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Child Welfare COVID-19 Policy Updates

Updated: Mar 29, 2020

ODJFS recently posted an updated Q&A to their website that address a few private agency child welfare issues, including foster parent issues. Please check it out here.

Today, ODJFS sent a letter to juvenile courts telling them: “Staffing concerns have necessitated that placement agencies (residential treatment centers, group homes, shelter care facilities) discontinue new admissions of children.” And “Placement agencies do not have staff to ensure the safety and treatment needs of children.” We will follow up with our residential providers about the accuracy of this letter and any potential concerns.

Below is a summary of the key issues and policy changes related to foster care, adoption, residential care, and group home care, as of 3/26.

  1. If your foster parents don’t have there required hours prior to their re-cert date, that’s okay. You can use a good cause waiver.

  2. Can foster parent trainings “count” if they are conducted online? Yes. All of them. All hours. All types of online and video training. There are no caps.

  3. Do stipends and allowance for foster parent training still “count” for online training? Yes, so long as there was a live trainer conducting the training.

  4. Can home visits be conducted through video conferencing? Yes. Foster home case management visits can as can adoption assessor post-placement visits. Make these decisions on a case by case basis after assessing immediate health and safety concerns.

  5. What if my county PCSA says I still have to do face to face visits? If you aren’t comfortable doing them face to face, don’t do them. Feel free to inform ODJFS (either your licensing specialist or Colleen Tucker) of your concerns with county practices.

  6. Foster home safety audits for re-certification will be waived if certain conditions apply – more information on this exemption is forthcoming from ODJFS. 

  7. Do we still have to meet the 3/31 deadline to obtain the FFPSA required background checks for staff and Board members? For now, yes. It’s still in federal and state law. We are working with both departments to see if they can hold off on monitoring your compliance with this requirement.

  8. Can my agency limit visitors into our office or licensed facilities? Yes. ODJFS or OhioMHAS also isn’t going to stop by anytime soon. 

  9. How should we handle foster youth, foster parents, or kids in our residential facilities needing to be quarantined? There is no official guidance from ODJFS or OhioMHAS – rely on your local health department for guidance, as well as ODH and CDC guidelines. Inform ODJFS (or OhioMHAS) immediately if a quarantine is needed to keep them in the loop.

  10. Do my Bridges visits with participants need to be in-person? Not necessarily. Refer to the recent Bridges guidance for more details.

Other issues on our radar to address…

  1. Revisions to the ODJFS Master Contract to take into account COVID-19 exemptions.

  2. Rising cost and limited coverage of agency liability insurance. 

  3. Access to protective medical equipment and cleaning supplies for homes and facilities


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