Child Welfare & Benefits

COVID-19
Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on email

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

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]

The Alliance for Children’s Rights protects the rights of impoverished, abused and neglected children and youth.

Share:

Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on email

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.