While our country faces a very uncertain time, we want you to know that we’re still here, still working, and still wholly committed to supporting the children, youth, and families who need us the most. And we know you are, too.

Together, let’s remember to take care of the most vulnerable members of our community during this time and safely support each other whenever and wherever possible. We’re sharing a list of resources and information below that might be useful for Los Angeles-based foster care youth and families impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. And while much is still coming into focus, we anticipate our client community calling upon us to advocate for and help them as they navigate the difficult challenges that come with this unprecedented time. We rely on your sustained support to continue this work.

COVID-19 Resources for Our Community

List below is updated daily.

Many young adults in foster care face food insecurity and rely on their campus’ dining halls for affordable food. Additionally, other quarantines, workplace closures, and job losses, will cause many clients—children included—in our community to miss meals. If you are able to, consider supporting your local food bank, and bolster up resources that serve a large community of individuals who need assistance during this time.

If you or someone you know needs food assistance:

Visit a Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. Not in Los Angeles? Find a nearby food bank through auntbertha.com.

CHIRPLA Food Bank Guide

CalFresh

  • Enroll for CalFresh online.
  • The state of California has authorized an emergency CalFresh benefit allotment for eligible households. Emergency CalFresh benefits for March will be issued on Sunday, April 12 and for April on Sunday, May 10.
  • All CalFresh households will receive extra benefits to increase to the maximum allotment for their household size, for March and April benefits. These extra benefits will be issued on April 12 and May 10. Fact Sheet | Flyer

Pandemic EBT (P-EBT)

  • Families with children eligible for free or reduced-priced meals whose school facilities are closed will be eligible to receive P-EBT benefits. P-EBT benefits will be issued on EBT cards and can be used to buy groceries, just like CalFresh food benefits.
  • Families will get up to $365 per eligible child on their P-EBT card to use on food and groceries. Families with children who get CalFresh, Medi-Cal or Foster Care benefits do not need to apply. Most will get their P-EBT card in the mail during the month of May. P-EBT cards will begin arriving in May, 2020.
  • Families with children who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals and who do not get their P-EBT card in the mail, must apply online before June 30, 2020. The online application will launch in late May. More information here.
  • Fact Sheet: Pandemic-EBT Info for Children & Families Served by Child Welfare Services

California WIC

  • Many WIC offices are not providing face-to-face services and instead are providing remote services to families through outreach by phone, text and email. People who have been economically affected by the COVID-19 crisis and are pregnant, postpartum or have a child under five years old can apply for WIC services by texting APPLY to 91997, calling WIC at 888-942-2229, or visiting phfewic.org/apply.
  • As of April 14, 2020, WIC has temporarily expanded food choices.
  • As of April 28, 2020 you can use your EBT card to make purchases online. Individuals and families can purchase groceries online using their EBT card at Amazon and Walmart. If you receive CalWORKs, you may also be able to use your cash benefits to make purchases online at Wal-Mart.

LAist put together a map of school sites and community centers offering free meal pick-ups for children.

Everytable is offering meals to all Angelenos in need, including food distribution for seniors who need food brought to their homes.

Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) list of Food and Grocery Programs by Service Planning Area.

For students:

The Dream Center is providing free meals to LAUSD students, 7:30am-6:30pm, Monday-Friday at 2301 Bellevue Ave.

LAUSD has opened up 60 Grab & Go Centers for students to pick up two meals per day between 7am-10am. Locations and more info here.

Compton Unified will be providing food services for students and any youth under the age of 18, Monday through Friday (Breakfast: 7:30-8:30am | Lunch 11am-1pm) at the following locations: Clinton Elementary; McNair Elementary; McKinley Elementary; Longfellow Elementary; Rosecrans Elementary; Jefferson Elementary; and Kelly Elementary.

Inglewood Unified will be providing food services for children and teens ages 2-19. They will be providing take-home meals Monday through Friday 9:30-11am at the following locations: Woodworth-Monroe School; Hudnall Elementary; Highland Elementary; Oak Street Elementary; Centinela Elementary

Hawthorne School District is providing free grab and go breakfast and lunch, Monday through Friday from 10-12pm until April 3rd at the following locations:Eucalyptus Elementary; Kornblum Elementary; Prairie Vista Middle School; Washington Elementary/Middle School | For more information, please contact Nutrition Services Department at (310) 263-3990

The Pasadena Unified School District will provide an opportunity for families to drive through and pick up meals for the children in their family at a number of school sites. Meals will be provided for all children 18 years old and younger starting Tuesday March 17, 2020 between 9 a.m. -11 a.m., Monday through Friday, in the parking lot or bus lane at each participating school. No meals will be provided during Spring Break (03/30/20-04/03/20). Schools Offering Meals: Eliot Middle School; Field Elementary; Madison Elementary; McKinley; Muir H.S.; Norma Coombs Elementary; Wilson Middle School

Across the state: Several K-12 school districts across California are offering free meals to students and their families including Butte, Coachella Valley, Fresno, Los Angeles County, Merced, Monterey County, Oakland, Riverside, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Shasta, Stockton, and Yuba City.

Alliance Charter Schools serving meals to their students at locations here.

TEACH Academy of Technologies is offering free meals for pick-up to all children ages 5-17, with a valid student ID from any school. Meals are provided between 9:30 a.m. and 12:00 p.m.

GENERAL

The City of Los Angeles, in partnership with the County of Los Angeles and CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort), is providing free COVID-19 testing to ALL Los Angeles County residents, whether or not you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Schedule a COVID-19 Test here.

The State of California has announced that all health insurance plans are required to provide no-cost care to members seeking coronavirus testing, screening, or treatment.

Because of COVID-19, you or someone you know may be newly eligible due to job loss and can apply for Medi-Cal online at coveredca.com.

New Presumptive Eligibility Program for Medi-Cal: The Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) as a new Medi-Cal program for people who are not Medi-Cal eligible (e.g. income too high) for COVID-19 testing & treatment.

For more information on how to keep your Medi-Cal during a pandemic: healthconsumer.org/covid19

Maternal and Child Health Access will assist individuals who have Medi-Cal but are experiencing issues accessing it. Call 213-749-4261 and receive a call back within 24-48 hours from a blocked number.

There are seven Medical Hub Clinics in Los Angeles County providing healthcare for children and youth in foster care.

Medication: CVS Pharmacy will waive charges for home delivery of prescription medications. Walgreens is waiving delivery fees for all eligible prescriptions during this evolving situation and any purchase on Walgreens.com.

Take extra steps to protect yourself and each other by taking precautions advised by the cdc.gov and alert youth and other members of our community to watch out for coronavirus treatment scams.

SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH

Planned Parenthood Los Angeles is continuing to serve patients’ reproductive health care needs at this difficult time. Planned Parenthood locations.

The Los Angeles Reproductive Health Equity Project for Foster Youth (LA RHEP) developed an information sheet about getting sexual and reproductive healthcare during COVID-19 outbreak.

Find a clinic through Teen Source Clinic Finder.

MENTAL HEALTH

The LA County Department of Mental Health (DMH) has confirmed that DMH will remain fully operational and open for business to their best of their ability. Clinics and drop-in centers will remain open to clients. Mobile units will continue to provide field services at this time, including Emergency Outreach and Triage Division’s 24/7 response, law enforcement mental health teams, and street engagement services for homeless, and crisis services for children and families in the child welfare system. Due to the public health crisis, however, there may be some delays in services.

If you or a child in your care are receiving or want to initiate mental health services through DMH, and you wish to receive services by telephone and/or telehealth instead of in-person, you may request telephonic/telehealth services from your treating provider. DMH providers are able to provide telehealth services through the use of video teleconferencing solution called HIPAABridge. HIPAABridge supports a free mobile application that families and youth can download on their telephone. It can also be used via computer browser allowing the families to participate in telehealth services. Telehealth services may include therapy, case management, crisis intervention, assessment, and medication services. If you request telephonic/telehealth services from your provider and you encounter any barriers, please contact the Alliance’s intake department at (213)368-6010.

NAMI is maintaining a mental health helpline to support those who are struggling with anxiety, depression, and stress due to the Coronavirus outbreak as well as sharing useful tips to cope during this time. Crisis Text Line is open 24/7; text NAMI to 741741.

California Youth Crisis Line: 1-800-843-5200 (call or text)

The Project Return “Peer Support Network” is offering over the phone, non-crisis emotional support services. Visit their page to access their support form.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Disaster Hotline: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746

_________

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS – HEALTHCARE

Am I still able to receive mental health services during this time?

  • The LA County Department of Mental Health has confirmed that during the COVID-19 crisis, DMH clinics and drop-in centers will remain open to clients. Mobile units will continue to provide field services at this time. However, if clients prefer to receive mental health services by telephone and/or telehealth, they may do so, including through the use of video teleconferencing solution called HIPAABridge. HIPAABridge supports a free mobile application that families and youth can download on their telephone It can also be used via computer browser allowing the families to participate in telehealth services. The youth or caregiver may request telephonic/telehealth services from the treating provider.

What should I do if I think my foster child has COVID-19?

  • If the foster child in your home shows signs of illness, keep them away from others and inform the child’s social worker to coordinate a consultation with a Medical Hub clinician.

My foster child is running out of his prescription medication and the current circumstances are preventing him from seeing his doctor on a timely basis. How can I make sure my child is receiving his prescription medication during this time?

  • It may be necessary to arrange for additional medication and/or telehealth appointments to bridge any gaps between appointments. Medi-Cal will allow up to a 100-day supply of medications to be dispensed at one time. This does not apply, however, to opiate medications. Caregivers should contact the doctor if the youth’s supply is running low to avoid an emergency. In some instances, early refill warnings can also be overridden at the point of sale, allowing patients to get their refill before the previous supply has run out, if medically necessary.
  • For more information: files.medi-cal.ca.gov/pubsdoco/newsroom/newsroom_30366.asp [ Source ]
RENTAL ASSISTANCE

New rental assistance is now available to renters living in certain unincorporated areas in LA county. The Emergency Rental Assistance Program can provide UP TO $1,000 towards monthly rent for up to 3 months. Eligible households must not exceed the household size and annual income listed here.

More information here

EVICTIONS

State-wide Order Regarding Evictions

On March 27, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom signed an Executive Order providing state-wide protection regarding evictions for renters affected by the coronavirus. This order bans the enforcement of eviction orders for renters affected by COVID-19 through May 31, 2020. A copy of the order can be found here. The order prohibits landlords from evicting tenants for nonpayment of rent and prohibits enforcement of evictions by law enforcement or courts.

To qualify for these protections, tenants must give notice to their landlord in writing, no more than seven days after the rent comes due, that the tenant cannot pay all or part of their rent due to COVID-19. The tenant would be required to retain documentation but not required to submit it to the landlord in advance. And the tenant would remain obligated to repay full rent in “a timely manner” and could still face eviction after the enforcement moratorium is lifted. The order takes effect immediately, and provides immediate relief to tenants for whom rent is due on April 1st.

Protections Regarding Evictions in Los Angeles

The city ordinance says landlords must not evict residential tenants who are unable to pay rent because of loss of income from work, childcare costs related to school closures, healthcare costs, or “reasonable expenditures” related to COVID-19.

The ordinance also halts evictions of renters who have “unauthorized occupants,” such as family members or pets, living with them because of COVID-19. It covers tenants facing eviction for “nuisance” reasons, like a loud child who’s in the apartment more now that schools are closed.

There are also protections against two more types of evictions, in addition to nonpayment of rent, including cases where tenants who have contracted COVID-19 are being evicted for reasons that are not their fault. “No-fault” evictions include instances where a landlord might want to tear down the building or take the unit for a family member.

Evictions under the California Ellis Act, which owners of rent-controlled buildings invoke when they want to demolish their buildings or remove them from the rental market, have also been halted now and are not allowed to resume until two months after the end of the “local emergency period” we’re in now because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The mayor also paused rent increases in rent-stabilized units across the city. The rent-stabilization ordinance covers to buildings built and occupied before October 1, 1978. Directions for finding out if this applies to your building are here.

The ordinance also buys you time to make up any missed rent payments, but does not absolve you from paying that rent. In Los Angeles, residential tenants have 12 months to repay their landlords for missed rent. Tenants can use the repayment period to repay their landlord all the back rent that’s owed, or they can arrange their own repayment plan with their landlord once the local emergency is over. Landlords are not allowed to charge late fees on repaid rent. The city law is valid for the duration of the local emergency, which is set to expire April 19, but could be extended as needed. Under the current rules, whenever the mayor lifts the local emergency, the 12-month countdown starts.

Los Angeles is also halting all commercial evictions for non-payment of rent if the non-payment stems from a COVID-19-related reason. Commercial tenants have three months to repay their rent.

If you live in LA county and are being evicted because you can’t pay rent due to COVID-19:

  1. Inner City Law Center: Potential new clients who are facing possible eviction at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse at 111 N. Hill Street should email evictions@innercitylaw.org. Inner City Law Center will make every effort to reply to your email within two business days. Current Inner City Law Center clients should dial the main line at (213) 891-2880, dial the extension of the attorney or paralegal who is helping you with your case, and leave a voice message.
  2. Shriver Project: Potential clients whose case is at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse can call (818)485-0576 or email ShriverSHpublic@nlsla.org (8:30am-12pm and 1-4pm Monday through Thursday; 8:30am-12pm Friday).
  3. Neighborhood Legal Services Los Angeles: Potential new clients should contact the Neighborhood Legal Services General Help Line at 1-800-433-6251. The help line is open between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Current Neighborhood Legal Services clients should contact the staff member who has been helping you.
STUDENTS

Some foster youth who live on-campus may have no home to go to when their college campuses close. If you are or know of a foster youth that is staying at a college dorm room that is going to be closed, please contact Together We Rise (info@togetherwerise.org) and they will provide or help find housing.

U-Haul is offering 30 days of free self-storage to help college students who are currently housing insecure.

If you are a student affected by COVID-19 and in need of emergency relief, contact the Student Relief Fund.

UTILITIES

Los Angeles County utilities are providing resources and relief to eligible residents. Please visit this web page for updates.

Public Works will NOT SHUT OFF OR STOP SERVICES for customers who are delinquent or behind in service or permit payments until this order is lifted. This includes water, sewer and trash pick up services.

Southern California Edison will suspend disconnections for non-payment and offers bill help to customers impacted by COVID-19. More information here.

LADWP will not disconnect water and power service during COVID-19 Emergency Response. More information here.

_________

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS – HOUSING

I am a foster youth who has recently been displaced from my university’s dormitory living arrangement due to public health concerns regarding COVID-19. What housing options are available for me?

  • Counties are required to support all NMDs, including those in dormitory housing that may be closed, and to ensure each youth, including NMDs, have access to a safe and suitable placement at all times. If a youth is displaced from their dorms, counties should continue the Supervised Independent Living Program (SILP) payment until such time that the NMD informs the county of the new or temporary residence. In addition, counties may waive SILP inspections in order to ensure that youth can get immediate access to housing.
  • Counties should proactively reach out to these youth to ensure they have the resources needed for transportation funds if they must temporarily move from campus, for alternate housing if dorms close, and to remain supported while they are out of school and to assist with ensuring that they are able to return to their campuses if they need to leave.
    [ Source 1 & Source 2 ]

What is available to help an individual or family who is facing housing instability due to the COVID-19 crisis?

  • On March 16, 2020, Governor Newsom issued Executive Order N-2820, which authorizes local governments to halt evictions for renters and homeowners, slows foreclosures related to evictions, and protects against utility shutoffs for Californians affected by COVID-19. While the order does not relieve a tenant from the obligation to pay rent or restrict a landlord’s ability to recover rent that is due, it encourages and authorizes local governments to enforce protections available through May 31, 2020, with the possibility that the date may be extended.
  • The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) released an All County Welfare Directors Letter to provide guidance on existing policy and flexibilities available to counties operating Housing and Homelessness Programs overseen by the CDSS, as well as recommendations for serving communities affected by the statewide outbreak of COVID-19.
  • County welfare departments are encouraged to review county policies and to create flexibility where allowable to respond to COVID-19. The letter provides guidance and flexibilities specific to the CalWORKs Homeless Assistance (HA) Program; Housing and Disability Advocacy Program (HDAP); Home Safe; CalWORKs Housing Support Program (HSP) and Bringing Families Home (BFH).
  • Questions may be directed to (916) 651-5155 or  housing@dss.ca.gov

SPECIAL EDUCATION

Questions and answers to providing services to children with disabilities have been shared by the Department of Education here. Special Education Guidance from the California Department of Education 


Requesting a distance learning IEP during COVID-19:
Download a Sample Request Letter: [ENGLISH] [SPANISH]

Track the special education services your child is provided during COVID-19 school closures. This will ensure you are ready to request compensatory services once schools reopen.

Free Trauma-Informed Education Trainings

Trauma significantly impacts students in foster care, and can drastically impact their learning. The COVID-19 pandemic is exposing an increasing number of students to trauma as they are forced to shelter in place, are isolated from their peers and extended family members, face housing and food insecurities, and their parents deal with unemployment. The Alliance offers free trauma informed education trainings for whole schools and district staff. Contact us to schedule a training for your district.

TECHNOLOGY & INTERNET ACCESS

iFoster is currently offering technology access to foster youth ages 13-24, which include: free, unlimited high-speed data hotspots, headsets, and laptops to assist in taking online classes.  For additional information on the resources that they have, call or email iFoster at: 1-855-936-7837 or phone@ifoster.org

INTERNET:

  • Internet For All Now: The California Emerging Technology Fund has provided access to affordable offers, as well as a number to call 1-844-841-INFO (4636) to assist parents.
  • Charter is offering free Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days to households with K-12 and/or college students who do not already have a Spectrum broadband subscription. To enroll: 1-844-488-8395. 
  • Comcast also announced it would offer two months of free internet services to low-income households in its service areas. 
  • AT&T is waiving internet data overage fees for customers who have capped data plans.
  • Verizon is waiving any late fees and not terminate any service for the next 60 days.
  • T-mobile announced current customers will have unlimited smartphone data, an additional 20GB of mobile hotspot / tethering service, and extra free data up to 5GB of data per month for the next 60 days.

If you are, or were previously, in foster care and need a laptop for remote learning, email One Simple Wish at info@onesimplewish.org

OPTIONS FOR STAYING CONNECTED ONLINE:

  • Facetime – Video Calling / Free / Available in Apple Store
  • Whatsapp – Video Calling, Messaging / Free / Available on computers, tablets, Android, and Apple
  • Snapchat – Video Calling, Messaging, Video Messaging / Free / Available in Android and Apple
  • Zoom – Group Video Conferencing / Free / Available on computers, tablets, Android and Apple
  • Google Hangouts – Video Calling, Messaging / Free / Available on computers, tablets, Android and Apple
  • Google Duo – Video Calling / Free / Available on Android and Apple
  • Skype – Video Calling, Messaging, Group Video Conferencing and Messaging / Free / Available on computers, tablets, Android and Apple
  • Facebook Messenger – Video Calling, Messaging / Free / Available on computers, tablets, Android and Apple
  • Free Conference Call – Voice Conference Calling / Free
  • Google Voice – Cloud-based Phone Number / Free for calls online within the US

COLLEGES

LEARNING AT HOME RESOURCES

TALKING ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS WITH KIDS


Frequently Asked Questions – Education

Will schools be offering breakfast and lunch for those students eligible for free and reduced price meals while they are shut down?

On March 13, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-26-20regarding the physical closure of schools by local educational agencies (LEAs) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The order provides, among other things, that even if schools close temporarily because of COVID-19, LEAs will continue to receive state funding for those days so that they can provide school meals in non-congregate settings through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and Seamless Summer Option (SSO), consistent with the requirements of the California Department of Education and U.S. Department of Agriculture. Schools or other community organizations that are approved to operate the SSO or SFSP can serve non-congregate meals during COVID-19 at school sites that are dismissed or closed by submitting a request to the California Department of Education.

To allow for social distancing, non-congregate meal systems can vary based on community need and it is recommended that meals be taken away from the site and consumed elsewhere. Examples include:

  • Distributing meals using a school food truck;
  • Sending a box or bag meal(s) home with students for multiple days;
  • Keeping some school sites open to allow students to receive a meal;
  • Partnering with local libraries that remain open to serve meals, or
  • Setting up a drive through system in the parking lot to minimize contact. Families can drive through and pick up a meal for all children in the vehicle. Please note, it is not permissible to provide meals to children who are not present.

In order to ensure that parents, guardians, and students are aware of the availability of meals, schools and community organizations should communicate in multiple languages the availability of meals as widely as possible.

Will lessons or other resources be available from school districts?

On March 13, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-26-20regarding the physical closure of schools by local educational agencies (LEAs) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The order provides, among other things, that even if schools close temporarily because of COVID-19, LEAs will continue to receive state funding for those days to, among other things, continue delivering high-quality educational opportunities to students to the extent feasible through, among other options, distance learning and/or independent study.

The California Department of Education (CDE) and Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) are required to jointly issue guidance that will address the following subjects relevant to students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) or Section 504 plans:

Implementing distance learning strategies and addressing equity and access issues that may arise due to differential access to internet connectivity and technology.

Ensuring students with disabilities receive a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) consistent with their IEP plan and meeting other procedural requirements pursuant to federal and state law.

LEAs are working to determine service delivery systems, taking into consideration the length of the closure, work restrictions on employees and contractors such as certified nonpublic schools and agencies, specific capabilities of the LEA, including technology capabilities for all distance learning, and anything else that can or cannot be implemented as specifically written in an IEP or Section 504 plan. 

Are there childcare options open?

Executive Order N-26-20 also provides that local education agencies (LEAs) receiving funding during a physical closure due to COVID-19 should, to the extent practicable, arrange for supervision for students during ordinary school hours. The California Department of Education (CDE) has issued the following guidance for parents and guardians whose current childcare facility is closed:

Contact the administrative office of your childcare program to learn whether the program has a list of pop-up programs in your local area.

Contact the resource and referral (R&R) statewide consumer education hotline at 1-800-KIDS-793 or go to the website for child care referrals.

Contact your Regional Community Care Licensing (CCL) office, which may have a list of facilities and/or providers that can serve children at this time. A listing of offices can be found here.

All County Letter from California Department of Social Services: Providing Optimal Child Welfare And Probation Services To Children And Families During Coronavirus (COVID-19) California State Of Emergency

Supplemental Security Income Recipients will Receive Automatic COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments:

Answers for most Economic Impact Payment questions are available on the automated message for people who call the phone number provided in the letter (Notice 1444). Those who need additional assistance at the conclusion of the message will have the option of talking to a telephone representative.

The IRS regularly posts new and updated answers to the most frequently asked questions about Economic Impact Payments and the Get My Payment tool. Those who wish to know the status of their Economic Impact Payment are reminded to check Get My Payment regularly; the information is frequently updated as the IRS continues to process the remaining payments for delivery. For those who are eligible for an Economic Impact Payment but aren’t required to file a tax return, the IRS reminds them the Non-Filers tool also remains available in English or Spanish for them to register for a payment.



Frequently Asked Questions: Child Welfare & Benefits

Do I need to attend my upcoming Dependency Court hearing?

Starting March 17, 2020, all Los Angeles County courtrooms, including Dependency Court, will be closed for three (3) days. The Los Angeles Superior Court will reopen on Friday, March 20, 2020, for the limited purpose of hearing or handing essential or emergency matters, in Criminal, Civil, Probate, Family Law and Dependency/Juvenile cases. Call your attorney if you have any questions. Visit lacourt.org for latest updates. [Source]

I am a foster youth and my caregiver is denying visits with my family due to COVID-19. What should I do? 

Despite the current public health situation, you still are entitled to your rights as a foster youth including access to medical care; right to contact family members, your county social worker, attorney, CASA or other advocate; and right to education and social contacts. Read more about Foster Youth Rights

Will a child in foster care still receive a monthly visit by a social worker? How are home visits changing in response to COVID-19?  

Section 422(b)(17) of the Social Security Act requires caseworkers to visit children in foster care on a monthly basis and, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, these visits were required to be held face-to-face.  In response to the pandemic, the Administration of Children and Families has revised the policy on face-to-face visits to allow for videoconferencing.  While it is imperative that caseworkers continue to ensure the well-being of children in care, ACF clarified that the imperative must be balanced against the health of caseworkers, children in care, and all of the people with whom they come into contact.  Thus, while there has been no change in the policy that every child must receive a monthly visit, those visits can now occur through online conference platforms like Skype, FaceTime or Zoom.  [Source: Child Welfare Policy Manual (CWPM), §7.3, question #8]

How should a caseworker determine if a monthly visitation with children/youth needs to occur in person or via videoconferencing?

In order to minimize the transmission of COVID-19, and given the State’s “stay at home” order, some face-to-face caseworker visits may not be possible at this time. Whether a monthly visit should occur in person is a child-specific decision that must be made based on the training and experience of the social worker and considering all available information. Counties should begin by assessing the individual needs of families and children. This assessment of need should start with a call to every family to ensure they have what they need to meet the needs of the children in their care. Factors to consider when determining if a face-to-face visit is necessary during this public health state of emergency include the following:

  • Is the child being visited by other professionals, tribal representatives and/or mandated reporters during this time period and the caseworker can receive an updated report from those professionals and/or reporters regarding the child?
  • Has the child been in the same placement for the last 4 months and the caseworker has determined that the placement is stable, without any concerns noted?
  • Has the child been seen in person by a Foster Family Agency (FFA) social worker within the last 14 days with no concerns reported?
  • Is the child in an STRTP or group home (in-state or out-of-state) and receiving ongoing treatment with a mental health professional, as well as on-site case management by the agency staff?
  • Has the child been visited by their case manager in each of the prior three months with no concerns noted regarding the placement?
  • The chronological and developmental age of the child, as young children and children with developmental delays or disabilities may not be able to verbalize or otherwise communicate needs and safety issues remotely. [ Source ]

How can non-minor dependents (NMDs) complete their monthly visitation visit with their caseworkers if the NMD does not have a phone or computer?

If the youth does not have a telephone or computer, it is imperative that case workers make arrangements to ensure the youth’s needs are met and there is a way to contact the youth. Regardless of what method is utilized for monthly visits, case workers shall ensure that NMDs have proper resources and a plan developed for following local public health guidance, including, but not limited to: housing, food, water, hygiene, and other needed items. This applies to both NMDs in California and to those living out of state.

iFoster is currently offering technology access to foster youth ages 13-24, which includes: free, unlimited high-speed data hotspots, headsets, and laptops to assist in taking online classes. For additional information on available resources, call or email iFoster at: 1-855-936-7837 or phone@ifoster.org. [ Source ]

Will Child and Family Team (CFT) meetings occur during the “stay at home” order?

Yes. CFT meetings are an essential strategy for ensuring that families and providers can continue caring for children and to provide a way for the county to learn of the emotional and practical needs of the children and families during this time. When it is not possible or advisable to conduct meetings in person, meetings may be conducted using alternative options, including using videoconference or teleconference technology (with several free options, such as Skype, Zoom, or freeconferencecall.com available).

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) recommends that counties prioritize holding CFT meetings focused on the immediate and contingency planning needs of children in home-based placements and in congregate care placements at risk of placement disruption or who may be particularly significantly impacted by disruptions related to COVID-19. CDSS also recommends that, in less urgent circumstances, counties communicate with the child’s team to ensure the family understands how to request assistance or a team meeting if challenges arise. [ Source ]

Can a parent process an adoption relinquishment with an agency via videoconference call during the “stay at home” order?

No. Agencies should not accept relinquishments, or give any corresponding advisements, via alternate means (i.e., videoconference or telephonically), due to the sensitive nature of relinquishments.

In the event that a county child welfare agency is contacted by a parent who wishes to relinquish their non-dependent child for adoption, counties may consider entering into a voluntary placement agreement and postponing the acceptance of relinquishments until face-to-face visits resume.

When agencies accept relinquishments, California statute and regulations require that two witnesses observe the birth parent signing the relinquishment in-person and that birth parents receive appropriate counseling and advisement prior to signing the relinquishment. These requirements should also be conducted in accordance with and local public health recommendations or directives, including social distancing. [Source]

Will DCFS still host resource parent trainings during this time?

DCFS has postponed all in-person trainings for resource parents and caregivers. For more information, please call your social worker, the Resource Family Approval (RFA) warm line at (877) 323-7165 or visit the DCFS COVID-19 Updates page. [Source]

If a child is placed in an emergency placement during the statewide “stay at home” order, what are the available options if live scan services are not available?

In the event of an emergency placement made pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code Sections 309 or 361.45, families are generally required to submit their fingerprints for background checks within 10 days of receiving the emergency placement of a child or within five business days of receiving the emergency placement, whichever is sooner. If local live scan services are not available, the county may continue to rely on the results of the California Law Enforcement Telecommunication System (CLETs) for the maintenance of the placement. In instances when individuals who are required to live scan have been unable to live scan, those individuals should live scan within 15 days of when services are restored and the state “stay at home” order is lifted. [ Source ]

What changes have been made to the rules governing redeterminations of eligibility for benefits for children and families?  

On March 17, 2020, Governor Newsom signed Executive Order N-29-20 suspending redeterminations of eligibility for certain benefits program that many children and families rely on to meet their basic needs.  The Executive Order applies to benefits received through the following program:  

  • Medi-Cal; 
  • CalFresh; 
  • CalWORKs; 
  • Cash Assistance Program for immigrants, or  
  • In Home Supportive Services (IHSS).   

Pursuant to the Executive Order, families will not need to complete a redetermination of eligibility between March 17, 2020 through June 17, 2020. In other words, eligibility for assistance under these programs will continue until June 17, 2020 for all of these families. This will ensure that there is no disruption in health care services, food supports, cash assistance, or in-home assistance for these families during this crisis. [Source]

LA County Providing Pre-Paid Debit Cards to Low-Income Households Affected by COVID-19 Crisis

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a new campaign to support City of Los Angeles residents who have been drastically impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Pre-paid debit cards will be available to residents of the City of Los Angeles who fell below the federal poverty line before the COVID-19 crisis began and who had their income reduced by at least another 50% due to the outbreak. Financial support is available in the amounts of $700, $1,100 or $1,500, depending on the size and income of each impacted household. Applications must be completed between 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday at hcidla.lacity.org, or by calling 213-252-3040.

A few things to note regarding eligibility for the pre-paid debit card:

  • All households must be within the City of Los Angeles to be eligible for the card.
  • Applicants will NOT be asked about their immigration status.
  • Applicants need to supply various documents to prove their eligibility.
  • Debit cards will begin reaching those in need by Monday, April 20.

Benefits for workers impacted by COVID-19 are posted in a helpful summary chart by Labor and Workforce Development Agency here.

The Employment Development Department (EDD) provides a variety of support services to individuals affected by COVID-19 in California. Find all a list of their services here.

SICK OR QUARANTINED: If you’re unable to work due to having or being exposed to COVID-19 (certified by a medical professional), you can file a Disability Insurance (DI) claim. The Governor’s Executive Order waives the one-week unpaid waiting period, so you can collect DI benefits for the first week you are out of work. If you are eligible, the EDD processes and issues payments within a few weeks of receiving a claim.

CAREGIVING: If you’re unable to work because you are caring for an ill or quarantined family member with COVID-19 (certified by a medical professional), you can file a Paid Family Leave (PFL) claim.

SCHOOL CLOSURES: If your child’s school is closed, and you have to miss work to be there for them, you may be eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits. Eligibility considerations include if you have no other care options and if you are unable to continue working your normal hours remotely. File an Unemployment Insurance claim.

REDUCED WORK HOURS: If your employer has reduced your hours or shut down operations due to COVID-19, you can file an Unemployment Insurance (UI) claim. The Governor’s Executive Order waives the one-week unpaid waiting period, so you can collect UI benefits for the first week you are out of work.

SMALL BUSINESSES:

The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering up to $2 million in low-interest disaster loans for small businesses impacted by COVID-19 in certain states, including California.

The City of Los Angeles is offering emergency micro-loans between $5,000 and $50,000 to small businesses affected by the coronavirus.

DISASTER RELIEF ASSISTANCE FOR IMMIGRANTS

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, California is providing one-time state-funded disaster relief assistance to undocumented adults who are ineligible for other forms of assistance, including assistance under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and pandemic unemployment benefits, because of their immigration status. This state funding is expected to reach about 150,000 undocumented adults.

The California Department of Social Services has selected twelve immigrant-serving nonprofit organizations to help individuals apply for and receive this disaster relief assistance in their region. An undocumented adult who qualifies can receive $500 in direct assistance, with a maximum of $1000 in assistance per household. More information and frequently asked questions on the state site.

IRS & TAXES:

The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service launched a new web tool allowing registration for Economic Impact Payments for those who don’t normally file a tax return.

On March 20, Secretary of the Treasury Mnuchin announced that the earlier emergency declaration issued by President Trump in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic allowing any person with a federal income tax payment due April 15, 2020, who is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to file for an extension of payment until July 15, 2020 (for taxpayers owing less than $1,0000,000) was further expanded to extend the filing deadline for all taxpayers to July 15, 2020. Taxpayers do not need to file an extension request and are encouraged to file earlier than July 15, 2020 if owed a refund. 

The California Franchise Tax Board announced a similar filing extension for California tax filings to July 15, 2020.

 


Frequently Asked Questions – Employment & Income

What assistance is available to individuals who are missing work as a result of the school closures or as a result of businesses reducing individual’s hours?  

If your child’s school is closed, and you have to miss work to be there for them, you may be eligible for Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits. Eligibility considerations include if you have no other care options and if you are unable to continue working your normal hours remotely. File an Unemployment Insurance claim and an Employment Development Department representative will decide if you are eligible. 

If your employer has reduced your hours or shut down operations due to COVID-19, you can file an Unemployment Insurance claim. UI provides partial wage replacement benefit payments to workers who lose their job or have their hours reduced, through no fault of their own. Workers who are temporarily unemployed due to COVID-19 and expected to return to work with their employer within a few weeks are not required to actively seek work each week. However, they must remain able and available and ready to work during their unemployment for each week of benefits claimed and meet all other eligibility criteria. Eligible individuals can receive benefits that range from $40-$450 per week. 

Governor Newsom recently signed an Executive Order waiving the one-week unpaid waiting period, so you can collect UI benefits for the first week you are out of work. If you are eligible, the EDD processes and issues payments within a few weeks of receiving a claim. [Source]

Can I receive assistance while I am sick or quarantined as a result of COVID-19?  

If you’re unable to work due to having or being exposed to COVID-19 (certified by a medical professional), you can file a Disability Insurance (DI) claim. DI provides short-term benefit payments to eligible workers who have a full or partial loss of wages due to a non-work-related illness, injury, or pregnancy. Benefit amounts are approximately 60-70 percent of wages (depending on income) and range from $50-$1,300 a week. 

Governor Newsom recently signed an Executive Order waiving the one-week unpaid waiting period, so individuals can collect DI benefits for the first week they are out of work. If you are eligible, the EDD processes and issues payments within a few weeks of receiving a claim. [Source]

GENERAL

On March 19, Governor Newsom issued Executive Order N-33-20, a stay at home order to protect the health and well-being of all Californians and to establish consistency across the state in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.

How long will we stay home?

The Executive Order went into effect on Thursday, March 19, 2020. The order is in place until further notice.


What can I do? What’s open?

Essential services will remain open such as:

  • Gas stations
  • Pharmacies
  • Food: Grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks, convenience stores, take-out and delivery restaurants
  • Banks
  • Laundromats/laundry services
  • Essential state and local government functions will also remain open, including law enforcement and offices that provide government programs and services.

What’s closed?

  • Dine-in restaurants
  • Bars and nightclubs
  • Entertainment venues
  • Gyms and fitness studios
  • Public events and gatherings
  • Convention Centers

Where does this apply?

The Executive Order is in effect throughout the state of California.

Federal, State & County Orders, Policy & Advocacy

  • ACL 20-45 (April 18, 2020) Guidance Regarding Extended Foster Care Program Flexibilities Due To Covid-19 Impacts
  • ACL 20-44 (April 17, 2020)Emergency Placement And Rate Flexibilities To Support The Emergency Care And Placement Needs Of Children And Nonminor Dependents Due To Covid-19 Impacts
  • ACL 20-43 (April 17, 2020)Guidance For The Resource Family Approval (RFA) Program Due To COVID-19 Impacts
  • ACL 20-33 (March 31, 2020): Placement Preservation Guidance For County And Tribal Child Welfare Agencies, Probation Departments, And Children Residential Care Providers In The Event A Child Nonminor Dependent, Or Care Provider Is Exposed To, Presents Symptoms Of, Or Tests Positive For COVID-19
  • ACL 20-31 (March 30, 2929): Documenting Child Welfare And Probation Contacts By Alternate Means To Children And Families During Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) California State Of Emergency
  • ACL 20-28 (March 28, 2020): Interim Guidance For Emergency Response Social Workers And Probation Officers During The Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) California State Of Emergency
  • ACL 20-25 (March 21, 2020): Providing Optimal Child Welfare and Probation Services to Children and Families During Coronavirus California State of Emergency
  • PIN 20-06-CRP (Recommendations and Best Practices for Providers Related to Coronavirus Disease 2019 [COVID-19]) is available for viewing/downloading

Supporting Children With Disabilities in Accessing Special Education Services During a Time of Crisis

During the first week of April, the Alliance for Children’s Rights and other statewide partners communicated concerns with congressional leadership about the significant impact of extended school closures on students in special education programs and regional center clients.

At this time of crisis, when distance learning is the primary option, children with disabilities lose out on educational opportunities provided to other children and are at high risk of having 50 years of their civil rights reversed.

The coalition has urged federal lawmakers to:

  • Oppose waivers under IDEA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
  • Support states by providing a total of $12.5 billion in IDEA funding for: tools necessary for distance learning including hardware, software, and connectivity; extended school year and other compensatory services; and ensuring providers are paid for telehealth-related services such as speech and language, occupational, and physical therapy.
  • Focus on ensuring continuity of education and special education services by urging the Department of Education and Office for Civil Rights to provide additional guidance.

READ MORE HERE

 


Legislative Action Necessary to Protect Children in Foster Care

Our Alliance-led coalition continued its state advocacy, requesting action to address impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic recognizing that it may be many more months before individuals are active within their communities. The efforts we have made to convert to remote styles of communication and case management are likely to persist even if the current stay at home orders are lifted or modified.

The coalition requested the following actions be taken through either urgency legislation or the budget bill in order to support children in foster care and families as we continue to move through these unprecedented times:

  • Increase amount of foster care payment (AFDC-FC, ARC or Emergency Caregiver) by $400 for at least six months and ensure adequate financial support for families during the crisis by allowing individuals to access multiple aid programs
  • Access to technology for parents, caregivers and youth
  • Increased flexibility to approve placements and reduced backlogs 
  • Support non-profit community-based organizations and congregate care providers to ensure our child welfare system maintains robust provider capacity
  • Resources to support anticipated increase in calls to county emergency hotlines 
  • Resources for youth transitioning to adulthood

READ MORE HERE

 


Broad Coalition Seeks Immediate Action from Governor to Support Children in Foster Care During Crisis:

Responding to concerns raised at the local level, an Alliance for Children’s Rights-led coalition articulated immediate needs to the California Governor and state legislative leadership this week, urging them to take action to address the serious impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the lives of young Californians in foster care.

The coalition has united to urge Governor Newsom to issue an executive order that ensures children and youth in foster care:

  • can access placements
  • have stability in their placements
  • are able to continue reunification efforts with their families
  • can access and maintain eligibility for extended foster care

READ THE LETTER TO GOVERNOR NEWSOM AND MORE HERE

 


Meeting the Needs of Transition-Aged Youth

The Alliance is participating in a John Burton Advocates for Youth (JBAY)-led coalition raising issues and providing recommendations related to transition aged youth including: providing emergency financial relief to caregivers and youth; ensuring placement stability by placing a moratorium on the discharge of youth from extended foster care; removing obstacles to telehealth and other technology needs by ensuring foster youth have access to a laptop and wifi, and immediately issuing the Transitional Housing Program and Housing Navigation programs funds.

READ THE LETTER

Alliance Partners Logos

Help us support children and young people during a time
of crisis

Sign up to join the Alliance and stay connected to the work we’re doing in response to the needs of children, young adults, and families impacted by the child welfare system.