COVID-19

      

family & CAREGIVER RESOURCES



latest news 



Governor Abbott Issues Executive Order, Implements Statewide Essential Services and Activities Protocol

Mar 31 2020
Governor Greg Abbott today issued an Executive Order implementing Essential Serv...

Governor Abbott Extends Social Distancing Measures Through April 30; Closes schools until May 4

Mar 31 2020
Texans must adhere to social distancing statewide through April 30, Gov. Greg Ab...

Texas HHSC Launches Statewide COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line

Mar 31 2020
This new resource offers COVID-19-related mental health support for all Texans. ...

Saint Francis Issues Plea to Help Foster Agencies During COVID-19 Outbreak

Mar 30 2020
Saint Francis Ministries of Lubbock has issued a plea for assistance for assista...

Governor Abbott Adds Road Travelers from Louisiana to Coronavirus Quarantine

Mar 30 2020
Significantly expanding a mandatory quarantine order for travelers from coronavi...



AnchorPUBLIC HEALTH 


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.

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.

state agency updates


TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF FAMILY AND PROTECTIVE SERVICES 

DFPS has created a web page with the latest updates on coronavirus and will soon add FAQs. 

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) FAQS for Virtual Visitation
2) 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.

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 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.

federal news


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


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.


HHSC is posting updated Medicaid and CHIP COVID-19 information on its COVID-19 client and provider web pages.

CARES ACT Loans Now Open- APPLY NOW

The Paycheck Protection Program is officially open today and closes June 30, 2020. Applications are accepted on a first come, first serve basis. The federal government is advising borrowers to apply as soon as possible given the loan cap on the program. Please reach out to your financial or legal advisors if you have questions. Highlights of this loan include:

  • Loans to organizations with 500 employees or less

  • Loans can be applied to payroll, health benefits, paid sick and family leave, mortgage interest, rent utilities, debt interest

  • Loan Amount: The lesser of $10 million or 2.5 times the average total monthly payroll (including benefits) costs from the one-year period prior to the date of application.

  • Loans do not cover employees making over $100k a year.

  • Loan has the potential to turn into a grant if funds are used for the purposes outlined above and you meet conditions regarding maintaining employment levels.

  • Sample application is available here.

 

articles

Videos and Podcasts 

Three uncanny four: 

Ride home media:  

member resources


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.


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 txcans@centene.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: 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

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 txcans@centene.com with any questions related to CANS.  The STAR Health website has more information on CANS 2.0

And please see two articles that have been posted for providers around Telehealth.

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.

special partnership

Cloth Mask Orders: TACFS is proud to partner with Off Ramp, a nonprofit organization in Houston that serves refugees. Theyre providing opportunities for the refugees they serve to sew cloth masks to help support child welfare workers during this COVID-19 crisis. For information on the organization or for information on how to order, see here. They will fill mask orders as quickly as they can, and there are a number of orders in the queue. However, they really need your support so I hope that if you feel like cloth masks are appropriate for your organization, you will consider ordering from The Off Ramp. (Note: please read the information provided and online about the use of cloth masks prior to use.)

frequently asked questions



prevention Early intervention

residential

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 (866) 912-6283 to help schedule these visits.

general

We know the need for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) remains high. Another resource for accessing PPE may be the Regional Advisory Councils (RACs). Hospitals and medical centers are still the priority for PPE, organizations serving non-hospital behavioral health needs may also apply. Find a RAC contact list here

Otherwise, please reach out to TACFS at info@tacfs.org and/or DFPS to let us know your needs for PPE. We can elevate to the appropriate level. 

Yes. Health maintenance organizations (MCOs) must:

  • Pay in-network health professionals at least the same rate for telemedicine services as for in-person services, including covered mental health services.

  • Cover telemedicine services using any platform permitted by state law.

  • Not require more documentation for telemedicine services than they require for in-person services.

Governor Abbott also suspended a law limiting coverage for medical services or consultations by phone which requires insurers to pay for covered visits or consultations provided over the phone. In addition, the Texas Medical Board (TMB) issued guidance to allow health-care professionals to use phone consultations to establish a physician-patient relationship. Before the change, telemedicine services could be provided only after the physician-patient relationship had been established during an in-person visit