As we learn more about the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its immediate impacts, we are developing greater awareness of the potential far-reaching impacts it may have on different populations, systems, and geographies. While children and caregivers in the child welfare system will experience some of the same impacts as the general population, they may also experience issues that are unique to them and require solutions that are tailored to their unique circumstances. NICWA is working to research and distribute accurate information for tribal and urban Indian child welfare programs to inform and support your planning and programmatic response.
Below is some initial information to help your Indian child welfare program and the children and families that are part of that system.

Helping Keep Caregivers and Children Healthy

  • Check in with caregivers and children to encourage them to follow the basic practices that prevent COVID-19 exposure, such as social distancing, vigorous and repeated handwashing, staying home when you are sick, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces. CDC: How to Protect Yourself
  • Help caregivers and children develop a plan for their household: to reduce exposure to COVID-19, what they should do if someone in the household begins to show symptoms or becomes sick, and to identify additional supports or resources they may need. CDC: COVID-19 and Children
  • Both adults and children may experience trouble adjusting to the social distancing protocols, especially as schools and community gatherings are canceled. Our relationships are the primary means by which we gather information, understand our lives, and heal. Check in with caregivers and children on strategies to maintain social distancing protocols and maintain important relationships by staying in contact with friends and family members. Zero to Three: Tips for Families

Ensuring Safety and Continuity of Care

  • Ensure your workplace is following COVID-19 protocols to limit exposure to staff and clients. CDC: Workplace, School, and Home Guidance
  • Relative care and support are critical to tribal community child welfare systems. Some relative caregivers may have higher risk for COVID-19 exposure and more intense illness. Develop a master list that identifies those caregivers with higher risks, and make contact with them to check in on their ability to develop and implement a plan to reduce their risk and address continuity in care for children in their home should the placement be at risk for disruption.
  • Identify service delivery structures and resources that may be impacted by COVID-19, and develop a plan on how to address these issues with your staff. Share your list of issues and plan with leadership, local partners, and funders so they are aware of your challenges and ways in which they may assist you. Article: Coronavirus: What Child Welfare Systems Need to Think About
  • Check in with your tribal and/or state juvenile court system to brief them on what you see as some of the challenges that your program and community will face and discuss how to coordinate and address these within the court system as applicable. NACC: COVID-19 Resource Hub
  • Group care facilities have heightened risk for transmission of COVID-19. Check in with group care facilities where tribal children are placed, and ask for their COVID-19 plan. Develop a communication plan for ensuring timely and regular communication before decisions are made that impact children at these facilities.
  • Many schools and colleges are closing, and young people are being told to relocate from the dormitories and find other living arrangements. In addition, youth who are living independently are facing potential layoffs in their jobs. Some of these young people may not have a place to go or have other employment opportunities, such as youth who have aged out of the foster care system. Identify Native youth who have aged out of the foster care system, and check in with them to ensure they have safe housing and employment. Discuss resources to support them during this transitional time. As a reminder, up to 30% of state and tribal Chafee Foster Care program funds can be used for room and board assistance. Article: Internet Options for Students on Low Income

COVID-19 Webinar: Indian Child Welfare: Practice Impacts and Responses to COVID-19

COVID-19 Webinar: Funding Opportunities for Human Services

COVID-19 Webinar: Indian Child Welfare