Johnson City

Foster parents helping silent victims of domestic violence

Silent victims

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - Domestic violence affects both men and women, but there are also silent victims -- the children.

A new study by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) shows more than 15,000 children in Tennessee faced abuse by a parent between 2011 and 2013.

That makes up about 10 percent of all domestic violence victims in the state during that time period, according to TBI.

The Tennessee Department of Children's Services (DCS) told us some of those children may end up in foster care, or stay with their family. They said each case is different.

Youth Villages is a local non-profit that helps find foster families for children with varying degrees of abuse or neglect.

The organization's foster family recruiter, Aisha Ellerson, told us no matter why children get into the system, foster care is a last resort. "We do feel like the child is best raised by someone that they know, a family member," said Ellerson.

She told us they usually try to solve any problem at home before considering the removal of the child from the situation. "We get counselors, go out to the home of the family and child," Ellerson said. "It's kind of like an intervention."

If that doesn't work, they start to consider foster care, she told us.

Tamica Carlisle has been a foster mother through Youth Villages for the last year. She's raising a teenage girl. "I am excited to see how she evolves as a person," Carlisle said. "She's made a great deal of progress and I think we're a good fit."

Carlisle is one one of 4,500 foster parents in Tennessee, according to the Department of Children's Services. She told us it's something she's always wanted to do. "It definitely comes with its challenges but you kind of have to make a decision early on that you're going to stick with it because the stability and consistency is what's going to be most important to that child," Carlisle said.

Carlisle told us she's comfortable with the uncertainty that comes with being a foster parent. "If it means adoption, okay. If it means returning to home, then that's okay," she said. "I'm confident whatever is supposed to happen will happen."

Youth Villages told us they're always looking for foster families. You can call Aisha Ellerson for more information at (423)-283-6527.

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