Youth Law Center Launches Quality Parenting Initiative resource series “COVID 19: the New Normal”

This series of new resources is geared for birth, foster and kinship families as well as child welfare agency staff.

  • Tuesday, March 31st: The Power of Connection: How Resource Families Can Support Adolescents Through COVID-19 Crisis (materials available here)

  • Week of April 5th (a two-part series!): Child development specialist on using media effectively with children and virtual visitation.

  • Week of April 12th: Keeping teens connected to friends and family using tech.

  • Week of April 19th: Ensuring youth who receive special education obtain services and maintain educational progress.

  • Week of April 26th: Keeping older youth on track for college including SAT, college applications, coursework issues.

  • Week of May 3rd: Coordinating with Qualified Legal Services Provider (QSLP) on employment issues and unemployment insurance.

  • Week of May 10th: Supporting young children and their families.

  • Week of May 17th: Maintaining relationships between children and families over distance

For up-to-date information on this series of resources, click here.

The Coronavirus Could Cause a Child Abuse Epidemic

April 7, 2020

New York Times editorial by Dr. Nina Agrawal, a child abuse pediatrician

As part of virtual visits, child health providers should routinely ask families how they are doing and offer help. Just as fever is a warning sign of infection, physicians must recognize the warning signs of abuse.As doctors, we can share information on parent support, domestic violence, suicide hotlines with those who we think might be at risk and make sure to follow up by phone to see whether parents have questions. The American Academy of Pediatrics offers guidance to pediatricians on identifying, diagnosing and treating abusive head trauma and a tip sheet for parents dealing with the stresses of the coronavirus crisis.

Read editorial here.

State concerned about fewer child-abuse calls (Montana)

April 7, 2020

A sharp decrease in the number of calls to Montana’s child abuse and neglect hotline has officials with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services very concerned. Prior to the closure, the hotline was receiving about 765 calls per week. But since March 15, when the closure order went into effect, the number of calls made to the hotline has dropped to an average of 425 calls per week, according to the press release.

Full article here.

Why surge in foster care placement will follow COVID-19 pandemic (Georgia)

April 07, 2020

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Although it’s difficult to predict, Reed told me it is very likely her department will see an increase in reports as children resume face-to-face contact with their teachers, day care providers, physicians, therapists and others. “Traditionally, DFCS has consistently seen a spike in reports when children return to school, so we anticipate that trend will continue in the late summer and early fall,” she said.

Full article here.

Family Is A Compelling Reason

April 7, 2020

Opinion column in the Chronicle of Social Change by Jerry Milner and David Kelly of the Children’s Bureau

We have to commit to doing all within our power to protect parent-child relationships during separations, and to continue to work as diligently as we possibly can to achieve reunification for those families who are not yet together.

We cannot hit pause. We cannot allow a hiatus.

Read the full column here.

Children more at risk for abuse and neglect amid coronavirus pandemic, experts say

March 21, 2020

USA Today

Hundreds of thousands of vulnerable U.S. children could face a heightened risk of abuse and neglect as coronavirus-related school closures keep them at home and away from the nation’s biggest group of hotline tipsters: educators. Teachers, administrators, school counselors and other educational professionals report one in every five child mistreatment claims in the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Article here.

California HHS/Department of Social Services Guidance on COVID-19

April 17, 2020, This All County Letter (20-45) provides guidance regarding the Extended Foster Care program for nonminor dependents (NMDs) during the current state of emergency related to COVID-19 and pursuant to the authority in the Governor’s April 17, 2020 Executive Order N-53-20 (EO N-53-20).

April 3, 2020, This Provider Information Notice (20-04-CRP) provides general recommendations for prevention, containment, and mitigation of COVID-19 in licensed children’s residential facilities, licensed foster family homes, and homes certified or approved by a foster family agency (FFA). In addition, this PIN includes statewide waivers for certain licensing requirements applicable to these children’s residential settings, administrators, and administrator certification program training vendors without the need for providers to make an individual request, and subject to the waiver terms and conditions set forth in this PIN.

April 2, 2020, This Provider Information Notice (20-06-CRP) incorporates guidance from ACL 20-25 that provided updated information to county child welfare social workers and juvenile probation officers regarding the provision of services to children and families during the evolving COVID19 situation. This PIN provides recommendations and best practices related to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) for licensed children’s residential facilities, licensed foster family homes, and homes certified or approved by a foster family agency

March 30, 2020 This All County Letter provides placement preservation and emergency planning guidance to county and tribal child welfare agencies, probation departments, and children’s residential programs and service providers regarding the care of children, nonminor dependents, and families who are exposed to, present symptoms of, or test positive for, the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) during this state of emergency. Letter here.

March 30, 2020 This All County Letter provides county child welfare social workers and juvenile probation officers updated instructions regarding documenting of contacts completed with children and families through videoconferencing during the declared Coronavirus (COVID-19) State of Emergency.

March 28, 2020 This All County Letter provides requirements and interim guidance for social workers and juvenile probation officers regarding investigations of child abuse and neglect during the declared California State of Emergency due to the outbreak of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

March 21, 2020 This All County Letter will provide updated requirements and guidance for county child welfare social workers and juvenile probation officers regarding the provision of services to children and families during the evolving situation related to the Coronavirus (COVID19).

Why child welfare experts fear a spike of abuse during COVID-19

PBS

Child welfare experts are most concerned about three conditions happening right now.

Routines are being disrupted. With businesses, schools and daycares shuttered, parents and children are in each other’s constant company, sometimes in close quarters. That may be welcome time spent together, but it can also be incredibly stressful when coupled with the demands of work, bills and other anxieties. Children, too, may act out when they are under stress.

Jobs have evaporated. By March 28, 6.6 million Americans had filed first-time jobless claims in a single week. Before that, nearly a fifth of Americans said they’d lost wages or jobs due to COVID-19, in a PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll conducted March 13-14. That means more households are straining under the weight of debt and economic insecurity.

Children are isolated from others who care. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the act of going to school and being seen by teachers, staff and fellow students stretched a modest net to help catch children who might be mistreated. Before, someone outside the home might spot a bruise and ask how things were going. Amid social distancing, that oversight is gone.

“These are all conditions that set up what might lead to child abuse and neglect,” said Sege, who served on the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect.

Full story here.

Advocacy Groups Launch #UpChafee Campaign To Urge Congress to Take Action for Youth in Foster Care

April 3, 2020

Advocates and young people urge Congress to ensure young people transitioning to adulthood in foster care are able to survive the hardships caused by the crisis by increasing funding for transition-age youth programs and services in the next stimulus bill and providing flexibility in the supports available to these youth such as extended foster care.

Press release here.

FosterClub webinar on #UpChafee here.

Children’s Bureau Letter on Housing Support When Universities, Colleges Close Due to COVID-19

March 12, 2020

The Children’s Bureau encourages child welfare agencies to be attentive to youth and young adults affected by the circumstances. Youth may require assistance not only with housing, but also accessing food, health care, and emotional support. The CB urges child welfare agencies to act with a sense of urgency to reach out to and support youth/ young adults at this moment.

Letter here.

A Joint Statement on Child Welfare Courts During a Public Health Crisis

March 31

Issued by Children’s Advocacy Institute, Children’s Rights, Juvenile Law Center, National Association of Counsel for Children, National Center for Youth Law, Youth Law Center,

This letter titled, “Access to Justice and Advocacy are Critical Anchors During Uncertain Times,” offers recommendations on assessing and safeguarding the needs and rights of every young person and family member experiencing dependency court involvement.

Letter here.

National, State, Local Sign-on Letter to Congress Asking for Emergency Investments in Child Welfare

A group of national, state, and local organizations dedicated to the well-being of vulnerable children and families has written a Letter to Congress to urge immediate Congressional action in support of families involved in child welfare, and the organizations that serve them, as they manage the stress and disruptions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.  Organizations are invited to join in signing the letter (Sign on here).  

The letter highlights the need the following investments:

  • Increase funding to CAPTA Title II Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CB-CAP) grants by $1 billion to quickly deploy resources directly to locally-driven prevention services and programs.
  • Increase funding to Title IV-B, Part 2, the MaryLee Allen Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program (PSSF) by $1 billion
  • Ensure the FMAP rate increase is provided to the new Title IV-E Prevention Program.
  • Increase funding to kinship navigator programs by $20 million to ensure access to information and resources for older relative caregivers at acute risk of COVID-19, such as food, health and safety supplies, and other necessities.
  • Increase funding to CAPTA Title I by $500 million to ensure state and local child protection systems can adapt to these new circumstances while continuing to respond quickly to the reports of child abuse and address barriers to ordinary service delivery during the pandemic.
  • Increase funding to the Court Improvement Program (CIP) by $30 million to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the functioning of child welfare courts.
  • Increase funding to Title IV-E Chafee funds by $500 million to allow states additional funding to support older youth in care and transitioning out of care.

Further, we support the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) Coalition request to increase funding to the Social Services Block Grant by several billion dollars to help states provide critical services and supports tailored to the needs of their community, including child protective services, child abuse prevention services, and foster care. These funds can fill in gaps not covered elsewhere and backfill many human services, given the flexibility of SSBG. This should also include a set-aside for Tribes, which does not currently exist

To read the letter or to sign-on, please click here. 

Children’s Bureau Information Memorandum on ACF grant flexibilities

The Administration for Children and Families released an Information Memorandum (IM-ACF-OA-2020-01) dealing with grant flexibilities in conducting human service activities related to or affected by COVID-19. The guidance provides short-term relief for administrative, financial management, and audit requirements for ACF applicants and grantees/recipients who are conducting human services activities related to or affected by COVID-19.

Information memorandum here.

Letter to Illinois Governor and DCFS Director from Foster Care Alumni Association-IL Chapter

The FCAA-IL requests an amendment to Executive Order in Response to COVID-19 to include additional responses to provide assistance to youth who are in or aging out of foster care.

Read the full letter here.

An update from an Illinois advocate on April 4:

  • DCFS agreed to expand services until June for young people who aged out of care recently and those who will be aging out of care during the COVID crisis.
  • Rules will change to permit former youth in care who are older than 21 to continue living in the same place until June.
  • DCFS will waive requirements for former youth in care to qualify for some housing assistance programs, like FUP.
  • Former youth in care can qualify for “emancipation funds” without completing a required financial literacy course. Instead, DCFS says they will help youth get info in less formal ways (like talking with youth about financial plans).
  • DCFS did not agree to the letter’s request to automatically grant requests for assistance from youth between the ages of 18 and 21, regardless of whether those requests that regularly require court order or not. DCFS’ response was that they’d “work collaboratively with the courts to facilitate automatic eligibility for youth between ages 18 and 21 during the crisis.”

Executive order here.

Executive order here.

California advocates: Letter to Governor Newsom and State Legislative Leaders on COVID-19 response

On behalf of the over 60,000 children and youth in California’s foster care system, leading advocates in California make these recommendations:

Recommendation #1: Provide emergency financial relief to caregivers and youth impacted by COVID-19.

Recommendation #2: Ensure stability of foster care placements

Recommendation #3: Immediately remove obstacles to distance learning, telehealth, visitation, and permanency

Recommendation #4: Include the needs of marginalized and disconnected youth in California’s COVID-19 response

See full letter here.

Foster kids who can’t visit parents are struggling under coronavirus isolation, advocates

NBC News

April 2, 2020

For parents working through the process of being reunited with their children in foster care, it’s not just about not seeing their children in person. Many family courts are limiting their work to emergency removals of children and not hearing reunification cases,as in the state of New York, which can be devastating to parents, advocates say.

Article here.

Children’s Bureau Letter to Child Welfare Legal and Judicial Leaders

March 27, 2020 The Children’s Bureau (CB) addresses questions and concerns regarding a number of child welfare issues in light of the COVID-19 public health emergency, including whether the Children’s Bureau can waive statutorily required judicial proceedings. In this letter, the Children’s Bureau urges attorneys, courts, Court Improvement Programs, and administrative offices of the courts to work together to ensure that requisite judicial proceedings continue during the COVID-19 pandemic. It states that the Children’s Bureau expects that courts and states will work together to determine how best to balance child-safety related statutory requirements against public-health mandates. As situations require, courts can and should use flexible means of convening required hearings.

Letter here

Kids in foster care? Coronavirus prompts courts to halt family visits, dealing harsh blow

March 31, 2020

USA Today

Biological parents battling to regain custody of children in foster care could lose crucial bonding time and see reunification stymied as dependency courts nationwide cancel hearings and suspend face-to-face family visits over coronavirus concerns. …

The visitation suspensions — issued in counties across Texas, Florida, Nebraska and Maine, among others — are temporary. Some courts stipulate that in-person visits may continue if all parties agree to proceed.

Link here.

Child Welfare Limbo: Covid-19 Puts Family Reunifications On ‘Indefinite’ Hold

March 30, 2020

The Center for New York City Affairs at the New School

In response to the spreading coronavirus, the City’s Family Courts have closed their buildings and dramatically reduced their caseloads. Judges are now holding hearings by phone and video, only on “essential/emergency” matters, according to a statement from the New York State Office of Court Administration, which did not respond to request for further comment for this story.

Link here.