COVID-19 Child Welfare Changes/Updates/Resources (Updated 8/10/20 5:30pm)

Overwhelmed? Questions? Please reach out to OFYC: Lisa (Lisa@cffo.org)

Your Rights:

  • (Oregon) Don’t forget that you have the Foster Care Ombudsman who you can reach out to with questions or concerns. Also know that some of your rights may not be able to be met in these times of emergency. Call the Youth Empowerment and Safety (Y.E.S.) line at 1-855-840-6036 or email fco.info@state.or.us.

Needs for Oregon Foster Families and Youth:

Connection: 

  • (Oregon) OFYC and two volunteer therapists who are also with A Home Within are hosting a support group on Mondays at 7pm for current and former foster youth.
  • (Oregon) Empower Hour with Joshua Morgan-Griggs is on Tuesdays at 8pm. This is a space for current & former foster youth to get connected and establish a support network during this uncertain and isolating time.
  • (National) The Warriors of Foster Care FaceBook page was started by Dominque M Paris who OFYC members met at the 2019 Foster Youth in Action L4C conference. This is a space for current and former foster youth who are impacted by the virus and the unique challenges it presents members of our community
  • (Oregon) YouthERA is providing their peer support services virtually. Peer Support on Twitch, an online streaming platform that has become a home for those in need of community across the world. Virtual Drop-in Centers are available every weekday from 3:00 PM – 6:00 PM on Discord. Discord is a safe and supportive space where youth can build community, chat with other young people going through the same things, and lean on our peer support specialists for support.

How to Access CARE Act Payments ($1,200):

  • Direct deposits of the $1200 per person stimulus payments are going to start this week—but only for households that have been using direct deposit for their tax refunds or social security payments.  Those who normally get their refunds by check, who haven’t filed recently, or for any other reason haven’t given their bank deposit info to the IRS will be issued checks—and that’s going to take longer.
  • The good news is that the IRS has set up a way for you to contact them directly and give your bank information.  You’ll be able to do that here.  If you have not been filing for the last couple of years, check out the “Non-Filers: Enter Your Payment Info Here.”  You can start the process of providing the necessary info immediately.
  • If you have been filing but have not been using direct deposit, go to “Filers: Get Your Payment.”  That application form is not yet live, but it should be any day now. Keep checking back.
  • If you haven’t received a payment, you may want to check out this resource.
  • Added 6/3/20: (Oregon) Get Free Tax Help. In response to COVID-19, MFS CASH Oregon is taking Volunteer Tax Assistance to the phone. IRS certified volunteers can answer your tax questions and guide you through filing your own taxes.

Visits with family:

  • 4/17/20 (National) Child Welfare can use federal funds to help purchase technology that will support visitation! More details here.
  • 6/1/2020 (Oregon) DHS is now approved to provide in-person visits between parents and children! All visitations will need to follow health and safety guidelines of the CDC and local health authorities, including screenings and other health precautions. Unsupervised visits will continue to occur according to plans for each family based on their specific circumstances and in compliance with active court orders regarding visitation. Guidance on virtual visits will remain in place to enhance the frequency of contact between parents and children. Virtual visits are to supplement, not replace, in-person visits. More detail here and here.
    • Here is a message from Director Jones Gaston.

Visits with case workers:

  • 3/18/2020 (National) Monthly caseworker visits: Section 422(b)(17) of the Social Security Act (the Act) requires that caseworkers visit children in foster care on a monthly basis.  The policy, as currently posted, prohibits using videoconferencing for the purpose of meeting that requirement, and requires that such visits must be held face-to-face. 
    • The current public health challenges and guidelines require a reconsideration of that policy. The monthly caseworker visit requirement remains in place, but we are modifying our policy to permit such visits to be conducted by videoconferencing in these current extraordinary circumstances. More detail here and here.
  • 4/3/20 (Oregon) Monthly face to face contact between case workers and children currently residing in DHS certified foster homes, and other out of home care settings including homes certified by our Oregon tribes and caring for children in DHS custody:
    • Caseworkers will temporarily be permitted to conduct monthly face to face visits with children currently residing in DHS certified foster homes, and other out of home care settings virtually and by phone. More detail here.
  • 4/3/20 (Oregon) Monthly face to face contact between case workers and children currently residing in-home:
    • Monthly in-person face to face contact should still occur for children currently on in-home plans or trial reunifications. More detail here.
  • 4/3/20 (Oregon) Monthly face to face contact between case workers and care providers:
    • Caseworkers will temporarily be permitted to conduct face to face visits with certified care providers virtually and via phone. More detail here.

Child Abuse and Neglect Investigations:

  • 3/18/202 (Oregon) To report concerns, contact Oregon’s statewide HotLine at 1-855-503-SAFE (7233) or your local law enforcement. More detail here
  • 3/18/2020 (National) There are no federal requirements that govern the procedures for conducting investigations of alleged child abuse and neglect. State and local child protective services agencies should follow the guidance of state and local public health officials with respect to conducting investigations at this time, including whether caseworkers should initiate in-person contact. More detail here.

Other Legislative and Regulatory Flexibility:

  • 3/18/2020 (National) The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is unable to waive or alter requirements including the case review system requirements that are delineated at section §475(5) of the Act.  Although periodic reviews and permanency hearings are important protections for children in foster care, we have explained that the case review requirements are not a title IV-E eligibility requirement and, therefore, delays in conducting these activities will not adversely affect a child’s eligibility for title IV-E. More detail here.
  • 3/16/20 (Oregon) Chief Justice Martha Walters has put out an order to restrict court hearings and operations, except in specific circumstances. More details here.
  • 5/15/20 (Oregon) Chief Justice Martha Walters issued an order late Friday relaxing some restrictions in the 31 counties approved to reopen. More details here.
  • 4/28/20 (Oregon) Citizen Review Boards (CRB) are practicing this week for video meetings. New protocols are in place to meet by video/phone starting May 4, 2020. More details here.

Education:

  • (National) Check with your local school district for technology to borrow.
  • (Oregon) Any youth age 14 or older could use the ILP Discretionary Funds to purchase a laptop ($300 or less, or $250 or less in Multnomah County). They have a vendor where they get decent laptops at really good prices. Ask your case worker, ILP worker, or Contact Oregon’s ILP office at 503-945-5684 or ILP.Central@state.or.us for support. 
  • 3/18/20 (National) Free laptops for foster youth to access school remotely. “For our program, to ensure we remain mission aligned and to ensure we are protecting the privacy of the child, we ask that the wishes get submitted by the case worker. The case worker can create an account to become a community partner right here. Please share this link with them. (Lisa can create an account to post “wishes” for youth who have a closed case.)
  • (National) Closing of Universities. The Children’s Bureau urges all child welfare agencies to immediately contact all youth and young adults in colleges or in other settings who may need assistance finding and securing housing while their college or university is closed. More here. Contact Oregon’s ILP office at 503-945-5684 or ILP.Central@state.or.us for support.
  • (National) Post-Secondary Academic Support and Success. Students currently enrolled in post-secondary education should contact their general, departmental advisors, and/or specific student support services (ie.TRIO, Educational Opportunity Program, Multicultural Student Services) to determine what resources are available to support their academic success, completion and graduation.
  • (National) Scholly is providing $200 in cash assistance to provide essential financial help to buy groceries, health supplies, and other necessities for those in need. If you’re a student, parent of a student, or graduate, we encourage you to apply today.
  • 3/27/20 (Oregon) Oregon Public Universities Will No Longer Require SAT/ACT for Admission. The Presidents of Oregon’s seven public universities have just decided to no longer require standardized test results for admission, as you can see in this press release.  Beginning in Fall 2021, SAT or ACT scores will no longer need to be submitted with admissions applications.

Food:

  • (Oregon) Accessing Food During the Coronavirus Outbreak, includes links to school districts with how to access food while schools are closed.
  • (Oregon) 211info connects people with health and social service organizations.
  • (Oregon) The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) offers food benefits to eligible, low-income individuals and families. Find out if you are eligible and how to apply for food benefits here. There is Special Criteria for Students of Higher Education as well.
  • (Portland Metro) Native American Youth and Family Center has food boxes available to youth. Please ask Lisa for a connection
  • New 8/10/20 (Oregon) The Department of Human Services recently launched a campaign to promote NeedFood.Oregon.Gov, a webpage that can help connect Oregonians with food resources during COVID-19. The webpage contains information about summer meal programs for kids, food pantries, SNAP and more. 

Housing:

  • (National) Through Housing and Urban Development (HUD) former foster youth have access to Family Unification Program (FUP) or Foster Youth to Independence (FYI) vouchers for housing. Google to find your counties “Public Housing Authority” and ask about how to access these. Contact Oregon’s ILP office at 503-945-5684 or ILP.Central@state.or.us for support. *New Vouchers available in Portland (4/1/20), Clackamas Co (3/31/20), Klamath Co (3/5/20), and Lake Co (3/5/20).
  • (Oregon) 211info connects people with health and social service organizations.
  • (National) You may also contact your college/University’s housing office to determine what housing accommodations are available for those in unstable housing situations during this time.
  • 3/11/20 (Portland/Multnomah Co) A stop of evictions due to non-payment of rent for tenants experiencing a substantial loss of income in connection to the COVID-19 crisis is in place. Please view the Eviction Moratorium FAQ to learn more.
  • 5/12/20 (Oregon) DHS currently has an exception to work with youth who meet criteria on an “Admin-only” Chafee Housing case (i.e. no DHS caseworker) and may receive up to $1000/month to assist with independent living expenses for the months of April, May, June, July, August, and September or until your 23rd birthday, if that’s sooner. Please email DHS Central Office ILP Desk at ILP.Central@state.or.us with a subject line of:  “COVID Chafee Housing” to see about eligibility to assist in housing payments
  • 5/18/20 (Oregon) Oregon Made $8.5 Million Available To Pay Rent. Here’s How To Get It.
  • 8/3/20 (Portland/Multnomah Co) The state of Oregon has thankfully distributed $10 million in rent relief funds for Multnomah County residents. If you need help with your rent, head over to 211info.org/multco-rent to learn more. Only those who earn 80% or less of the median family income are eligible for this assistance.

Health:

  • 4/24/2020 (Oregon) Testing is available now through the Walgreens COVID-19 Testing website.
  • (National) As former foster youth you have access to health insurance until age 26. FosterClub can help you get re-connected.
  • 3/15/20 (National) While the HIPAA Privacy Rule is not suspended during a public health or other emergency, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) may waive certain provisions of the Privacy Rule. More details here and here.
  • 3/19/20 (National) A covered health care provider that wants to use audio or video communication technology to provide telehealth to patients during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency can use any non-public facing remote communication product that is available to communicate with patients without penalty. More details here.
  • (Oregon) Health Share has a coronavirus webpage and a list of some community resources to support you during this difficult time.

Mental/Emotional Support:

  • (Oregon) We acknowledge the emotional burden and toll that this current situation is having on us, our loved ones and community. If at any time, you feel like you need to reach out to talk to someone, please contact YouthLine via phone at 1-877-968-8491 or send a text to teen2teen’ to 839863. More details here
  • (National) If at any time you are experiencing thoughts of no longer living and/or harming yourself, contact the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-88255. More details here.
  • (National) To limit feelings of loneliness, this is the best time to utilize platforms such as facebook, snapchat, zoom, skype, and/or mobile phone capabilities to stay connected with your friends and loved ones.
  • (National) A Home Within provides open-ended individual psychotherapy to current and former foster youth, free of charge. Note: they may not be able to meet all requests at this time.
  • (Oregon) The NAMI Oregon Helpline remains operational. Callers receive live assistance from 9 am to 5 pm weekdays.  Telephone numbers are 503-230-8009 or 800-343-6264. Or email at namioregon@namior.org. NAMI’s Covid-19 Resource and Information Guide in PDF format covers maintaining wellness, navigating health care, and other questions that their helplines are receiving.  You can download the guide here.
  • See the “Connection: section above

Bill Support:

  • 3/18/20 (Portland) The Portland Water Bureau will not disconnect water service for non-payment of sewer, stormwater and water bills. 
  • 3/18/20 (Oregon) Portland General Electric, Pacific Power and NW Natural will suspend late fees and shutoffs
  • 3/18/20 (Oregon) Comcast and Charter are offering free internet access to eligible households, among other measures, to help people stay connected.3/16/20 (National) Spectrum commits to offering free internet for 60 days to households with K-12 or college students who don’t already have a Spectrum subscription. It is also opening its Wi-Fi hotspots for public use. To enroll, call 1-844-488-8395.
  • (Oregon) 211info connects people with health and social service organizations.
  • 3/20/20 (National) Student Loan Relief: Secretary DeVos announced that Federal Student Aid (FSA) will provide student loan relief to allow borrowers to temporarily stop their payments without worrying about accruing interest. If you have student loans, contact your loan servicer to see if and how these policies will affect you.
  • 4/1/2020 (Oregon) Governor Brown issued Executive Order 20-13, extending the moratorium on evictions to prohibit landlords from issuing an eviction notice (Executive Order 20-11 just prohibited the enforcement of evictions), to prohibit late fees, and to extend these protections to commercial tenants as well.
  • 5/12/20 (Oregon) DHS currently has an exception to work with youth who meet criteria on an “Admin-only” Chafee Housing case (i.e. no DHS caseworker) and may receive up to $1000/month to assist with independent living expenses for the months of April, May, June, July, August, and September or until your 23rd birthday, if that’s sooner. Please email DHS Central Office ILP Desk at ILP.Central@state.or.us with a subject line of:  “COVID Chafee Housing” to see about eligibility to assist in housing payments.
  • 6/3/20: (Oregon) Get Free Tax Help. In response to COVID-19, MFS CASH Oregon is taking Volunteer Tax Assistance to the phone. IRS certified volunteers can answer your tax questions and guide you through filing your own taxes.
  • 8/3/20 (Portland/Multnomah Co) The state of Oregon has thankfully distributed $10 million in rent relief funds for Multnomah County residents. If you need help with your rent, head over to 211info.org/multco-rent to learn more. Only those who earn 80% or less of the median family income are eligible for this assistance.

Employment:

  • (Oregon) The Unemployment Insurance coronavirus website now includes a VERY helpful video on applying for benefits as a result of layoff due to the pandemic.  Scroll down and select the video entitled “Filing a New Claim During the COVID-19 State of Emergency.”  It will tell you just how to answer the questions on the application form to determine your eligibility. If you still have questions:  OED_COVID19_info@oregon.gov.

Legislature:

  • (Oregon) You can reach out to your legislators if you have questions or concerns as well!
    • Legislator Lookup – enter your address in the box in the top right hand corner – a box will pop up showing  the “Senate” tab with your Senator’s name and email address, click on the “House” tab to find your Representative’s name and email address, click on the “Congress” tab to find your United States Congressperson.

2020 Census:

  • (National) This may seem like an odd “resource”, but the US Census is how the federal government finds out how many people (and children) there are in Oregon and your local community. This determines how much money they give for things like Medicaid (that’s OHP here in OR) and Head Start, where roads and sewers need to be built to support all the people who live in a given area, as well as how many representatives each state gets in the House of Representatives. Watch for a form in the mail or go here to do it online!

COVID-19:

Questions: