Child Welfare & Benefits

COVID-19
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All County Letter from California Department of Social Services: Providing Optimal Child Welfare And Probation Services To Children And Families During Coronavirus (COVID-19) California State Of Emergency

Supplemental Security Income Recipients will Receive Automatic COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments:

The IRS started processing its third round of economic impact payments in March 2021. SSI recipients will automatically receive this third payment directly to their bank accounts through direct deposit, debit card, or paper, just as they would normally receive their SSI benefits. The amount of the stimulus check will be up to $1,400 for an adult.

If you entered information in the Non-Filers tool last year (2020), the IRS will use this information to determine your eligibility and the amount of the third payment. If you don’t usually file a tax return but need to for 2020 in order to claim additional dependents and have an income of $72,000 or less, you can file your federal tax return electronically for free through the IRS Free File Program. When you file your 2020 tax return you may be eligible to claim the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit for your spouse and any qualifying children under age 17 at the end of 2020 (click here for more).

The Social Security Administration will not consider the stimulus payments as income for SSI recipients if you spend the money within 12 months of receipt.

For further information about your economic impact payments, please see FAQs here.

Clarification on Notice 1444: “Answers for most Economic Impact Payment questions are available on the automated message for people who call the phone number provided in Notice 1444, the letter sent by the IRS within 15 days after your first payment was issued in 2020. Those who need additional assistance at the conclusion of the message will have the option of talking to a telephone representative.”

TAY Pandemic Funding Maximization Matrix: Leveraging Covid-19 Aid for Transition Aged Youth:

Transition-aged youth continue to face challenges during the pandemic and recovery. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan have provided an array of funds and benefits, however, many young people and their advocates are not aware of all that is available for transition aged youth and young adults. This matrix provides an inventory of some of the key funds, benefits and programs that transition aged youth may benefit from. This list includes benefits for young people with experience in foster care as well as those who are not system involved. We hope that it will help you access concrete resources for individual young people and advocate for the development of programs and services for transition aged youth.

Resource, Foster and Kinship Families & the Child Tax Credit (CTC): 

Many resource, foster and kinship families are either unaware of, or given incorrect information about, their ability to access the new federal child tax credit as a result of caring for children in their homes. This resource provides basic information about the CTC which we hope will assist both families and their advocates to receive the benefit amounts to which they are entitled.

FAQ: Chafee Cash Card Eligibility & Distribution for Young People in Juvenile Detention, Juvenile Justice Placements or Who are Incarcerated or in Detention in the Adult System :

This frequently asked questions resource is intended to clarify both eligibility for and logistical access to Chafee pandemic relief funds in California for young people in a variety of detention settings. It is important for advocates to be aware that many young people who are currently detained are still eligible for these funds, but may need assistance applying.

Additional Resources

The LA County Financial Navigators program is currently providing LA residents with free assistance to help them deal with financial challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. You can access this program by completing the short request form here. The call center is also available to provide assistance in completing the form at (800) 593-8222.

Check for Us, a national outreach campaign, aims to connect current and former foster youth to pandemic relief funds. For further information, please visit their website here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to attend my upcoming Dependency Court hearing?

Starting March 17, 2020, all Los Angeles County courtrooms, including Dependency Court, will be closed for three (3) days. The Los Angeles Superior Court will reopen on Friday, March 20, 2020, for the limited purpose of hearing or handing essential or emergency matters, in Criminal, Civil, Probate, Family Law and Dependency/Juvenile cases. Call your attorney if you have any questions. Visit lacourt.org for latest updates. [Source]

I am a foster youth and my caregiver is denying visits with my family due to COVID-19. What should I do? 

Despite the current public health situation, you still are entitled to your rights as a foster youth including access to medical care; right to contact family members, your county social worker, attorney, CASA or other advocate; and right to education and social contacts. Read more about Foster Youth Rights

Will a child in foster care still receive a monthly visit by a social worker? How are home visits changing in response to COVID-19?  

Section 422(b)(17) of the Social Security Act requires caseworkers to visit children in foster care on a monthly basis and, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, these visits were required to be held face-to-face.  In response to the pandemic, the Administration of Children and Families has revised the policy on face-to-face visits to allow for videoconferencing.  While it is imperative that caseworkers continue to ensure the well-being of children in care, ACF clarified that the imperative must be balanced against the health of caseworkers, children in care, and all of the people with whom they come into contact.  Thus, while there has been no change in the policy that every child must receive a monthly visit, those visits can now occur through online conference platforms like Skype, FaceTime or Zoom.  [Source: Child Welfare Policy Manual (CWPM), §7.3, question #8]

How should a caseworker determine if a monthly visitation with children/youth needs to occur in person or via videoconferencing?

In order to minimize the transmission of COVID-19, and given the State’s “stay at home” order, some face-to-face caseworker visits may not be possible at this time. Whether a monthly visit should occur in person is a child-specific decision that must be made based on the training and experience of the social worker and considering all available information. Counties should begin by assessing the individual needs of families and children. This assessment of need should start with a call to every family to ensure they have what they need to meet the needs of the children in their care. Factors to consider when determining if a face-to-face visit is necessary during this public health state of emergency include the following:

  • Is the child being visited by other professionals, tribal representatives and/or mandated reporters during this time period and the caseworker can receive an updated report from those professionals and/or reporters regarding the child?
  • Has the child been in the same placement for the last 4 months and the caseworker has determined that the placement is stable, without any concerns noted?
  • Has the child been seen in person by a Foster Family Agency (FFA) social worker within the last 14 days with no concerns reported?
  • Is the child in an STRTP or group home (in-state or out-of-state) and receiving ongoing treatment with a mental health professional, as well as on-site case management by the agency staff?
  • Has the child been visited by their case manager in each of the prior three months with no concerns noted regarding the placement?
  • The chronological and developmental age of the child, as young children and children with developmental delays or disabilities may not be able to verbalize or otherwise communicate needs and safety issues remotely. [ Source ]

How can non-minor dependents (NMDs) complete their monthly visitation visit with their caseworkers if the NMD does not have a phone or computer?

If the youth does not have a telephone or computer, it is imperative that case workers make arrangements to ensure the youth’s needs are met and there is a way to contact the youth. Regardless of what method is utilized for monthly visits, case workers shall ensure that NMDs have proper resources and a plan developed for following local public health guidance, including, but not limited to: housing, food, water, hygiene, and other needed items. This applies to both NMDs in California and to those living out of state.

iFoster is currently offering technology access to foster youth ages 13-24, which includes: free, unlimited high-speed data hotspots, headsets, and laptops to assist in taking online classes. For additional information on available resources, call or email iFoster at: 1-855-936-7837 or phone@ifoster.org. [ Source ]

Will Child and Family Team (CFT) meetings occur during the “stay at home” order?

Yes. CFT meetings are an essential strategy for ensuring that families and providers can continue caring for children and to provide a way for the county to learn of the emotional and practical needs of the children and families during this time. When it is not possible or advisable to conduct meetings in person, meetings may be conducted using alternative options, including using videoconference or teleconference technology (with several free options, such as Skype, Zoom, or freeconferencecall.com available).

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) recommends that counties prioritize holding CFT meetings focused on the immediate and contingency planning needs of children in home-based placements and in congregate care placements at risk of placement disruption or who may be particularly significantly impacted by disruptions related to COVID-19. CDSS also recommends that, in less urgent circumstances, counties communicate with the child’s team to ensure the family understands how to request assistance or a team meeting if challenges arise. [ Source ]

Can a parent process an adoption relinquishment with an agency via videoconference call during the “stay at home” order?

No. Agencies should not accept relinquishments, or give any corresponding advisements, via alternate means (i.e., videoconference or telephonically), due to the sensitive nature of relinquishments.

In the event that a county child welfare agency is contacted by a parent who wishes to relinquish their non-dependent child for adoption, counties may consider entering into a voluntary placement agreement and postponing the acceptance of relinquishments until face-to-face visits resume.

When agencies accept relinquishments, California statute and regulations require that two witnesses observe the birth parent signing the relinquishment in-person and that birth parents receive appropriate counseling and advisement prior to signing the relinquishment. These requirements should also be conducted in accordance with and local public health recommendations or directives, including social distancing. [Source]

Will DCFS still host resource parent trainings during this time?

DCFS has postponed all in-person trainings for resource parents and caregivers. For more information, please call your social worker, the Resource Family Approval (RFA) warm line at (877) 323-7165 or visit the DCFS COVID-19 Updates page. [Source]

If a child is placed in an emergency placement during the statewide “stay at home” order, what are the available options if live scan services are not available?

In the event of an emergency placement made pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code Sections 309 or 361.45, families are generally required to submit their fingerprints for background checks within 10 days of receiving the emergency placement of a child or within five business days of receiving the emergency placement, whichever is sooner. If local live scan services are not available, the county may continue to rely on the results of the California Law Enforcement Telecommunication System (CLETs) for the maintenance of the placement. In instances when individuals who are required to live scan have been unable to live scan, those individuals should live scan within 15 days of when services are restored and the state “stay at home” order is lifted. [ Source ]

What changes have been made to the rules governing redeterminations of eligibility for benefits for children and families?  

On March 17, 2020, Governor Newsom signed Executive Order N-29-20 suspending redeterminations of eligibility for certain benefits program that many children and families rely on to meet their basic needs.  The Executive Order applies to benefits received through the following program:  

  • Medi-Cal; 
  • CalFresh; 
  • CalWORKs; 
  • Cash Assistance Program for immigrants, or  
  • In Home Supportive Services (IHSS).   

Pursuant to the Executive Order, families will not need to complete a redetermination of eligibility between March 17, 2020 through June 17, 2020. In other words, eligibility for assistance under these programs will continue until June 17, 2020 for all of these families. This will ensure that there is no disruption in health care services, food supports, cash assistance, or in-home assistance for these families during this crisis. [Source]

The Alliance for Children’s Rights protects the rights of impoverished, abused and neglected children and youth.

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