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Children who are in the custody of the state Children, Youth and Families Department will have less direct contact during visits with caseworkers and foster parents as a precautionary measure to avoid the spread of COVID-19, CYFD spokeswoman Melody Wells said Friday.
CYFD caseworker visits with kids in foster care will take place by video conferencing wherever possible, she said.
In-person visits with children and youth with their biological families are court mandated and will continue. “But all will be screened in advance by phone for any type of risk of exposure to COVID,” Wells said. “Where there is a risk, then we’ll be working with the courts to figure out what to do.”
This might include rescheduling visits, video conferencing or temporarily stopping visits.
Beginning Monday, most CYFD offices will be closed to walk-in visitors. In exceptional cases where client visitations must take place in offices, those visits will be scheduled with CYFD staff, those involved will be screened in advance by phone, offices will be sanitized before and after every visit, and only one family may be present at a time.
Unfortunately, there is presently no video conferencing capability at juvenile justice facilities, Wells said. “So those visits will have to be done by phone.
However, video conferencing will be done for kids in youth shelters and treatment centers, as well as for kids in CYFD custody in out-of-state group facilities, who will be contacted no less than twice a week, she said.
“Juvenile probation workers will continue to conduct home visits with kids on probation, but making sure they don’t come within six feet of the kids,” Wells said.
CYFD Secretary Brian Blalock said in a statement Friday that while there is currently no increased danger for children, youth of their families, “CYFD is pursuing every opportunity possible to safely limit physical contact while maintaining connection.”