The foster care system has been heavily impacted by COVID-19 due to school closures and social isolation which puts added pressure on state and local agencies responsible for the welfare of those children at risk and in need Gov. Gavin Newsom noted in his daily COVID-19 press conference.
“Every child deserves to grow up in a safe, stable and nurturing environment free from fear, abuse, and neglect,” he said. “Our foster youth and the families who care for them need our support to get through this difficult time. We’re ramping up funding on initiatives that keep families together and support the social workers who provide critical services to help families thrive.”
Because of the uniqueness of the pandemic, the Governor noted that he has requested additional $42 million in funding for minors in the state’s foster system, especially those who are soon to be emancipated, those at high risk for abuse, and foster families who will require additional assistance.
The funding of $42 million, of which $40.6 million is derived from the state’s general fund with an additional $1.4 million in federal funds is allocated to be invested in programs over the next three months will support foster youth and reduce child abuse.
According to a breakdown of expenditures provided by Newsom’s office Monday afternoon, funding will include:
Supporting Families Struggling to Stay Together – $27,842,000
A $200 per month supplement to families in the Emergency Response and Family Maintenance programs and who need additional support to be able to stay together.
Additional Social Worker Outreach – $6,896,552
Support for social worker overtime and additional outreach by county social workers to foster family caregivers at higher risk of COVID-19 (e.g. caregivers who are over 60 years old). Social workers will engage these caregivers to identify specific needs or concerns.
Family Resource Centers – $3,000,000
Family Resource Centers play a critical role in preventing child abuse and neglect, strengthening children and families, and connecting families to an array of county support systems of care. This funding will provide direct support and services to foster families, including material items, assistance with isolation needs, parenting resources, and staff time to help link families to other state and federal supports (e.g. food, housing, etc.).
Expansion of Helplines – $250,000
Funds will assist 2-1-1 and Parents Anonymous to offer immediate assistance to families in crisis who are seeking assistance. Parents Anonymous will provide expanded hours of services, link parents to online support groups and will make referrals to county and local services and Family Resource Centers as needed.
Age Extension for Foster Youth – $1,846,165
Approximately 200 young adults age out of the foster care system every month. Too many of them are at risk of homelessness and food insecurity. During this crisis, foster care payments and eligibility will be extended to help them maintain their living arrangements and to provide food security.
Additional Support for Resource Families Impacted by COVID-19 – $1,728,655
Families impacted by COVID-19 can receive higher monthly reimbursement rates to cover the extra costs associated with supporting children with more complex needs. Flexibility for counties to use these reimbursement rates will make sure that foster children can stay in their homes and not be moved into shelters or other facilities.
Extended Time-frame for Caregiver Approvals – $166,000
Funding will allow caregivers to continue to be paid beyond 365 days while awaiting Resource Family Approval. The extension in funding is required due to delays in caregiver approvals and caseworker diversion to emergency work.
Access to Technology – $313,128
iFoster, a Truckee, California- based non-profit, will give more foster youth access to cell phones and laptops so they can stay connected with their families and communities, and continue to participate in educational opportunities during this crisis. This will allow the purchase of 2,000 laptops and 500 cell phones and will provide for short-term staffing assistance to iFoster to help process the applications and get phones configured and shipped to foster youth quickly.
Newsom is also directing the state Government Operations Agency to utilize the State Surplus Property Program to identify laptops that can be distributed to foster youth attending higher education.
Newsom also addressed the status of cases in California as of Monday noting that there had been a slight increase of ICU cases, 1, 178, a 2.9% rise in a twenty-four hour period. Hospitalizations were also a slight increase with 3,015. Newsom also noted that the state had administered 22,348 tests that had shown positive for the virus. There was also an uptick in the mortality rate with 725 Californians who had died.
In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti together with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, (LACDPH) extended the City’s Safer at Home order through May 15th. Non-essential businesses and activities will remain closed, and physical distancing and face coverings for workers and customers will continue to be required.
Additionally, the City of Los Angeles is joining the County in requiring non-medical essential businesses that are open to the public to complete a social distancing protocol form for each of their facilities. This document will contain a checklist of social distancing, hygiene and public health requirements for each business.
The protocol form must be posted at or near the entrance to each business, and must be distributed to each employee, no later than 11:59 PM on April 15. Note: Copies of the Protocol, form is available for download here.
LACDPH on Monday confirmed 25 new deaths and 239 new cases of COVID-19. According to officials, this is the smallest increase in new cases since March 26th. Over the last 48 hours, there have been 562 new cases. Two deaths were reported by the City of Long Beach.
LACDPH to date has identified 9,420 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of LA County, and a total of 320 deaths.
West Hollywood’s City government sent out a press statement on Monday informing residents that the City will present an informational webinar on the Residential Eviction Moratorium on Tuesday, April 14, 2020 at 2 p.m. The webinar will be presented by City Staff. The WeHo City Council recently passed a temporary moratorium on evictions for nonpayment of rent resulting from a financial impact due to COVID-19.
This 60-minute webinar focusing on tenants and landlords will provide information regarding the City’s temporary moratorium as well as resources for tenants and landlords during this time. The release cautioned that “This webinar is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice; rather, all information, content and materials available on this webinar are for general informational purposes only. Participants of this webinar should contact their attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter.”
Interested participants are able to register here.
The city also reminded residents that it is urging community members to continue to follow the LA County Department of Public Health’s revised Safer At Home Order. The Order will remain in effect until May 15, 2020, and may be extended. The City of West Hollywood is in the jurisdiction of Los Angeles County.