Information for Providing Foster Care as Massachusetts Manages COVID-19
This page was last updated on August 20, 2020.
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DCF is open for business.
- Area offices are staffed by a small number of supervisors and staff during regular business hours, Monday- Friday, 8:45 am – 5:00pm.
- All other DCF staff are working remotely. Workers are using phone, email and FaceTime to communicate with foster families- adults and children. Workers may also make an in-person visit as needed (see home visits below).
Your family resource worker and the social worker for a child remain your primary and best contact points. Email is the most reliable way to communicate with them but they are also regularly checking voicemail. You can also include the worker’s supervisor in your communication.
Area Offices’ (click here to find your local Area Office) phones will be answered during regular business hours. If you do not receive a timely response from a family resource worker or social worker, please call the Area Office for assistance.
After Hours Urgent and Emergency Support
Judge Baker Massachusetts Child Abuse Emergency Line 800-792-5200
The MA Child Abuse Emergency Line is available evenings, weekends and holidays when the DCF Area offices are closed. Social workers and mental health counselors are available by phone to take reports of missing children (runaways) and to respond to mandated reporters and others who are concerned about the wellbeing of a child. In situations where a child is at imminent risk, including a child in need of medical or mental health hospital admission, staff can consult with on-call DCF Supervisors and Emergency Response Social workers to initiate an emergency response.
Non Emergency Support
Kid’s Net Helpline 800-486-3730
The Kid’s Net Helpline remains available to foster parents. During business hours, a voicemail box is monitored and calls returned promptly. When DCF offices are closed, the Helpline is staffed by social workers experienced in foster care who can provide information and support and help resolve non-emergency issues.
Kid’s Net Staff www.mspcc.org/kidsnet/
Kid’s Net Directors and Family Resource Liaisons (FRLs) are available in every community as a source of support and to connect you with information and resources.
Kid’s Net Virtual Support Groups and Training:
Our in person training and support groups have been suspended but we continue to offer live, virtual statewide training and area office based support groups. You can find our schedules here. We have also included recorded versions of past trainings on our website: take a look!
Outreach and Home Visits
DCF Family Resource Workers and child social workers continue to check in with the children and families assigned to them by e-mail, phone or video conferencing. When determined to be necessary and safe to do so, some in person home visits are occurring. These visits are conducted after making a routine assessment of the health of the individuals in the home and while there, the worker will use precautions to reduce potential exposure to and transmission of COVID-19.
If there are multiple workers connected to a foster home, workers are being encouraged to coordinate a single visit to reduce the number of visitors in a home.
If you are concerned about an in-person visit you should discuss your concerns with the worker and, if necessary, seek support from supervisory staff.
Visits with Family or Visiting Resources
Virtual visitation is still occurring for many children for whom in person visitation is not an option at this time. For information on how to approach and structure virtual visits for a child in your home, please view this Virtual Visits training.
In July, DCF provided guidance to foster families on resuming in person visits for both kids in congregate care settings and in foster homes. Click here to read the Commissioner’s Letter and click here to view the DCF Guidance on In-Person Family Time.
Questions or concerns regarding the plan for visitation for any child in your home should first be directed to the child’s social worker and the family resource worker for troubleshooting and problem solving. If questions still remain, foster families have been advised to raise their concerns to the supervisory and area program manager levels for assistance.
Reporting medical conditions and concerns:
All medical conditions and concerns regarding a child or a foster parent, including those related to COVID-19, should be communicated to the child’s worker by e-mail.
From DCF medical staff:
- There are no changes to the 7 day medical screening based on what is expected during the actual physical exams. DCF medical staff are trying to put on hold the scheduling of 30 day screenings at this time. This is because medical offices need to conserve resources during the COVID-19 outbreak. A priority should be placed on children with chronic medical conditions (like asthma, diabetes, cardiac conditions), children under 5, and children who are ill at the time of home removal.
- If children are sick: Please call the health care provider as medical offices have specific screening protocols in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
- Children who are sick (with cough, fever, difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy) will usually need to be seen in person but a telehealth visit can determine when this is necessary. It is recommended that babies under the age of 12 months be seen in person if possible.
Emergency Supplies of Medication:
MassHealth has approved access to early renewal of medication to enable families to access an emergency supply. Initially, this did not include behavioral health medications however, effective March 20, 2020, these prescriptions are now included.
Questions regarding a new or pre-existing daycare voucher should be directed to a child’s social worker. Kid’s Net continues to provide a stipend for in-home babysitting provided by a DCF approved caretaker up to 10 hours per month and has re-opened the request process to use licensed, home-based daycare facilities, up to 10 hours per month. Please contact your Regional Kid’s Net Director for more information.