State Agency Updates: COVID-19 Response

TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF FAMILY AND PROTECTIVE SERVICES 

DFPS has created a web page with the latest updates on coronavirus

Licensing Updates: FBI FINGERPRINT LOCATIONS, VARIANCE GUIDANCE & MORE

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):

Training

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.

Ratio

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.




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. 

1) CPS In-Person Visits, July 2020 Update

2) FAQS for Virtual Visitation

3)  Maintaining Family Connections best practices tips and resources

CPS issues guidance to their staff regarding visits in FBSS and Family Reunification stages of service. Read more

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: dfpscovid19testreporting@dfps.state.tx.us 

In the subject line:

  • Childs name and Personal Identification Number (PID)

  • In your email, please include as much of the following information as possible:

  • Information about the child: Name, Date of Birth, Medicaid number, PID (if known)

  • CPS Caseworkers name

  • Address and type of placement 

  • Your name and contact information (phone number)

  • Date of Test and Testing site (if known)

  • Test results

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.


In an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19, Governor Abbott issued Executive Order GA-14 that limits social gatherings and in-person contact with people who are not in the same household, except where necessary to provide or obtain essential services. The work you do to support DFPS and address the needs of the children, youth and families is considered an essential service under the order. Recognized by the Texas Division of Emergency Management and adopted from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the list of services considered to comprise the essential critical workforce includes the following:

-Workers who support food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life for needy groups and individuals, including in-need populations.
-Public agency workers responding to abuse and neglect of children, elders, and dependent adults.
-Healthcare providers and Caregivers including social workers.


Because of this recognition, Executive Order GA-14 allows you to continue to serve the needs of children, youth and families. Additional information can also be found on the Texas Division of Emergency Management website. If you have any questions, please contact your Contract Manager.


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 89Adaptations for Special Populations, Subchapter FFCommissioner'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.