you have the heart and desire to become an adoptive parent, we want to hear from you,” Enriquez said.

Johnson City Press. June 25, 2022.

Editorial: A hot car is no place for your babies – human or otherwise

Every summer, disturbing reports arrive of children left in suffocating vehicles. Many of these cases are fatal. The National Safety Council reports that an average of 39 children under the age of 15 die of heatstroke after being left in a vehicle each year in the United States.

More than half occurred because a child was forgotten. From 1990 to 2019, 35 children have died in Tennessee.

A Stanford University School of Medicine study found that a vehicle’s interior can heat up an average of 40 degrees in an hour, regardless of the outside temperature. The study found that when it’s 85 degrees outside, the inside of a car can reach 104 degrees after 10 minutes and 119 after 30 minutes.

Eighty percent of the temperature increase occurred in the first half hour. The danger does not only come in hot weather. The sun’s rays are the culprit. Stanford reported that deaths have occurred in outdoor conditions as cold as 70 degrees.

Despite prevention campaigns, such as the “Look Before You Lock” initiative, this problem shows no signs of abating. In 2018, a record number of 53 children died, followed closely in 2019 with 52. These figures do not take into account children who survive after being rescued. One has to wonder how many are not reported. Awareness is definitely lacking, so a stronger intervention is needed.

In addition to dozens of children, hundreds of pets die every year after being left in burning cars.

The Washington County/Johnson City Animal Shelter regularly receives calls during warmer months reporting pets locked in vehicles.

So what if you see a child or animal in distress left in a hot vehicle? Calling 911 is your first step. If others are around, a search party for the driver would be in order. As a last resort, Tennessee law allows you to break a window to save a child or pet from a locked vehicle, but you must contact law enforcement first.

For parents, caregivers, and pet owners, however, the best defense against a horrible outcome is proper attention. If you must have a child with you on your trip, follow this “look twice before locking” advice. Use your phone to set reminder alerts. Stick a note on your own door. Place the things you need for your trip or for work in the back seat with the child.

For pet owners, unless you’re heading to a vet, groomer, dog park, or other household for a visit, there’s little reason for you to drag Fido or Mittens around with you. Leaving a cracked window is not enough.

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