The Joint Task Force on Children’s Justice/Child Sexual Abuse fulfils state and federal mandates, specifically Tennessee Code Annotated 37-1-603 and the Children’s Justice Act, 42 U.S.C. 5101 et seq. This group’s role is to advise and assist the state departments, including the departments of Children’s Services, Education, Health, Mental Health/Development Disabilities, and Human Services; child advocates; service providers; law enforcement; and the judiciary in carrying out their duties related to child protection and responding to child abuse and neglect.
The Joint Task Force has been instrumental in supporting the implementation of the multidisciplinary child protection response model, which is the core legal framework of Tennessee’s Child Protective Services (CPS) program. In addition, the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services recommended the Task Force to serve in the capacity of the State Advisory Board to the local Community Advisory Boards. The Joint Task Force Community Partners Committee would serve as the liaison to the State Advisory Board by submitting to the board two (2) reports within a year that identifies needed resources, gaps in services, and community projects that are occurring across the state of Tennessee.
The membership of the Joint Task Force represents many professional disciplines (i.e. child advocates, judges, social workers, physicians, law enforcement, etc.) and several levels of government. Therefore, the Joint Task Force as a whole has a unique lens through which it observes and seeks to influence the efficiency and effectiveness of Tennessee’s child protection system.
Every two (2) years the Joint Task Force collaborates with the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (TDCS) to create a plan that identifies areas of concern pertaining to child sexual abuse and other child welfare issues along with proposed action steps to address those concerns. The Joint Task Force has committees that develop work products, provide oversight on the activities that are listed on the plan, and make recommendations for change to the appropriate parties. The work of the Joint Task Force is facilitated by a TDCS contract with the University of Tennessee College of Social Work, Office of Research and Public Services (UT-SWORPS).