What COVID-19 means for America’s Child Welfare System

By Ron Haskins and Morgan Welch of the Brookings Institution.

The COVID-19 crisis has allowed a revealing look into the shortcomings of the U.S.’s child welfare system. While no institution has proved strong enough to operate effectively and efficiently under the unprecedented circumstances brought on by COVID-19, the crisis has unveiled holes in the child welfare system that call for both immediate and long-term action. COVID-19 has created a perfect storm of factors that will almost certainly lead to a sharp increase in unreported cases of child abuse and neglect, as children are cut off from interactions with professionals and teachers, confined at home with caregivers and relatives, and families are feeling the stress of job loss and economic uncertainty.

Read blog here.

Kansas Department of Children and Families announces additional support to family-based providers

In this communication, the Department for Children and Families acknowledges that schools closings may have created additional mealtime and other expenses for your family-based providers. To help offset those additional costs, the Department is providing an additional temporary rate increase of $8.00 per day for each child in the foster care program. DCF will apply the higher rate from March 23 to May 15, 2020.

“This additional $8.00 daily rate augments the current level of care payment for each child. Caregivers will notice this increase with their April 5, 2020 reimbursement. These rates will happen automatically and no action is required by the caregiver. Currently this rate increase is approved only for the critical period of school closures; March 23 to May 15. Rates will return to previous daily amount at the end of this period.”

dcf.ks.gov/COVID19/Documents/COVID-19_Family-basedProvidersGuidance.pdf(opens in a new tab)

Read letter here.

Oklahoma Human Services provides additional support to resource families

Oklahoma’s Director of Child Welfare Services writes to foster parents to announce additional support to assist families during the pandemic.

“During this incredibly difficult time, our thoughts have continually returned to the families we serve, including our wonderful resource families, and how we can best support you as you care for Oklahoma’s children. We know that schools being closed and children returning home full-time have dramatically impacted your lives and resources due to unexpected costs. For this reason and in a desire to offer supports that positively impact placement stability, Oklahoma Human Services (OKDHS) is excited to provide $250 per month, per child in OKDHS custody as emergency relief to your family for these unexpected expenses.”

Read letter here.

New Mexico Dept. of Children, Youth and Families Provides Foster Families Additional Support

Secretary Blalock writes to foster parents to announce that they will be receiving an additional $175/month/child to support the needs of children and youth effective April 2020 and continuing until emergency restrictions are lifted. This represents an approximate 25% increase in the average foster care rate for each child each month during this period of crisis.
“We hope this temporary increase helps your family adjust and address emergent needs with children and young people being home for the rest of the school year and the many other ways the stay-at-home order is likely affecting your family.”

Read letter here.

South Carolina Department of Social Services provides much needed support to foster families

South Caroline DSS issued a letter to foster parents announcing that they will be receiving an additional $90/month/child to support the needs of children and youth to begin the month of March 2020 and continuing throughout the Covid-19 emergency declaration period. The temporary increase aims to “help your family address emergent needs with children and young people being home from school and the many other ways the home or work order is likely affecting your family.”

South Caroline is one of several states, including New Mexico, using increased FMAP to provide additional financial support to foster families.

Letter here.

NY Advocates and Service Providers Urge State Leaders to Address Child and Family Well-being

Advocates and service providers working with families impacted by the child welfare system write to Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Poole and urge the following action steps:

  • Enact a temporary moratorium on “aging out” of foster care
  • Provide COVID-19 Emergency Response Pay for foster parents, frontline staff and reunified families
  • Provide technology and support to ensure children and families remain connected:
  • Restore funding support for local kinship caregiver programs:
  • Ensure young people with current and previous foster care experience can access the benefits to which they are entitled
  • Address delays in permanency by making hearings essential business for Family Court
  • Ensuring kin and non-related foster families can be expeditiously approved as resource families:
  • Ensure all families can access necessary supports to maintain stability in the home

Read full letter here.

Alabama organizations urge Congress to act swiftly to address impacts on children and families caused by the Covid-19 pandemic

Alabama organizations are among more than 570 national, state and local organizations that are urging Congress for emergency child welfare support to address the COVID-19 crisis. Read letter here.

Addiction Prevention Coalition
Alabama Lifespan Respite
Alabama Network of Family Resource Centers
Alabama Partnership for Children
Alfred Saliba Family Services Center
Autauga County Family Support Center
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Birmingham
Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Alabama
Black Belt Fatherhood Initiative

Child Abuse Prevention Services of Tuscaloosa
Child Care Resource Center, Inc.
Children’s Trust Fund of Alabama
Circle of Care
Dallas County Family Resource Center
East Alabama Mental Health
Family Guidance Center of Alabama, Inc.
Family Service Center (Bay Minette)
Family Services Center (Huntsville)
Family Services Center of Calhoun County, Inc.
Family Success Center of Etowah County, Inc.
FIRST Family Service Center
Friend of the Court/CASA of Shelby County HOPE PLACE Family Resource Center
Jasper Area Family Services Center, Inc.
Kid One Transport System, Inc.
Loving and Learning Parent Program
Madison County Elementary Loving and Learning Parents Club
Parents And Children Together (PACT)
Pickens County Family Resource Center
Prevent Child Abuse Alabama
Shepherd’s Cove In School Bereavement Program
Sowing Seeds of Hope, Inc.
Sylacauga Alliance for Family Enhancement, Inc.
Teens Empowerment Awareness with ResolutionS, Inc. (TEARS)
The Children and Family Connection of Russell County, Inc.
Tuscaloosa’s One Place
United Ability
United Cerebral Palsy of NW Alabama
United Methodist Inner City Mission
VOICES for Alabama’s Children
YWCA Central Alabama

Commissioner of Virginia Department of Social Services Letter to Congress

In this letter Commissioner Duke Storen urges supports for federal funding including:

  • $1 billion for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) Grants to help states and local organizations better meet the increased need for child abuse prevention programs and adapt services to account for social distancing.
  • $500 million for CAPTA Title I to help ensure child welfare agencies’ response, investigations, and interventions of child abuse and neglect are not dangerously upended.
  • An increase in FMAP for Title IV-E Prevention Program to help make affordable mental health and substance disorder services and other interventions that support family stabilization and keep children safe but out of foster care.
  • An increase to the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) is needed to help states fill in gaps to critical services including child protective services, child abuse prevention supports, domestic violence services, and foster care.

Letter here.

Letter from Secretary Ross Hunter of Washington’s Department of Children, Youth, and Families to Congressional Delegation

In this letter, Sec Hunters outlines recommends areas in need of federal stimulus, including:

  • Social Service Block Grant (SSBG) increase of $100 million for Washington State
  • Resources to serve older youth in Extended Foster Care (EFC)
  • The purchase of concrete goods, such as reliable technology for brth parents, foster parents, caregivers, service providers and others
  • The ability to provide monetary support to kinship caregivers, in both formal and informal care settings, while mitigating the risk of child abuse and neglect.

Read letter here.

Ohio Gov. DeWine will cover costs of youth “aging out” of foster care until end of pandemic

OLUMBUS, Ohio – Gov. Mike DeWine announced the state will continue to cover the costs for youth in foster care who are turning 18 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to DeWine, more than 200 people will “age out” of Ohio’s foster care system in the next three months.

“For many of these young people, their future looks uncertain because of COVID-19, whether their plan was to start a career or pursue higher education. This program will provide them with a safety net during these difficult times,” DeWine said.

Article here

California Executive Order on Older Youth In and Aging Out of Foster Care

Executive Order here

Provisions include:

  • The Department may verify foster youth status for the purpose of facilitating foster youth access to programs providing cellular telephones or other communication technology to foster youth.
  • Waiver of State extended foster care eligibility for all youth entering or reentering extended foster care requiring any physical, in-person, face-to-face application, meetings, visits, and signature requirements.
  • Suspension of the maximum age criteria for nonminor dependents who turn 21 on or after the date of this Order.

Illinois DCFS Director Letter to FCAA-IL

Letter from DCFS Director to Foster Care Alumni Association-IL to express thanks for efforts to ensure that youth in transition are provided services and resources necessary to maintain their safety and health during this difficult time. The letter outlines the steps that DCFS is taking  to address the elevated needs of youth in transition.  Letter here

Rhode Island Executive Order on Extended Foster Care

Executive Order, dated April 14, 2020, provides protections for older youth in foster care so they can continue receiving services as well as some additional assistance. Executive Order here.

The executive order suspends age requirements for youth in extended care and aftercare programs to allow provision of services after a youth turns age 21.

Eligible youth include youth who are participating in the programs (extended care and aftercare) as of Jan 1, 2020 through June 30, 2020. Services shall continue for up to 60 days after the termination of the state’s disaster declaration.

The child welfare agency shall provide funds for this order through a request out of the general fund or any other available federal or state funds that may come available.

Alaska organizations urge Congress to act swiftly to address impacts on children and families caused by the Covid-19 pandemic

Alaska organizations are among more than 570 national, state and local organizations that are urging Congress for emergency child welfare support to address the COVID-19 crisis. Read letter here.

Alaska Association for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Association
Alaska Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics
Alaska Children’s Alliance
Alaska Children’s Trust
Bristol Bay Native Association
Catholic Community Service, Inc.
CCS Early Learning
Fairbanks Youth Advocates
Kids Corps, Inc.
Mat-Su Health Foundation
Nine Star Education & Employment Services
Nine Star Enterprises
Onward & Upward
Rural Alaska Community Action Program, Inc.
Southeast Alaska Association for the Education of Young Children
Stone Soup Group
The Carol H. Brice Family Center
Thrivalaska Head Start Birth to Five
Unalaskans Against Sexual Assault & Family Violence
VOA Alaska
YWCA Alaska