Foster Care

Living with Systems: Foster Care

All youth in foster care, ages 14 and older need credit checks regularly and the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (DCS) will perform credit checks for all young adults in care.  Teens in care need as much normalcy as possible, and DCS also has Independent Living Wrap funds available to help pay for driving school, graduation packages, year books, prom and more. Teens in custody with questions about what activities are covered under the Independent Living Wrap funds should contact their DCS Caseworker and/or their Independent Living Specialist.

When a young adult ages out of care (turns 18 while still in care) they will receive all essential documents (for example: state identification card, social security card, medical records, birth certificate, education records, etc.). If a young person exited custody without essential documents, they can contact 844-887-7277 or their former worker. A young person that has aged out of care also has the option to accept extension of foster care services if enrolled in a post-secondary education setting.  Post-Secondary financial aid is available for any young person who exited foster care after age 16 up until age 23. For more information, contact Independent Living Scholarship Coordinator Dave Shonts ( or (615) 532-9646) for more information or the Independent Living Specialist, if applicable. All teens that age out of care are eligible to receive TennCare until age 26. For more information, go to or call 1-800-318-2596 to apply or visit your local DHS office.

The Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative Resource Centers in Tennessee help youth ages 14 and older who have been in foster care to develop financial skills.
Resource Contact info:

  • Middle TN: Monroe Harding Youth Connections  (615) 226-3614
  • Memphis: South Memphis Alliance (901) 774-9582
  • East TN: Project Now (865) 544-5000 Ext. 2667
  • Chattanooga: The River City Youth Collective (423) 755-2822
Jim Casey Youth Leadership Institute

Each year a young adult is nominated for the Jim Casey Youth Leadership Institute (YLI).  YLI is an opportunity for local young leaders to further develop their leadership and advocacy skills, connect to the national youth engagement and policy strategies, and take the first step toward becoming a Jim Casey Young Fellow. Young Fellows serve as national experts and partner with the national Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative team as they continue to serve as leaders in their local site. Participants will decide if they are interested in applying to the Fellowship after completing YLI.

Young Adult Advisory Accountability Council

YAAAC Is a youth board for central office DCS. Youth that are active members of their local Y4Y (Youth for Youth) boards are welcome to apply to be a member of YAAAC. Members of YAAAC provide a youth voice to DCS Central office in the areas of policy and program improvement.