Dear Foster Parent:
Over the past several days, we have seen our state and federal governments take unprecedented measures to mitigate the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Child and Family Services (CFS) remains committed to the safety of our children, families, and resource parents as we all learn to manage the challenges of this new disease. As a country, the information regarding the novel coronavirus continues to be updated on a daily basis, and as such, we continue to make decisions based on the most current recommendations from our state and federal partners. In order to communicate information to you, we will be posting future letters and updates on our foster parent resource webpage. Please frequently check this webpage Foster/Adoptive Parent Resources for the most current information.
As we learn more about this virus, we want to assure you that the department is taking steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while considering the well-being of children and their families, as well as your family. If you have questions about the virus, it is important to obtain information from a trusted source such as https://coronavirus.idaho.gov/ or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Please utilize these helpful resources to obtain information on how to prepare your household for possible exposure to the virus.
Here are a few steps you can immediately begin taking to help prevent the spread of this virus. For prevention measures, the CDC recommends that everyone follow the normal precautions for avoiding the flu and other respiratory diseases.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
• Stay home when you are sick.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after being in public; going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
o If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
If you think your foster child or someone in your household is sick and you are worried it may be COVID-19, please contact your health care provider immediately to discuss symptoms and next steps. Your health care provider will provide you with further guidance including getting tested.
If anyone in your household, including a child in foster care, is being tested for or is diagnosed with COVID-19, please take the following steps:
• Notify the assigned case manager for the child in your care immediately.
• If this occurs after hours or on the weekend, please contact our Centralized Intake Unit at 208-334-5437.
• Notify the biological parents or guardian if you have previous approval for contact by the assigned social worker.
In order to assist in preventing the spread of the virus, Child and Family Services will take the following precautions in the event a child in foster care or someone in your household is being tested for or is diagnosed with COVID-19:
• The department will assist in canceling any appointments for the child in foster care until approval for contact is approved by a medical professional.
• Arrangements will be made with you, the department, and the biological parents to maintain frequent contact by phone, face time or email as approved by the assigned case manager to assist in sharing information about the status of the child you are caring for.
Child and Family Services has also asked for biological parents to follow the same guidelines as above to prevent the spread of the virus.
Effective immediately, all supervised parent/child visits will be conducted utilizing videoconferencing (i.e. FaceTime, Skype, or other videoconferencing technology). This change will continue until April 3, 2020, at which time it will be re-evaluated. The social worker will be in contact with you to make arrangements; if you do not have the ability to support video visits please notify the social worker as soon as possible. During this challenging time, children may have additional worries about their parents. Please talk with the worker about increasing contact outside of the scheduled visit time including additional video conferences, phone calls, texts, or other forms of communication that may help decrease the anxiety for children.
All visits between parents and children that are unsupervised will be negotiated between you as the caregiver, the biological parents or relatives who participate in visits, and the social worker or supervisor. This negotiation must include the questions identified below to screen all participants for COVID-19. Keeping everyone safe from exposure to COVID-19 is essential during this process. All participants of an unsupervised visit will be asked the following questions before deciding to recommend unsupervised visits to a supervisor:
• Have you, or any member of your family, been exposed to someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19?
• Have you traveled to areas highly affected by COVID-19?
• Are you or anyone in your household being tested for COVID-19?
• Do you have any of the following symptoms?
o Dry cough
o Shortness of breath
If any of the answers to those questions are yes for any participant, then the unsupervised visit must be completed via video conferencing. If the participants cannot agree on the parameters of the unsupervised visit, or if the department assesses that that any of the participants cannot follow the recommendation for social distancing, a supervisor or chief will be included to determine next steps.
All unsupervised visits that are agreed upon will receive final approval from a department supervisor who will review the plan that addresses how the spread of COVID-19 will be decreased during the visit.
Social Worker Contacts
To further prevent the spread of the virus, Child and Family Services will immediately begin conducting monthly visits with children in foster care through video conferencing such as Skype, FaceTime, or other video conferencing technology. There may be occasions where a face to face visit between the child and case manager may be necessary. If you do not have videoconferencing capability, please notify your child’s case manager so that decisions can be made on how to complete this federally required visit. Social workers have been provided guidance on how to best complete this video visit with the child and with you as the caregiver to assure everyone’s needs are met.
Social workers will still need to speak with children, depending on their age and development, privately. As the caregiver, please plan for children to have this time with their social worker so they may assess the child’s safety, permanency, and well-being. For infants, non-verbal, and very young children, the social worker will need your assistance in completing this important contact.
The social worker will also want to speak with you privately to help assess for the child’s safety, permanency, and well-being as well as your needs as the child’s current caregiver. If possible, arrange for another adult to play with the child while you speak with the worker.
Re-licensing Home Visits
We have asked that all home visits required to relicense families prior to April 3, 2020 be rescheduled to further prevent spread of the virus. Licensing social workers will still conduct visits with resource families if there are concerns for compliance with licensing rules or standards.
We recognize that the current novel coronavirus outbreak and constant media coverage can be anxiety-producing. While it is important to stay informed, there are things we can do to manage our mental well-being:
• Avoid speculation and get your information from reputable sources, such as:
o Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention-treatment.html),
o World Health Organization (https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019),
o Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (https://coronavirus.idaho.gov/).
• Manage how you follow the outbreak in the media. If the news is causing you additional stress, reduce your media intake.
• Talk about your fears, anxiety, and stress. Internalizing these will only make you feel worse.
We ask that you continue discussing any upcoming travel plans with your case worker.
The department appreciates your continued partnership in caring for Idaho’s children. With your help, we will help to prevent this spread of the virus at the same time as we work to assure the safety, permanency, and well-being of the children in our care. Please remember to frequently check the Resource Parent webpage for updates.
Family and Community Services
Reasonable and Prudent Parenting Standard (RPPS)
The new Normalcy for Youth in Foster Care web section includes resources that provide information for professionals and caregivers on how to support and promote typical childhood experiences for youth in foster care.
This training is required for all licensed foster parents and onsite designated officials of group homes and residential treatment facilities. Practice, policy and application of the reasonable and prudent parent standard does not go into effect until July 1, 2016. In addition, the standard may not be applied prior to completing the training. The protection under the liability as it applies to the reasonable and prudent parent standard will not be effective until the training has been completed.
The recorded webinar for the Reasonable and Prudent Parent Standard and Normalcy Training is available.
Access the Training Webinar: Please click the Canvas link below or copy and paste it in your URL to access the "Reasonable Prudent Parenting" webinar. You will be prompted to install the Blackboard Collaborate meeting software through a link on that page. After installing the software, you may need to revisit the meeting link to download the meeting file. Click on the meeting file (meeting.collab); the web meeting software will launch and join you to the meeting. This same link will provide you with the recorded version after the live webinar is complete.
If you need to use your phone for audio, use the Dial-In number and PIN below
Phone Dial In 571-392-7703 PIN 21 356 023 508
When the webinar is complete, please come back to the home page and complete the exit survey. This is the way we will track your attendance. Each person will need to complete a survey. If you do not turn in a survey, you will not get credit for this course.
For additional training opportunities through your local Training and Support Groups, please visit http://www.icwrtc.org/events/training-support-meetings for further details or contact your local Recruitment Coordinator.
The Caregiver Guidelines for Normalcy for Children and the Reasonable Prudent Parent Standard Handout are available for reference.
Health-Care Coverage for Children and Youth in Foster Care
Now that the 2016 open enrollment period for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) is underway, it's important to understand what that means for children and youth in foster care. Because of possible abuse or neglect, this vulnerable population often has significant health-care needs. Changes in the nation's health-care laws have increased access to and affordability of health care, including for those involved with child welfare. Child Welfare Information Gateway offers resources for more information on these changes and their effects on children, youth, and families. You can access that information at Health Insurance: Medicaid, CHIP, and the Affordable Care Act.
The above message provided by Child Welfare listserv from childwelfare.gov
On behalf of Catherine Heath, Children's Bureau
For most parents and caregivers, it’s important to feel that their children are on a path toward financial well-being into adulthood. But in their busy family lives, it isn’t always easy to know how or when to have money conversations, or what to say or do.
To help, we invite you to explore CFPB’s new resource, Money as You Grow. The newly redesigned Money As You Grow website combined age-appropriate activities and conversation starters from the popular MoneyAsYouGrow.org site with research-based information into how children develop money skills, habits, and attitudes. The result is a newly redesigned experience for parents and caregivers, where they’ll find resources they can use right away—plus background on why these activities can work to promote healthy money habits.
Check out Money as You Grow:
Pregnant and Parenting teens often are balancing their lives and being a parent. Ensuring that adolescent parents receive adequate social and emotional, medical, and academic support is essential to the parent and the baby’s future. Find information on parenting tips, resources, to support pregnant and parenting teens. Resources include State and local examples.
Resources for Teen Pregnancy are now live on Child Welfare Information Gateway.
The Reasonable and Prudent Parent Standard
Currently, Child and Family Services are preparing to present new rules and legislation regarding the Reasonable and Prudent Parent Standard. These rules and legislation are part of the federal requirement associated with Public Law 113-183, the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act. Essentially, they will provide our resource families and a designated official at children’s licensing facility/agencies, who provide placements for children/youth placed through the foster care system, the ability to make day-to-day decisions regarding a foster children/youth’s participation in extracurricular, enrichment and social activities without seeking the approval of DHW. These activities may include participating in after school events, staying the night at a friend’s house, going to the movies, etc. We will continue to encourage the involvement of the birth parents as well as an assessment of the child/youth’s functioning in making these day-to-day decisions. The proposed legislation will include liability coverage for resource parents/designated officials who act within the Reasonable and Prudent Parent Standard. Here are the official links related to the proposed legislation:
Statement of Purpose
Rules Governing Standards for Child Care Licensing
House H & W Committee 16-0602-1501
and Senate H & W Committee16-0602-1501
These rule changes are not in effect and have not been reviewed and approved by the Legislature. If these proposed rule changes are approved they will go into effect on July 1, 2016. In the meantime additional guidance, support and training will be offered to all resource parents and contracted children’s licensed facilities/agencies to assist in streamlining the implementation of this legislation. We are planning on offering training at the annual Resource Family Conferences this spring.
Beginning July 1, 2016, pursuant to Title 16 Chapter 16-1629 Idaho Code, the Department of Health and Welfare is required to provide written notice to foster parents of all placement changes, whether they are a planned or an unplanned placement change. These notices are in addition to our current practice of notifying birth parents and Guardian Ad Litems. The letter will include the following information:the reason for the change in placement,the number of times the child has experienced a placement change since they have been placed in foster care,if the child will change schools due to the placement change; and if the change in placement results in separation or reunification with siblings placed in foster care. For all planned placement changes foster parents will receive written notice no later than 7 days prior to the placement change. For unplanned placement changes foster parents will receive written notice within 7 days after the placement change.These letters will not replace the ongoing discussions and conversations you are having with the child’s assigned social worker. If you have further questions regarding the legislative changes please feel free to contact your assigned social worker, licensing worker or Julie Sevcik Child Welfare Program Specialist over Foster Care Recruitment and Retention at Julie.Sevcik@dhw.idaho.gov or 208.334.6953.