On Wednesday, April 15, 2020, the Children Bureau provided flexibility for federal requirements regarding the criminal background checks and monthly caseworker visits in the child’s residence due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the letter, Milner stated:
“In light of the extraordinary circumstances related to the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic and nationwide public health emergency, we received requests for flexibility in meeting two specific federal requirements that we address in this letter:

• The fingerprint-based criminal record check requirements of §471(a)(20)(A), (C), and (D) of the Social Security Act (the Act).
• The requirement that 50 percent of monthly caseworker visits be in the child’s residence pursuant to §424(f)(2)(A) of the Act (for states only).”

He remarked that the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act) “allows federal agencies that administer federal assistance programs may modify or waive administrative conditions of federal assistance programs under certain limited circumstances.” Under the Stafford Act, child welfare agencies can proceed with name-based criminal background checks for prospective foster parents, adoptive parents, and workers in child care institutions. Also, the Children’s Bureau provides flexibility with the requirements that 50 percent of all caseworker visits must occur in the residence of the child to video conferencing during this pandemic.