Information for Providing Foster Care as Massachusetts Manages COVID-19
This page was last updated on June 5, 2020 and was updated to include updated information on Online Support Groups.
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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).
- Click here to read DCF’s letter to foster parents regarding COVID-19.
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
Through April 3, 2020, the Kid’s Net Helpline will be available to foster parents 24 hours a day. The Helpline will be staffed by social workers experienced in foster care who can provide information and support and help resolve non-emergency issues.
Kids 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.
Kids Net Virtual Support Groups and Training:
Outreach and Home Visits
DCF Family Resource Workers and child social workers have been directed to check in with the children and families assigned to them by phone or FaceTime. If after these contacts, and in consultation with a supervisor, it is determined an imminent situation exists necessitating a face-to-face contact, plans for a home visit will be made. These visits will be conducted after making a routine assessment of the health of the individuals in the home and while there, the worker will use common-sense precautions to reduce potential exposure to 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 the Area Office.
Visits with Family or Visiting Resources
At this point there is no prohibition on visits with family or visiting resources. However, given the need to take precautions to limit exposure to COVID-19 and limits on the availability of resources to support supervised visits, foster parents should be in communication with the child’s worker to discuss the particular needs and circumstances of the child in order to make a determination regarding visits that is right for that particular child. In those circumstances where children are unable to spend time with their families, foster families and social workers should discuss whether increasing telephone access and/or FaceTime is an appropriate option for children to connect with loved ones.
Placements and Planned Removals
Placements and planned removals are continuing as appropriate. Questions regarding placements should be directed to the child’s social worker.
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.
- Some medical offices are offering telehealth visits. These visits are occurring mostly by telephone at this time and rarely by video. When utilizing telehealth, it would be ideal for children to be scheduled with medical providers who know them or have treated them before when possible.
- 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.
Emergency Child Care Centers
With the mandated closure of child care centers in the Commonwealth, certain child care centers have been designated as Emergency Child Care Centers, the centers main charge is to provide child care for certain children including those who are DCF involved and/or whose parents are essential to responding to COVID-19. If you need access to one of these Centers please call your Area or Regional DCF Office to find out if you are eligible.
Foster Parent-to-Foster Parent Emergency Child Care
From March 23 through the end of April, Kid’s Net can pay a stipend for emergency child care provided by a licensed foster parent for short term work related or emergency situations that occur during the daytime.
If you are willing to be an emergency child care resource please contact your Kid’s Net Regional Director. Contact information is listed at mspcc.org/kidsnet. If you need emergency child care contact your family resource worker.
Financial Support for Children in Foster Care
On April 17, Governor Charlie Baker announced additional financial resources will be provided for children in foster care (unrestricted and kinship) to ensure that additional costs of care arising from the COVID-19 crisis are met. Funding will be an additional $100 per child, per month for April, May and June. The first checks are expected to be sent out during the last week of April.