State of Tennessee: Youth in Transition

Every year, thousands of young men and women age out of the foster care system lacking the stability and life skills to prepare them to live as productive adults. Many of these youths will find themselves without a high school degree and unable to secure gainful employment, which can lead to homelessness, poverty and entry into the criminal justice system. This session highlighted innovative approaches states are taking to protect foster care children and provide hope to those who find themselves rapidly aging out of the foster care system..

Aging Out of Foster Care
Friday, December 11, 2015

Sponsored by the CSG Interbranch Affairs Committee

Presentation by John L. Johnson, Director of Foster Care, Kinship, Guardianship and Adoptions, Tennessee Department of Children’s Services and
Michael Leach, Director of Independent & Transitional Living, Tennessee Department of Children’s Services



Speaker Biographies:  

Johnson has 18 years of experience with child welfare practice in Tennessee, starting as a part-time social counselor at Indian Mound Boys Home for Delinquent Youth. His experience with the Tennessee public child welfare agency, the Department of Children’s Services, includes service as case manager, front-line supervisor and experience in the Training Division during the agency’s implementation of its family group conferencing model, Child and Family Team Meetings. He has extensive experience in the field of foster care and adoption related to implementation of universal screening/assessment, implementation of evidence-based practices, data collection and other areas of quality improvements across family systems.

Leach leads the Independent Living team at the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, which is charged with building networks of appropriate supports and services for youth transitioning out of care, as well as for those who are likely to remain in care after turning 18. Leach and his team help youth attain and sustain ongoing connections with caring adults, acquire and maintain gainful employment, achieve educational/vocational goals, and receive financial assistance and skills training. He previously worked in clinical roles at the Vanderbilt Center of Excellence and Child and Adolescent Outpatient Clinic. He also has experience in facilitating crisis response services at a community mental health center. In 2014, Leach received the annual TN CASA Champion of Children award.