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Don HowardMy name is Don Howard.  I attended an NAS, Neo-Natal Abstinence Syndrome, Lunch & Learn seminar on April 7, 2015, as a representative of the State of Tennessee, Department of Children’s Services.  This seminar was my first exposure to ASAP, Allies for Substance Abuse Prevention, and I attended my first ASAP meeting later that month.

I have over 12 years of service with the Department and more than 10 years of that time was spent in CPS, Child Protective Services.  I left the Department in November 2009 to become a foster parent for a short time, but I returned to work for the Department in September 2011, as an Anderson County CPS Assessment case manager.  I worked in this CPS Assessment position for more than two years and I encountered many problems with parents & other household members abusing pills, methamphetamine and/or other substances.  The addictions led to some removal of children from the home of the parents and placement with a relative or into State custody.  These disruptions are usually very devastating for children and the trauma can have many consequences for their lives, as the children resort to survival behaviors that can result in hording, lying, stealing and/or other negative influences.

It is sad when too many parents allow the drugs to overtake their lives and they become incarcerated or uninterested in raising their children.  There are many parents that will not admit that they have a drug problem and they are more concerned with altering a drug screen by substituting a child’s urine or some clean person’s urine or doing something else to falsify a drug test.  Some parents can complete in-patient treatment and/or outpatient treatment, but too many parents relapse at the expense of their children and relatives.

In November 2013, I was transferred to the Department’s Foster Parent Support staff.  Due to the drug problems of parents and for many other reasons, the Department will always need quality foster parents.  Will you consider being a foster parent?  If not, will you go through the background checks; PATH, Parents As Tender Healers, classes; and a home study to do respite (ie. one to three nights of foster care in emergency situations)?  You are needed by the Department for the children that sometimes have to spend a night or two in one of the Department’s offices while awaiting placement.

Please call me, Don Howard, 865-425-4537, or e-mail me at Donald.howard@tn.gov , if you need more information.

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