Foster Care’s New Reality: COVID-19 creates new challenges for kids, families

July 8th, 2020

Foster children face a number of obstacles during normal times, but this pandemic has stacked even more odds against them and their caregivers. The virus has impacted weekly supervised visits, developmental therapy, court cases pending, even adoptions.Resource parents help our county’s most vulnerable children. They play a critical role in helping build a bridge, providing a safe, supportive home for children who are unable to live with their birth parents due to neglect or substance abuse. 

Full article here.

Coronavirus’s Arrival in California Juvenile Lockup Sparks Concern

July 6th, 2020

As the coronavirus has torn through California’s incarcerated population, nine young people locked up in one of the state’s youth prisons have tested positive for it – a worrisome sign for the Division of Juvenile Justice that has so far avoided the mass outbreaks of the adult prisons. The state agency reports three infections were identified last month at the N.A. Chaderjian Youth Correctional Facility in Stockton, with six more coming over the weekend. At least one of the positive tests came as a result of a young person transferred to the prison during the pandemic.

Full article here.

Adoptions delayed for months by coronavirus closings to get their day in court

Tribune Content Agency – June 29, 2020

Foster families whose adoption plans got derailed by court closures prompted by the coronavirus crisis are set to receive some relief, with the judicial system no longer requiring in-person hearings. That means families whose hearings were delayed in some cases until 2021 may see their adoptions become legal in the next month or two.

Full article here.

New COVID-19 Outbreak At One Of California’s Youth Prisons—As Counties Resume Sending Kids Into The State’s Long-Broken System

June 25th, 2020

Since LA County sends more kids to DJJ than any other county, given all the other chronic problems that make the state’s youth facilities an unhealthy, non-rehabilitative or healing environment for any kid (as WLA and our writers have repeatedly reported), this is one more on a long list of reasons to turn the spigot off at our end — now not later.

Full article here.

Home Visitors Left to Check on Parents from Afar

June 15th, 2020

For the time being, the COVID-19 pandemic has halted all of Middlebrook’s walks into people’s homes. A source of support for families who might otherwise have little, home visitors have had to keep their distance from vulnerable new parents — physically, anyway. The pandemic, however, has forced these visits to go virtual, a turn of events Middlebrook describes as “a very unique situation.”

Full article here.

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

California 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.

Alliance for Children’s Rights
Association of Community Human Service Agencies
California Alliance of Child and Family Services
California CASA Association
California Chapter 1, American Academy of Pediatrics
California Family Resource Association
California Federation of Family Child Care Associations
Cardenas Group
Central American Resource Center –CARECEN SF
Child Abuse Prevention Center
Children Now
Children’s Bureau of Southern California
Children’s Defense Fund – California
Children’s Law Center of California
Compass Family Services
Courage to Change, Inc.
Edgewood Center for Children and Families
Family Connections Centers
Foster Care Counts
Homeless Prenatal Program
John Burton Advocates for Youth
Legal Services for Children
North Star Family Center
Phenomenal Families
Prevent Child Abuse California
Public Counsel
Safe & Sound
San Mateo County Private Defender Program
Seneca Family of Agencies
Side by Side
Stanford Sierra Youth & Families
Tarzana Treatment Centers Inc.
The Children’s Partnership
The San Francisco Family Resource Center Alliance
YMCA of San Diego County, Youth and Family Services

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.

Newsom Announces Aid for Foster Care Youth Affected by COVID-19

April 13, 2020


California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday that the state plans to allocate $42 million — including $1.6 million from the federal government — to address the needs of young people in foster care and others living in low-income families.

“Bottom line is we have less social worker visits, we have less child welfare referrals because kids are not at school and because people are practicing physical distancing. And that means we still have to find creative ways to safeguard the well-being of our children,” Newsom told KQED.

Link here

California to spend extra $42 million to help foster youth during pandemic

Governor Newsom is making more than $27 million available to help families stay together, nearly $7 million to support social workers and $3 million to support Family Resource Centers.

These new investments, totaling $42 million ($40.6 million in state general fund and $1.4 million in federal funds) over the next three months will support foster youth and reduce child abuse. These investments include:

Supporting Families Struggling to Stay Together – $27,842,000
This funding will provide a $200 per month supplement to families in the Emergency Response and Family Maintenance programs and who need additional support to be able to stay together.

Additional Social Worker Outreach – $6,896,552
Support for social worker overtime and additional outreach by county social workers to foster family caregivers at higher risk of COVID-19 (e.g. caregivers who are over 60 years old). Social workers will engage these caregivers to identify specific needs or concerns.

Family Resource Centers – $3,000,000
Family Resource Centers play a critical role in preventing child abuse and neglect, strengthening children and families, and connecting families to an array of county support systems of care. This funding will provide direct support and services to foster families, including material items, assistance with isolation needs, parenting resources, and staff time to help link families to other state and federal supports (e.g. food, housing, etc.).

Expansion of Helplines – $250,000
Funds will assist 2-1-1 and Parents Anonymous to offer immediate assistance to families in crisis who are seeking assistance. Parents Anonymous will provide expanded hours of services, link parents to online support groups and will make referrals to county and local services and Family Resource Centers as needed.

Age Extension for Foster Youth – $1,846,165
Approximately 200 young adults age out of the foster care system every month. Too many of them are at risk of homelessness and food insecurity. During this crisis, foster care payments and eligibility will be extended to help them maintain their living arrangements and to provide food security.

Additional Support for Resource Families Impacted by COVID-19 – $1,728,655
Families impacted by COVID-19 can receive higher monthly reimbursement rates to cover the extra costs associated with supporting children with more complex needs. Flexibility for counties to use these reimbursement rates will make sure that foster children can stay in their homes and not be moved into shelters or other facilities.

Extended Timeframe for Caregiver Approvals – $166,000
Funding will allow caregivers to continue to be paid beyond 365 days while awaiting Resource Family Approval. The extension in funding is required due to delays in caregiver approvals and caseworker diversion to emergency work.

Access to Technology – $313,128
iFoster will give more foster youth access to cell phones and laptops so they can stay connected with their families and communities, and continue to participate in educational opportunities during this crisis. This will allow the purchase of 2,000 laptops and 500 cell phones and will provide for short-term staffing assistance to iFoster to help process the applications and get phones configured and shipped to foster youth quickly.

Announcement 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).

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.