Kickoff meeting scheduled for August 3
When children are removed from their homes out of concern for their welfare, they are normally taken to an office at the Department of Children’s Services to await placement with a foster family. This wait can last from several houses up to a full day.
Ronda Paulson, Executive Director and Founder of the Isaiah 117 House, started the Isaiah 117 House project just over a year ago in Carter County, Tennessee, with the goal of providing children a safe and friendly place to wait during the placement process. The Isaiah 117 House is staffed with volunteers who provide children with clean clothes, toys, snuggly blankets, and a smile. Inside the house, children are provided the comfort and care they need while DCS completes the necessary paperwork and identification of a foster placement. According to the project’s website, the Isaiah 117 House is “a place always ready to take in the children of the region during their time of need and help children that are undergoing an inevitably traumatic transition.”
Susan Johnson, with Grundy County’s Discover Together program, heard Paulson speak during Children’s Advocacy Days in Nashville, in March. She immediately thought of the children of Grundy County.
“I kept thinking to myself that this doesn’t happen in Grundy County,” explained Johnson. “I have always thought that the children in our county go to extended family members; however, there is still a lot of work to be done by DCS staff to ensure that the placement is safe- family or not. It can take hours for a child to be placed with a family.
“Ask yourself this question, ‘Where do children in Grundy County go while awaiting placement?’ Remember that Grundy doesn’t have a Department of Children’s Service office. Children in Grundy County sometimes are removed at the courthouse and are then taken into the room behind where the judge sits; driven off the mountain to a DCS office; or sometimes the children are taken to the county jail to sit with DCS staff while awaiting placement. DCS staff is with the child the entire time. DCS does everything that they can do to find the child a safe placement while watching the child.
“The Isaiah 117 House can help the DCS staff and the child. The message that we want children to receive is that they have done nothing wrong, and they are loved, all while reducing the trauma for the child.”
Johnson is spearheading the move to bring an Isaiah 117 House to Grundy County and surrounding areas. The plan is for a program that will serve children Grundy, Franklin, and Coffee counties.
“The first step in the approval process was having an official meeting with DCS to make sure that they wanted and needed these services,” said Johnson. “I am excited to say that we have received approval from DCS to move forward with this project.”
On August 3, at 10 a.m., in the Grundy County High School cafeteria, there will be a kickoff event with an Expansion Committee meeting. This meeting is open to everyone who would to discover more about this project and how they can work with Ronda Paulson to make this house a reality. If anyone has any questions and would like more information, feel free to email Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.