Foster Care Appreciation Month: Young Adults Formerly from Foster Care Need Support During the COVID19 Crisis
Governor Abbott Announces Phase One to Open Texas, Establishes Statewide Minimum Standard Health Protocols
texas department of State health services
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in monitoring the Coronavirus disease 2019. Hospitals, healthcare professional, local public health, community leaders and others can find resources throughout this website to help them in their response to COVID-19
Find new dashboard for tracking COVID-19 Cases per county here.
centers for disease control and protection
In the wake of Coronavirus, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released resources targeted to help a variety of groups and individuals in community organizations prevent and cope with the outbreak.
Texas Health and Human Services
For Texas HHSC's latest updates, monitor the following website.
Broadcast message to guide Intellectual and Developmental Disability and Behavioral Health Services Contracted Providers
HHSC COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line: People can call the Statewide COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week toll-free at 833-986-1919. English and Spanish fliers available to share.
Child Care Licensing (CCL) has provided additional clarification around background checks: If someone has had a fingerprint run on or after June 1, 2015, their fingerprints are stored in the FBI database and no new fingerprint checks are required, regardless of which regulated operation they worked at before. So if someone worked in a daycare operation or a residential operation and they had a fingerprint check done on or after 6/1/15, when the background check is submitted, it flows through the system. No fingerprint checks are needed. If someone was fingerprinted before 6/1/15, they will need a new fingerprint check. If someone works at an ISD, CCL can pull over their results for right now. That will change in the future, but for right now, we can get their results and no fingerprint is required.
Child Care Licensing Reference Information:
For an inventory of COVID-19 related Regulatory information, including Fingerprinting locations and variance guidance, please see this quick reference link.
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) recognizes many of you are working long hours to respond to the pressing demands related to the pandemic. This message provides a COVID-19 Provider Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document and a contract guidance document related to Substance Use and Misuse Prevention Services. Read more.
Texas WIC Expands Eligible Foods, Launches Updated App
Texas Health and Human Services announces Texas WIC, the special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children, is expanding the number of food items eligible for purchase through the program. It is also updating the MyTexasWIC app to ensure Texans who need access to nutritious food will be able to find it in their local grocery stores. Read more.
Texas Receives Approval for SNAP Online Grocery Purchases
Texas Health and Human Services recently received federal approval to allow Texans to purchase groceries online using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pilot program is expected to start by May 18 statewide. Read more.
TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF FAMILY AND PROTECTIVE SERVICES
- Minimum standards and contractor requirements still apply. To request a variance, the standard procedure is required.
- Superior STAR Health is reaching out to residential/foster caregivers to check in to see if they need assistance then patching through to specialized staff to assist. If you need help making medical appointments or have questions related to the healthcare needs of children you're serving, please take advantage of this Superior call to ask for help.
- DFPS Well-Being Specialists are calling all caregivers of children who have complex medical needs starting Monday of next week to make sure they have medication they need, specialized equipment, or any questions related to medical services.
- Regarding youth in care or who have transitioned out of care, Texas universities have informed DFPS that student housing will remain open for this population. They are working on the best way to have meals available. Please contact DFPS is you have any questions or if you're aware of youth who need support
- Notice of Upcoming PEI Provider Guidance Regarding COVID-19
Statewide Intake Screens Intakes for Coronavirus Risk
To better protect our caseworkers, Statewide Intake is now asking questions about COVID-19 of every caller making a report. Answers to these questions will be documented in the narrative, and the narrative template will be updated to include these questions:
1) Has anyone involved in the report had significant exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19?
2) In the past few days, has anyone involved in the report felt unwell, especially with respiratory symptoms (cough, fever, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing)?
SWI began asking these questions at 5 p.m. Tuesday March 17, and this practice will continue as long as it is considered necessary. Intake Specialists also began tracking reports that mentioned COVID-19 on March 5, with 41 documented through March 19.
CPS Virtual Visits
Please see these updated information from CPS regarding virtual visits and tips for maintaining family connections, a high priority. CPS is encouraging their staff and foster care organizations to be creative and flexible, while focusing on safety, health and permanency.
Information Regarding Tracking COVID-19 Expenses
With the state and the nation responding to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic in a variety of ways, we are incredibly thankful to all our partners for continuing our mission and responsibility to the state and the individuals we serve. Read more.
In the event of needing to test a child for COVID-19
CPS has created a mailbox for you to use to report when a child in your care receives COVID-19 testing and to report on the results of such testing. Based on this information, Superior will follow up with you to provide additional support and the CPS caseworker will be notified: firstname.lastname@example.org
CANS Assessment Changes for Children in Conservatorship
The CANS 2.0 assessment that DFPS uses is now available via telehealth for children and youth in conservatorship aged 3 years through 17 years. It has been expanded to all ages as of today (3/25/2020). To get a telehealth CANS 2.0, call Mosaic (a program within Pathways Youth and Family Services which has been doing the telehealth CANS 2.0 for STAR Health to date). Mosaic will screen the caller to discuss access to the needed equipment and the need for a private location. Mosaic will schedule the appointment. After the appointment is scheduled, Mosaic will provide the medical consenter with steps to access the secure portal and link to be used at the designated appointment time. If you need assistance or have any questions, please contact STAR Health Member Services at 866-912-6283. Learn more about tele-health options below.
Update to DFPS Contract Monitoring Activities in Regards to COVID-19
In our ongoing effort to support you, we are further temporarily scaling back our monitoring activities. In a notice to you dated March 24, 2020, DFPS provided information on modified activities impacting providers, which included the notice that monitoring visits would be performed through desk reviews. In order to allow you to focus on the well-being of children in your care and other essential operational tasks during this time, DFPS is further revising that requirement by stopping all desk reviews on the specialized monitoring plan effective immediately through April 30, 2020.
Overnight supervision checks will continue as previously described. Facilities will be called prior to visits in order to evaluate the current health status of children, youth and staff at the facility. DFPS staff will follow social distancing guidelines and practice other safety measures to reduce the risk of infection while on site. Additionally, the streamlined incentives and remedies activities we previously discussed will continue.
Thank you for your continued commitment to the children you serve, particularly through this unprecedented time. We are very grateful for you and the service you provide our most vulnerable children and families.
Prevention Early Intervention Resources for Providers
The COVID-19 event continues to affect families statewide. Strengthening families and communities has never been more important than it is right now. PEI is here to help. Learn more.
texas department of Emergency Management
If your organization has unmet needs and need help, the Texas Department of Emergency Management (TDEM) is in full operation. The local TDEM coordinators are a local point of contact for your urgent, unmet needs. More information and how to contact can be found online here.
Texas Children's Commission
Following the Supreme Court of Texas two recent Emergency Orders, the Childrens Commission has developed a webpage to share information and resources related to COVID-19 and its effects on child protection cases. The webpage also has a list of court orders by county.
texas education agency
Texas parents can now visit the TXSchools.gov MealFinder Map to find locations near them where local school systems are offering free school meals both breakfast and lunch for pick-up while school buildings are closed because of the novel coronavirus.
The following rule actions were filed with the Texas Register for publication in the March 27, 2020 issue:
Adopted New 19 TAC Chapter 89, Adaptations for Special Populations, Subchapter FF, Commissioner's Rules Concerning Transition Assistance for Highly Mobile Students Who Are Homeless or in Substitute Care
Summary: The adopted new rules assist with the transition of students who are homeless or in substitute care from one school to another and provide local education agencies with guidance on the requirements of Texas Education Code, 25.007. The new rules were adopted with changes since published as proposed.
Effective Date: March 30, 2020
Please see the TEA website to view adopted commissioner of education rules.
Unforeseen circumstances may delay publication of the agency rules in the Texas Register. The Rules website will be updated to reflect any changes.
The TEA has launched a webpage designed to provide at-home learning resources for parents, teachers and children - including students who receive special education services in school.
THE FAMILIES FIRST CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE ACT
We want to keep you informed on foster parent employment as we are aware many of your families are experiencing hardships and uncertainties during this time. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act includes an emergency paid leave benefit that would be available to foster parents who had to stay home as a result of school closure. See details below on current benefits that would pay salaries with a maximum monthly benefit. On March 16th, 2020 the U.S. House of Representatives passed technical corrections to H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The revised bill is a rewrite of the original bill containing the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act. The FFCRA was signed on March 18th by President Trump- and it will be effective on APril 2nd and sunset on December 31, 2020.
Employees will also be eligible for leave at a reduced rate to care for a family member or for the care of a child whose school has closed. Congress is likely to delve into a third coronavirus bill that would focus beyond this immediate deal. The next package will likely target some of the hardest-hit industries and small businesses, targeted tax refunds to more general populations to put dollars back into the economy, and targeted human services relief to programs not addressed in this package.
The current version of the bill:
- Limits the amount of paid sick leave to 80 hours or a 2-week period for part-time workers for:
-leave due to the employees own illness or quarantine (maximum of $511 per day or $5,110 in the aggregate); or
-care for another individual who is sick or quarantined, or time need due to a school or child care closure (maximum of $200 per day or $2000 in the aggregate)
- Limits the amount of paid family leave to 12 weeks (with the first 10 days unpaid) at 2/3 of their regular rate of pay, up to $200 per day ($10,000 in the aggregate), and restricts the purpose to leave for a school or child care closure.
Federal Stimulus Bill - CARES Act Highlights
This bill was signed by the President on March 27th and is the largest relief bill ever passed in the U.S at approximately $2.2 trillion.
Changes to New Paid Sick Leave Mandates. Lowers the amount that employers must pay for paid sick and family leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act that was enacted last week to the amounts covered by the refundable payroll tax credit (i.e. $511 per day for sick leave or $200 per day for family leave).
Medicaid Exclusion Successfully Removed. If you were on the TACFS all member call on Tuesday you heard that there was originally a provision in the legislation that would have prohibited any nonprofit that receives or is eligible for Medicaid reimbursement from getting access to these critical loans. Luckily it was removed!
Small Business Loans for 500 or less employees. Provides funding for special emergency loans of up to $10 million for eligible nonprofits to cover payroll, operations, debt services, etc. Loans can be forgiven, in whole, for organizations that maintain employment from March 1-June 30, essentially turning the loan into a grant. Loans can cover payroll and associated costs, health insurance premiums, facilities costs, and debt service.
Loans Disbursed through Any Government-Backed Lender. An application through SBA is not necessary. Any major lenders should be able to start making loans within one to two weeks of final passage of the bill.
Access to SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL). These grants are available now, and the CARES bill adds more money into them. Nonprofits and other eligible applicants can get checks for $10,000 within three days (and eventually up to $2 million in loans). The CARES Act eliminates creditworthiness requirements and appropriates an additional $10 billion into the program. Most likely, organizations cannot participate in both EIDL and SBA 7a and will have to choose one or the other
Access to Loans for organizations with 500-10,000 employees. New loans were added for mid-size nonprofits which would provide loans with a two percent interest rate to organizations with 500-10,000 employees. The funds received must be used to retain at least 90 percent of the recipient's workforce, with full compensation and benefits, through Sept 30, 2020. The loans would not accrue interest or require any payments for the first six months.
Charitable Giving. Allows for a $300 above-the-line tax deduction for charitable giving, eligible to both itemizers and non-itemizers alike. This is not a permanent provision and will expire at the end of tax year 2020.
New Employee Retention Payroll Tax Credit. Creates a refundable payroll tax credit of up to $5,000 for each employee on the payroll when certain conditions are met. Entity needs to prove it has realized a drop in revenue of at least 50 percent in the first quarter of 2020 compared to first quarter 2019. Note that employers receiving emergency SBA 7a loans will NOT be eligible for these tax credits.
Direct Payments to Adults & Families. Adults making $99,000 or less (based on 2018 or 2019 tax return) will be eligible for direct payments of $1,200 or less and $500 per child ($3,400 for a family of four), to be sent out in the coming weeks. The amount of payments phases out based on earnings between $75,000 and $99,000
Key Information: The CARES Act passed by Congress directs payments to lower- and middle-income Americans. Individuals get $1,200, and married couples get $2,400$500 per qualifying child younger than 17. You have until July 15, 2020 to file your 2019 tax return.
Social Security recipients do not have to apply for the stimulus check, they will also receive it automatically. The schedule for check release will be:
Taxpayers with income up to $10,000: April 24
Taxpayers with income up to $20,000: May 1
Taxpayers with income up to $40,000: May 15
The rest of the checks will be issued by gradually increasing income increments each week. Households earning $198,000 who file jointly will get their reduced checks on September 4. The last group of checks will be sent on Sept. 11 to those who didnt have tax information on file and had to apply for checks.
U.S. Department Of Labor Announces New Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave Implementation :the U.S. Department of Labor announced new action regarding how American workers and employers will benefit from the protections and relief offered by the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, both part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act ( FFCRA). Read more.
Mission Capitol has created a chart of the various loans nonprofits are eligible to receive that were created due to passage of the federal CARES Act which is the $2 trillion stimulus bill that was signed by the President last week. Click here to view this easy to read chart.
Attention Small Business Owners: Please see this guide from the US Chamber of Commerce with information on eligibility and applying for the federal loans available through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security
The TACFS team is busy analyzing this significant piece of legislation. And see here an info sheet provided by the Department of Labor. Please reach out to us with any questions, and we will continue to provide you with information as we learn more.
Extended Medicaid Act
Federal law passed on March 18, 2020, provides financial support for states that agree to extend Medicaid coverage for clients who were enrolled on that date through the end of the COVID-19 emergency. This affects children and families currently served by DFPS, regardless of the stage of service.
This information is being shared with you as it may be helpful to children and families worried about medical coverage to know of this extension. Medicaid for Permanency Care Assistance (PCA), Adoption Assistance (AA), and Former Foster Care Children (FFCC) will be extended if the age of the youth reaches the end of eligibility during the COVID-19 crisis. Children exiting foster care to AA, PCA, or FFCC will continue to transition as normal. Children exiting foster care to family reunification or permanency with a relative, who would otherwise not automatically transition to other Medicaid coverage, will be provided extended Medicaid eligibility during the COVID-19 emergency.
Save Organizations that Serve America Act (SOS)
On March 27, Reps. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) introduced the Save Organizations that Serve (SOS) America Act, which proposes providing nonprofits on the front lines of this pandemic with:
additional $60 billion in financial support,
eliminating the 500-employee cap on Small Business Administration loans and loan forgiveness for nonprofits, and,
improving the above-the-line universal charitable deduction by eliminating the cap and allowing taxpayers to claim deductions for 2019, 2020, and future taxes.
We will keep you posted on the status of this legislation. Our team is busy discussing additional funding needs with Congressional offices.
Stimulus Checks for Kinship Caregivers
Congressman Danny Davis (D-IL) updated a guide for kinship caregivers on COVID-19 stimulus payments last week with several updates from the IRS. If you support kinship families during this time, feel free to utilize the information in this guide.
Congress reaches deal on $480 billion package to help small businesses and expand COVID-19 testing
While the final text has not been released publicly, we have been told a new deal has been agreed upon by Congress with support from the President. Once passed by Congress, it should be signed by the President later this week. This new piece of legislation will add:
$310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program and small business loans, bringing the total authorized aid to $659 billion;
$60 billion for smaller lending facilities, including minority depository institutions, certified development companies and credit unions;
$10 billion for grants under the Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loan program;
$50 billion for disaster recovery loans;
$2.1 billion for additional salaries and expenses for the Small Business Administration;
$75 billion for hospitals and health care providers to support for Covid-19 expenses and lost revenue from canceled elective surgeries and other procedures;
$25 billion for research to develop, validate, manufacture, purchase and administer Covid-19 tests, including $11 billion for states to expand lab capacity;
$6 million to cover Health and Human Services inspector general oversight.
Senate Democrats unveiled a "Heroes Fund" on Tuesday, April 7. The legislation would create a federally funded program that would allow a $25,000 premium pay increase for essential workers (equivalent to additional $13 an hour). It would also pay for a $15,000 worker recruitment incentive grant to workers. Employers in industries considered "essential work" would apply to the federal fund for federal dollars to be used to add line-item premium pay to employees' or independent contractors' paychecks. The definition of "essential frontline workers" has not yet been defined.
Videos and Podcasts
other helpful videos/ resources:
Online Page for Parents and Caregivers to help with Resources, Needs and Overall Coping hosted by DFPS's Prevention Early Intervention Division
Just human productions: Epidemic With Dr. Celine Gounder and Ronald Klain
Ride home media: Coronavirus Daily Briefing
Mental, Behavioral and tele-health
Meadows Mental Health and Policy Institute COVID-19 Response Briefings: Personal Protective Equipment and the Behavioral Health Workforce
TACFS has joined forces with our mental health partners to represent the need to support a strong and stable mental health and child welfare workforce during the COVID-19 response. The need includes access to personal protective equipment (PPE). We hope to help equip staff working directly with children and youth with serious emotional needs with protective equipment that will allow them to continue to serve during this stressful time. Learn more here.
To access Meadows Mental Health and Policy Institute's COVID page, click here.
Article Source: CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services)
On March 22nd, the Trump Administration released new tools to strip away regulatory red tape and unleash new resources to support state Medicaid and Childrens Health Insurance Programs (CHIP) during the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.The four tools CMS is announcing today will permit states to access emergency administrative relief, make temporary modifications to Medicaid eligibility and benefit requirements, relax rules to ensure that individuals with disabilities and the elderly can be effectively served in their homes, and modify payment rules to support health care providers impacted by the outbreak. Keep Reading.
Article Source: TACFS
With the current global health crisis and the recommendation for social distancing, community agencies will begin using technology to provide services remotely to the children and families they serve. Professionals have been providing virtual case management services, mental health and some aspects of child welfare services virtually for many years. Many research studies have been conducted supporting its effectiveness. The following are a few factors to keep in mind while making the transition from face to face contact to virtual communication. Read more.
Article Source: STARHealth / Superior HealthPlan
Information related to electronic CANS and to help support providers through the CANS billing process is available through Superior. Providers can also email email@example.com with any questions related to CANS. Learn more.
Source: Texas e-Health Alliance
Digital tools are invaluable in responding to a public health emergency. Just like we did during Hurricane Harvey, the Texas e-Health Community is deeply engaged in responding to Coronavirus (COVID-19). Keep Reading.
Article Source: STARHelath / Superior HealthPlan
Superior HealthPlan has developed a Telemedicine Quick Reference Chart to help providers navigate Telemedicine and Telehealth reimbursement. This chart reflects Medicares waiver of the geographic and place of service restrictions for Medicare. Learn more.
Article Source: National Wraparound Implementation Center
The purpose of this document is to review key elements of the Wraparound process practice model and potential modifications that may be necessary to effectively support young people and families participating in Wraparound during COVID-19, while also adhering to public health and safety standards. At the end of this document, we also summarize several federal measures designed to facilitate access to virtual care that may be helpful. Learn more.
Article Source: Texas Department of Insurance
The state is taking steps to expand the use of telemedicine to help doctors across Texas treat their patients and limit the spread of coronavirus COVID-19. The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) filed an emergency rule requiring insurers to pay the same amount for telemedicine services, including covered mental health services, as they do for in-person services. Learn more.
STarhealth: Contact Information for Community Providers
You can call the 24-hour nurse advice line to get answers to health questions. You can also receive 24/7 telehealth access to doctors on-demand by phone or video for non-emergency medical issues through Teladoc. For additional information, please contact Member Services:
STAR or CHIP - 1-800-783-5386
STAR Kids - 1-844-590-4883
STAR Health (Foster Care) - 1-866-912-6283
STAR+PLUS - 1-877-277-9772
Ambetter from Superior HealthPlan - 1-877-687-1196
Information related to electronic CANS and to help support providers through the CANS billing process is available through Superior. Providers can also email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions related to CANS. The STAR Health website has more information on CANS 2.0
Additional STARHealth Resources
Urgent Care for Kids
Urgent Care for Kids is offering no copay for telemedicine visits and Medicaid is accepted. If you would like more information or to schedule a telemedicine visit, please visit their website.
For urgent or emergency dental issues, continue to access dental health care as previously done and follow dental health professional recommendations. For ongoing routine dental checkups, the requirement for six month healthy checks are suspended until further notice.
The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) has partnered with the Institute of Innovation and Implementation at the University of Maryland in Baltimore to bring this (FREE) opportunity: A Conversation on Supporting Families During COVID-19 (Thursday, 9th April 2020), along with A Conversation on Residential Intervention During COVID-19 (Friday, 10th April 2020). BBI has also listed resources on their new BBI website in an effort to link you to accurate information to support your efforts.
We know many organizations are still looking for protective supplies. We will pass along known, but not tested, resources as they become available to us. Printglobe is an Austin-based company that has supported the TACFS conference. They are now providing COVID-19 related supplies. See these links for more information:
Hand Sanitizer and Antibacterial, Print Globe
Paycheck Protection Program. Download our powerpoint here.
Google, Facebook, JP Morgan and Amazon have announced business and personal loans and grants. Find instructions on how to apply here.
April 12, Abbott announced that Goldman Sachs and the LiftFund, along with other community development financial institutions (CDFIs), are partnering to provide $50 million in loans to small businesses in Texas that have been affected by COVID-19 as part of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. Business owners can apply for this Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and find more information about the program on the LiftFund website. For more information about the PPP or 7a loans requirements and benefits, click here to view our teams write-up.
prevention Early intervention
Currently it is permitted with caution. PEI asks that you follow public health guidance.
Yes, but know that it has to come out of your pre-existing budget. You can repurpose funds for this. Work with your contract manager to make those budget shifts.
At this time- yes. We do know that some operations that conduct fingerprinting for FBI background checks have ceased operations and Child Care Licensing is continuing to monitor that.
Yes. Organizations are working to plan those trainings virtually.
Yes, at this time they are required. Some states are waiving these visits and moving them to virtual visits, but not in Texas. The federal government is allowing these visits to be virtual.
Yes, these are contractual requirements that are still required. If you are unable to secure an appointment for any reason, please document that. Please dial member services at
Notify DFPS and contact a medical professional for next steps.
Yes, organizations should be tracking those costs.