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COVID-19 child welfare policies and protocols

In response to COVID-19, the Department of Human Services (DHS) created new protocols to address child welfare practices and offer support to children and youth during the crisis. These protocols guide the work of DHS staff and partner agencies.

DHS maintains a list of COVID-19 resources for children and families. You can also learn more about the City’s response to COVID-19.

Name Description Released Format
COVID-19 – DHS Safe Return to Work Guidelines – July 2020, 7-16-20 PDF As the City continues with its efforts to transition to the Green Phase of re-opening of City Offices in a phased and safe manner, DHS continues to expand its services and return employees back to work onsite. To minimize potential COVID-19 exposure when reporting to work onsite, the department is providing the following Safe Return to Work Guidelines which are consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the City’s Health Department’s recommendations based on common safety elements. February 11, 2021
DHS COVID-19 Guidance for Court Ordered Agency Supervised Visitation PDF As Philadelphia moves forward in conjunction with the state’s reopening, subject to Court approval, DHS is initiating a plan to resume face to face supervised visitation between parents, siblings, and children and youth. February 11, 2021
DHS COVID-19 Guidance for Court Ordered Unsupervised, Supervised by Resource Caregiver, or Residential Treatment and Congregate Care PDF As Philadelphia moves forward in conjunction with state’s reopening, subject to Court approval, DHS is initiating a plan to resume face to face unsupervised visits, visits supervised by resource caregiver, and Residential Treatment and Congregate Care Facility visits between parents, siblings, other Court-ordered visitation participants, and children and youth. February 11, 2021
DHS COVID-19 Updated Guidance for In-Person Investigations and Casework Contacts PDF This protocol provides guidance to DHS Social Work Services Staff, CUA, and Placement Providers on their existing in-person casework contacts as well as resuming in-person casework contacts in most instances during the COVI D-19 emergency in Philadelphia, prioritizing the health and safety of families and staff. February 11, 2021
When DHS, CUA, or Other Provider Agencies Expose Children and Youth in Care or Receiving In-Home Services to COVID-19 PDF Consistent with protecting children and youth through ensuring their health, safety, and well-being, along with that of child welfare staff at DHS and partner agencies, this additional guidance involves protocols for identifying, notifying, and addressing when DHS, CUA, or other providers agencies discover inadvertent exposure of children and youth to COVID-19. February 11, 2021
When Children and Youth Committed to DHS are Exposed to, Symptomatic of, Awaiting Test Results for, or Test Positive for COVID-19 PDF Ensuring children and youth’s health, safety, and well-being, along with that of DHS and partner agency staff, is a top priority. This is additional guidance regarding protocols for addressing when children and youth in substitute care are exposed to, symptomatic of, awaiting test results for, or test positive for COVID-19. This guidance may continue to evolve and are updated as new issues and information arise. February 11, 2021
Older Youth Review Referral Protocol and Referral Form PDF Review protocol for older youth who do not have an appropriate transition plan. The goal is to develop a smooth plan to a safe and stable living situation where their needs are met. October 23, 2020
DHS COVID-19 Protocol for the PJJSC PDF The health, safety and well-being of all youth in detention and all staff is DHS’s priority. PJJSC has created protocols that PJJSC is using in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. These plans continue to evolve and will be updated as new issues and information arise. DHS is committed to being flexible and adaptive. October 9, 2020
Policy for Family Visits During Covid-19 PDF Amended Order - Juvenile Dependency Child Visitation August 31, 2020
Guidance for family visits during Covid-19 PDF During these challenging times, in-person visits remain important to children and their parents. These types of visits are essential to healthy child development and reducing trauma. Some in-person visits will restart and special steps must be taken to make sure that these visits are safe. August 31, 2020
Guía para visitas familiares Durante el Covid-19 PDF En estos tiempos difíciles, las visitas en persona siguen siendo importantes para los niños y sus padres. Estos tipos de visitas son esenciales para el desarrollo saludable de los niños y para reducir el trauma. Algunas visitas en persona se retomarán, y debemos tomar medidas especiales para asegurarnos de que estas visitas sean seguras. September 4, 2020
Revised Family Team Decision Making Conference Policy PDF This revised policy helps to elevate the voices of children, youth, and their families to ensure their perspective guides any case plans and coordination of services. Due to COVID-19, all Teamings are being conducted virtually until further notice. August 21, 2020
COVID-19 Out of State and International Travel Policy PDF DHS has issued this guidance to balance essential work-related out-of-state and international travel conducted by DHS and CUA staff. August 21, 2020
Board Extension Requirements PDF During COVID-19 crisis and until otherwise notified all requirements for older youth who are Board Extension, stipulating continued involvement in educational programs, employment and behavioral health treatment are suspended until further notice. A youth shall not be discharged for non-compliance during this time. May 26, 2020
COVID-19 Testing for PJJSC PDF The protocol outlines the process for the testing of youth for COVID-19, who are ordered to be held at the PJJSC. Testing began on Wednesday, May 20, 2020. PJJSC have partnered with Corizon Health, which is a contracted provider, and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). May 26, 2020
Emergency guidance for investigations and casework contacts PDF Guidance on conducting casework contacts in-person, on the phone, or by video. May 19, 2020
Juvenile Dependency Child Visitation Order PDF A Philadelphia Family Court order issued on April 16, 2020 in response to COVID-19. This order affects visitation with children and youth, as well as judicial timelines. May 19, 2020
Visitation and judicial timelines protocol PDF This document describes the protocol for visiting with children and youth, as well as COVID-19's effect on judicial timelines. May 19, 2020
COVID 19 Congregate Care Guidance Protocol PDF This protocol identifies key areas that congregate care facilities must include in their COVID-19 Action Plans. This COVID-19 Action Plan must include public health guided risk mitigation strategies as well as preparedness plan in the event of confirmed COVID-19 disease within its facility. June 4, 2020
DHS COVID-19 Congregate Care Action Plan PDF June 4, 2020