State Agency Updates: COVID-19 Response
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
- FBI Finger Print Process Details: IdentoGO Locations Affected by COVID-19
- Houston Area Fingerprint Enrollment Centers, a letter from CCL
Variance and Waiver Guidance from CCL:
Child Care Regulation (CCR) continues to receive questions and concerns about the challenges you face in meeting certain regulations during this time. CCR encourages you to consider the following questions before submitting a waiver or variance request:
Are you unable to meet the regulation now? Or are you concerned that you may be unable to meet the regulation in the future?
For example, are you unable to meet ratio requirements right now? Or, do you anticipate a staff shortage in the future? Due to the volume of requests, CCR has to prioritize reviewing and approving requests in which there is a current need. CCR requests that you do not submit a request for regulations that you are still able to meet even if you anticipate you may not be able to meet compliance in the future. Submit the variance request when you are certain you are unable to meet a requirement.
Is the regulation you are unable to meet a statutory requirement?
CCR is not authorized to approve waiver or variance requests for regulations derived from statute. Examples include requirements for background checks, affidavits, fire inspections, TB testing, and immunizations.
Other than background check requirements, document your best efforts to comply with each requirement and maintain this documentation in the appropriate record. Do not submit a variance request as CCR cannot approve the request.
You must continue to comply with all background check requirements.
Child Care Regulation will consider approving variances for the following requirements (please note this is not an exhaustive list, but topics that have come up the most):
CCR will consider variances related to Emergency Behavior Intervention (EBI) training, First Aid and CPR, and annual training. CCR will consider whether the training is initial or recertification training and how many other staff are fully trained and qualified. Someone who has not received training in EBI may not perform an EBI.
Medical and Dental Visits
CCR will consider blanket variances for your operation for annual or routine medical and dental checkups for children due for a checkup between March-May with a condition that the visit occur between June-July. CCR will consider variances on a case-by-case basis for medical and dental visits for new admissions.
CCR will consider variances on a case-by-case basis for ratio. You must be able to demonstrate a staff shortage before CCR will approve a variance for ratio. CCR will consider whether you have requested other variances related to training or staff qualifications when deciding whether to approve or deny the request.
Foster Home Screening
CCR will consider variances for visits to a prospective foster home as long as your operation has already conducted at least one visit to the home, is a relative home, or the home is transferring from another CPA and is in good standing. Additional visits and interviews may be conducted virtually. You must demonstrate the urgency in completing the home screening process before the end of May.
Adoptive Home Visits
CCR will consider variances for adoptive home visits with the same conditions as for monthly foster home supervisory visits. This includes conducting the visits virtually.
- 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: email@example.com
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.