On Friday, November 20, 2020, the Children’s Bureau issued a letter to child welfare leaders permitting Title IV-E Prevention programs and services to be adapted to a virtual environment during the current emergency (COVID-19 pandemic). In the letter, Commissioner Jerry Milner outlines that under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, adaptation of evidence-based practices is an administrative condition that can be modified only during a major disaster.

Only services and programs that have been rated by the Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse with promising, supported, or well-supported practices or if a state designated an independent systemic review approved for transitional payments in their title IV-E prevention program 5-year plan by HHS are allowed.

Milner asserts:

“Thus, during the major disaster period, CB will allow title IV-E agencies to adapt programs and services that have been approved as part of the title IV-E agency’s Title IV-E Prevention Services Program Plan to a virtual environment to allow for children and families to receive necessary services without interruption and within public health guidelines. CB will only allow title IV-E agencies to adapt such programs and services to a virtual environment in situations where, absent the modification, such programs and services would not be available to families. In these cases, a virtual adaptation must be implemented in accordance with the version of program’ or service’s book, manual, or other available documentation that has been approved as part of the title IV-E agency’s Title IV-E Prevention Services Program Plan. CB strongly urges states to administer programs as designed, without adaptation, whenever possible.

This flexibility will enable tribes and states with approved title IV-E prevention plans to safely provide prevention programs and services under those plans to children, families, and communities served that otherwise would be unavailable due to office closures, stay-at-home orders, and other disaster related obstacles.” 

 This flexibility is contingent on the public health emergency and a major disaster declaration issued by the President; COVID 19 pandemic was extended through January 21, 2021.  The Children’s Bureau letters to child welfare leaders and COVID-19 resources, can be assessed here.