Staff, Agencies & Courts
Immediate challenges due to COVID-19 pandemic:
- Social workers are at the frontlines in helping ensure children’s safety in times of family crisis. Their jobs have gotten vastly harder. Workers who investigate suspected child maltreatment must visit the child’s home. These, and other workers, face barriers to conducting safety investigations and other in-person visits.
- Many staff are now working remotely and rely on information technology tools to conduct their work. However, with shelter-in-place and other similar public health protocols, agencies need new tools and training to continue conducting child abuse and neglect investigations as well as serving children and families already involved in foster care systems.
- Case workers may be working from home without access to computer systems or paper files, or even their work phones to monitor calls.
- Staff who investigate possible cases of abuse or neglect may enter homes that have individuals infected with COVID-19 or may themselves have COVID-19 and unwittingly be transmitting it across homes as they conduct their in-home visits. They lack Personal Protective Equipment or any protocols for how to conduct their work in an infectious disease environment
- Court closures and hearing delays can disrupt plans for families to reunify as well as other permanency plans.
- Courts across the country, that provide critical oversight and accountability for the safety of children, have either closed or have significantly delayed family court hearings, delaying decisions on children’s placements about whether to return home or seek other permanent living arrangements.
- Increase funding to CAPTA Title I by $500 million to ensue state and local child protection agencies can adapt to the new circumstances while continuing to respond quickly to reports of child abuse an neglect. Child protection workers have urgent new needs for greater information technology tools and training, personal protective equipment to be safe from contagion, and other training and support.
- Increase funding to the Court Improvement Program (CIP) by $30 million to mitigate disruptions due to court closures and hearing delays caused by the pandemic. These challenges pose risks to children experiencing delays in reunifying with their families or finalizing other permanency plans, among other safety. CIP is the only dedicated federal funding to courts for child welfare purposes.