On Friday, April 17, 2020, Associate Commissioner Jerry Milner highlighted the challenges surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and the health and human services systems inability to conduct services in the traditional approach. Milner’s letter to child welfare leaders urges them to collaborate with their governors and “to work with their emergency management and public health leadership to have child welfare workers and services providers classified as Level 1 emergency responders and, thus, have greater access to PPE.” In addition, Milner shared that the Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services, Eric Hargan, sent a letter encouraging all governors with the request above.

Additional guidance from Associate Commissioner Milner include the following:

• On Friday, April 17, 2020, the Children’s Bureau released a letter to the child welfare field on allowable use of funds during the national emergency for the purchase of cell phones and other tools to facilitate or maintain contact with children and youth in foster care and their parents and the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

• 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.

• On Tuesday, April 14, 2020, the Children’s Bureau released new guidance highlighting and strongly encouraging court leaders to engage Court Improvement Programs (CIPs) in assisting dependency courts to respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Also, the Capacity Building Center for Courts developed a tool for Conducting Effective Remote Hearings in Child Welfare Cases.