Social Work Office of Research & Public Service

Relative Caregiver Program

The Relative Caregiver Program provides a comprehensive system of information, referrals, and support services that will promote resource awareness and stability for families.

The Relative Caregiver Program serves families in northeast Tennessee who are raising related children. These include grandparents, aunts/uncles, and other related family members. The goal is to keep these children with family and not have them enter DCS custody. Services include home visits, support groups, resource linkage, financial assistance, and fun, free outings for the families. Eligible families receive a stipend.

The Power of Family

We demonstrate this by working to ensure that every child that support safe, stable, nurturing family relationships and multiple paths to success and self-sufficiency. We believe children have better outcomes when they remain in their birth family whenever safely possible. In addition, we believe siblings benefit from staying together or having regular contact. RCP works with the whole family, including birth parents when available and appropriate.


We demonstrate this by identifying and supporting the goals of the family, and they become invested in the outcomes. RCP works with the family to develop comprehensive, evidence based, stabilizing, and positive outcome-oriented services.

Dignity and Worth

We demonstrate this by ensuring that services and interventions reflect the diverse needs of the parents we serve. The whole family is treated with respect and dignity RCP staff.  

Strengths-Based Services

We demonstrate this by Staff is sensitive to the limitations and strengths within individual families and work with families from a strengths-based perspective. Family privacy and confidentiality is paramount to family stability, by showing respect and regard for each person’s unique lived experience, strengths, and beliefs, and by being transparent about our decision making and our outcomes.


We demonstrate this by creating an environment where power is shared and trust is created to enable a parent, family, and community to actively work together toward change that will result in safe, stable, nurturing relationships for children. Coaches provide services that consider the safety and effects of re-traumatizing children when we provide services. RCP will empower and promote stability and independence for families. Intergenerational families are unique, and we must practice effective ways to serve them, while ensuring the safety of each member. By working with families, and the Triad of the biological family when appropriate, we can have a positive generational impact upon the children in their care.


Our families maintain stability/continued placement at a 99% rate. Our goal is to see families stay together and to see the children being taken care of by them thrive.

  • Self-sufficiency
  • Family stability and permanency
  • Advocacy for resources and supports
  • Home visits

Team Members

Hope Bright

Lead Family Coach

Dusty Cantrell

Program Manager

Angel Fenner

Family Coach

Amanda Sells

Family Coach

Leighanne Sisk

Admin Associate

Michelle Slemp

Family Coach

SWORPS Relative Caregiver Program Referral Form