Children in foster care must go to school in person, Department of Child Safety says

Arizona Republic, July 29, 2020

“The Arizona Department of Child Safety has advised foster parents and relatives who care for kids in DCS custody that the children should attend school in person, whenever schools reopen.”

Suzanne Cordiero, a foster parent, said the people actually caring for the child in their homes should determine what’s the best school option. A blanket order — even with some exceptions, which DCS says it will consider — signals that foster kids aren’t the same as other kids, she said.

Full article here.

Foster parent speaks out after contracting COVID-19 following a DSS family visit

July 7th, 2020

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Tesa Conerly, a foster parent, is speaking out after she says her foster children got sick following a family visit.

She was hospitalized for a week as a result of COVID-19. She says her young foster children were accompanied by a case worker with the South Carolina Department of Social Services when they were visiting their biological family.

Full article here.

Here’s how foster care is helping Florida’s children through coronavirus

May 26th, 2020

Nothing has reinforced this concept more than seeing firsthand the impact the coronavirus is having on the more than 50,000 Florida children, youth and families receiving services from Florida’s child welfare system. Over the last few months, our community of care has been presented with new and unpredictable challenges. The result has been a collective community response to finding innovative ways to ensure children remain safe and don’t experience further trauma as a result of the new disruptions in everyone’s daily lives.

Read the story here.

Coronavirus pandemic increasing need for foster parents

May 26th, 2020

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The coronavirus pandemic has created an uncertain environment for foster care parents and children. Due to the risk of COVID-19, fewer foster parents are willing to take kids in fear for they have the virus. 

“I just would strongly encourage anyone who has ever had the thought of fostering, now is the time to take some action. It can really make a difference in the lives of kids,” said Albany County Legislator Jeff Perlee.

Read the story here.

Letter to Congress from state-based foster and kinship family organizations

Nearly forty state-based networks of foster and kinship families write to Congress to highlight the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on these families and the children they are caring for. We hope Congress will consider this input as it continues to work on responding to the heavy toll of the COVID pandemic. Key points they share:

• Children and families involved in child welfare and the professionals who support them need access to rapid testing along with other first responders.
• Foster Families and kinship caregivers need economic security so they are able to continue their caregiving.
• Families and children need timely access to physical and mental health care for children and youth in foster care and those who leave foster care to reunification, adoption and guardianship.
• Foster, adoptive, and kinship family recruitment, training and licensing should be a national priority today and in the future.
• Families and workers need technology tools, including cell phones, laptops, and internet access.
• Children who have special needs require extra support with home schooling.
• Foster families, adoptive, and kinship caregivers need peer support.

Read the full letter here.

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice Urges Congress to Provide Emergency Child Welfare Funding

May 8, 2020. In this letter, Gov. Justice urges Congress to provide emergency funding for the following programs:

  • $1 billion for Community-based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) Grants
  • $20 million in Kinship Navigator Programs
  • $1 billion for Title IV-B Part 2
  • $500 million for CAPTA Title 1
  • $30 million for the Court Improvement Program
  • Increase FMAP for Title IV-E Prevention Program
  • Increase funding to Title IV-E Chafee by $500 million
  • Provide $100 million in one-time emergency support for the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program.

Read full letter 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.” 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.

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.

El Paso foster families make adjustments to care for kids during pandemic


April 15, 2020

Right now, Child Protective Services is working with us to figure out how we can provide orientation practices for families who are looking to become foster families. We’re continuing with the families that were already in the process in order to get all of their licensing measures met,” said Joy Petty, the foster care programs director at the El Paso Center for Children.

Petty says they are in need of personal protective equipment, including some essentials like hand sanitizer and disinfectant for the kids and families.

Article here.

Foster families’ needs intensified during COVID crisis

Under stay-at-home orders, foster families across Oregon are experiencing new struggles. Some can’t leave home, have a loss of income or a loss of childcare. The networks that usually fill those needs — such as schools, government agencies and nonprofits — are also under new strain due to the pandemic.

Every Child, an initiative of the nonprofit organization The Contingent, serves kids in foster care in 23 counties across Oregon, through a partnership with the Oregon Department of Human Services.

Article here.

In Colorado, Protecting Children During Isolation Orders

Rocky Mountain PBS

Child welfare staff members are required to meet with families in person when they open an investigation after receiving referrals that indicate children may be at risk. Those requirements have not loosened in the era of social distancing.

DHS officials say calls to the child abuse hotline fell while Denver Public Schools students were on an extended spring break for three weeks in response to coronavirus. The department said it received 1,246 calls in the first 15 days of March but only 794 calls in the final half of the month.

New story here.

Adoption and foster programs face new challenges amidst COVID-19 (MD & DE)

47 ABC

April 13, 2020

A Delaware foster and adoption agency says it’s facing quite a few challenges during this pandemic. They say screenings are more difficult and families who were planning to be reunited are having to wait. They’re also predicting an increase in the need for their services in the near future.

“I think we may expect to see numbers in foster care increase after this is over,” says Laura Storck, the foster care statewide supervisor for Children & Families First. “We have schools that are out. We have daycares that are closed. We have kids that aren’t frequenting hospitals or doctors offices as much, not seeing counselors as often or in a different way.”

Meanwhile, a Maryland organization says 27 foster youth age out of the system every month and this pandemic may make that process even more challenging for them

Advocates for Children and Youth says those who age out of the system during this time may be at more of a risk for homelessness and unemployment because of the current economic situation. The state made a policy change to allow foster youth who are turning 21 during this pandemic to stay in the system until June. But some advocates say that’s still not enough and they’re pushing for a longer extension.

“We are asking for at least a year that youth are able to remain in care after their 21st birthday to ensure that the economy is ready for an influx of youth the enter and that they won’t be set up for failure,” says Rachel White, the child welfare policy director at Advocates For Children and Youth (ACY).

Full article here.

Coronavirus adds new stressors on Alaska’s vulnerable youths and young adults

Benjamin Miller’s life was rocky but mostly on track. The 20-year-old University of Alaska Anchorage student is one of 3,144 Alaska youths in foster care.

Miller went to Washington for spring break. When he got back, the anthropology student said he scrambled to move out of his dorm in one day because of the coronavirus pandemic. The room held his every possession.

Link here

Arkansas foster numbers rise as pandemic closes court hearings

Children in foster care have supervised and, when appropriate, unsupervised visitations with their biological families while living with their foster parents. DCFS has encouraged more teleconferenced visitations during the pandemic to reduce the chances of exposure to everyone concerned. However, there are cases where a home visit is more appropriate, such as one mother who needs to bond with her newborn.

The pandemic has added to the challenges of being a foster parent as some of the supports, including schools and child care facilities, are not available. DCFS provided a one-time $125 per-child increase in the April payment for foster parents to help with additional expenses and is exploring another increase. Foster parents would be paid an additional $500 per month if the federal government approves a requested Medicaid waiver by Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s administration

Full article here.

How The Coronavirus Is Affecting The Foster Care System And Its Children (North Carolina)

April 4, 2020

WFAE, Charlotte’s NPR News Source

Visitations with their birth parents have been suspended and permanent placements are being delayed. Kim Ford is the foster care supervisor for Bethany Christian Services which provides adoption and foster care services. She and others predict that more children will have a need for foster care as parents struggle to cope with lost jobs and stress because of COVID-19.

Ford, “The number is expected to grow as the stress level rises for families that are trying to stay intact. And so we’re going to see more children coming into care, especially with mental health issues, job situations, unemployment. So that is definitely a need that we’re going to see spiking.”

Story here.

‘We need heroes right now’: Pleas for foster families amid coronavirus (Ohio)

April 4, 2020

Columbus Dispatch

According to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Ohio had more than 16,600 children in out-of-home care earlier this week. Of the state’s 7,880 licensed foster homes, about 4,440 had children placed in them.

To keep foster-parent recruiting efforts moving, the organization is conducting training classes online and in video format. “These individuals are natural helpers,” Jones said. “I don’t see them going away. But we have to do everything we can to support them.”

Read the full article here.

Oklahoma Human Services Issues Emergency Relief Payments to Foster Families

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) will begin issuing emergency relief payments to foster parents in early April. These payments, which will be paid monthly, per child, are meant to support foster families as they navigate the impact of unexpected expenses of caring for children full-time due to school closures.

“During this incredibly difficult and historic time, we are intentionally focusing on the families and children we serve and how to best support them,” said Director of Child Welfare Services, Dr. Deborah Shropshire.

Media release 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.