Social workers, child-welfare fight for child safety & family support during COVID-19 (Iowa)

The Daily Iowan

April 13, 2020

Social workers, family needs, and foster care are among the essential services that have not been put on pause amid the novel-coronavirus pandemic. In Iowa, while some non-urgent matters can be done via conference calls, new child abuse or family crisis cases must be conducted in person, and are complicated by K-12 schools being closed for the month.

“We have been impacted on basically every front in terms of the work we do,” said Janee Harvey, division administrator of adult, children, and family services at the Iowa Department of Human Services.

Amid the pandemic, both the Iowa Supreme Court and Department of Human Services have made it clear that family reunification comes first and foremost, D’Aunno said, and parent-child visits remain a priority.

“We can’t let up, because if we don’t maintain visits those families are at risk of never getting back together,” D’Aunno said.

Full article here.

Many thanks to child welfare workers in these difficult times (Maryland)

Baltimore Sun

April 10, 2020

By Judith Schagrin, legislative chairperson for the Maryland Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers

We give a round of applause to child welfare caseworkers, those front line responders whose work frequently flies under the radar. These public servants serve our most vulnerable citizens, children at risk of maltreatment or in state custody. Despite the current crisis, child welfare caseworkers continue to be on the front lines. Child welfare never stops because child abuse never stops.

Child welfare caseworkers are in communities assessing children’s safety and offering support to families in this difficult time, some equipped only with coronavirus guidance, their phones and, most of all, their sense of mission. Despite risk to themselves and their own families, they continue working even without the recommended protective gear to be safe. Others scramble to maintain contact with children in foster care and their parents via videoconferencing — sometimes with outdated equipment. These caseworkers are also tasked with the myriad of responsibilities that didn’t end when the pandemic began.

Full opinion piece 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.

APHSA Letter to Congress on COVID

April 10, 2020

Based on feedback from our members across the nation, this letter identifies the most urgent legislative tools needed to support human services agencies during the COVID-19 pandemic and its immediate aftermath including investment in the infrastructure needed to create economic opportunity, keeping children safe and mitigating the trauma families are experiencing, ensuring access to basic nutritional supports, and reinforcing the ability of our child care system to provide quality care to families impacted by the pandemic.

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.