COVID-19 Resources for CACs, Partners, and Caregivers

Updated March 17, 2021

NCA has collected these resources, created by ourselves and our many expert partners, to help CACs provide services safely and effectively during the pandemic era. They are available free to the public and to all CACs and MDTs, regardless of NCA membership. With questions or to contribute, email us at

See guidance from AAP on consideration for children and families involved in the child welfare system during the pandemic. This guidance includes information on visitation, family support, guidelines for sick children, and collaboration with pediatricians, and will be valuable for MDT coordinators, child welfare representatives, and all MDT members during this time. 

New safety guidelines for the fully vaccinated (CDC)

Newly updated long-haul health and safety guidance for CACs, now with updated vaccine safety FAQs, operational planning guidance, and more (NCA and partners)

mother fitting mask onto daughter

Below, you will find guidance and general information on providing services under new public health guidelines, perspectives on case triage and planning partial or total shutdowns, practical information on how CACs might provide remote services to clients, and more. This page will be updated with new information continually as it becomes available, so please check back frequently. As always, check the NCA Engage Open Forum for the latest from your colleagues across the CAC movement. 

Looking for a new resource that's not showing up on the page? Hold CTRL+F5 to "hard refresh" the page and force the latest version to load.

Detailed COVID-19 Guidance for CACs

As we know, CACs are both the expression of the community’s response to the needs of its children and the gathering place for community leaders tasked with their protection. In times of crisis, this positions us in a unique role not only as a leader among your partner agencies, but in many cases as a key forum where local decisions on the public health response are informed or even made. This guidance will prove especially helpful as you discuss your decision-making process with your MDT partners, board members, and partner agency representatives.

*NEW* Updated COVID-19 CAC Service Guidelines (now with the latest info on vaccine safety, operational planning, and more)

As our understanding of the pandemic has evolved, we are pleased to update our long-haul health and safety guidance, with newly added content on vaccine safety and effectiveness, operational planning, information sources, and more. Many of the questions you and your colleagues had during our open forum webinar are answered directly in this newly updated guide. 

Our partners at MRCAC, WRCAC, NCTSN, and other institutions are here to help you maintain health and safety in the CAC setting, balance the need for pandemic safety against the critical medical needs of children and families, and maintain a psychologically safe environment for clients, staff, and teams. It includes screening criteria, advice on personal protective equipment (PPE), safety procedures for exam rooms and common areas alike, and more. 

See our COVID-19 medical, health, & safety guidelines

*New* When You've Been Fully Vaccinated (CDC)

COVID-19 vaccines are effective at protecting you from getting sick. Based on what we know about COVID-19 vaccines, people who have been fully vaccinated can start to do some things that they had stopped doing because of the pandemic. While, for the moment, none of the new guidelines affect CAC operations or guidance against gatherings like fundraisers, see the CDC's new safety guidelines for the fully vaccinated to see the benefits of vaccination and our first step in emerging from the COVID era. 

See the CDC's new safety guidelines for the fully vaccinated

Child Welfare Guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)

See new guidance from AAP on consideration for children and families involved in the child welfare system during the pandemic. This guidance includes information on visitation, family support, guidelines for sick children, and collaboration with pediatricians, and will be valuable for MDT coordinators, child welfare representatives, and all MDT members during this time. 

See "Guidance for Children and Families Involved with the Child Welfare System During the COVID-19 Pandemic" (AAP)

Guidance and Considerations for Re-Opening

See all new toolkits and sample operational policies for re-emerging CACs developed by Southern Regional CAC. Also please see a guidance document from the Washington State Chapter compiling information from NCA, CDC, the State of Washington, and other sources to assist you in planning your own procedures and making critical decisions with consideration. 

See Toolkit for Re-Emerging Child Advocacy Centers (SRCAC)
See Sample CAC COVID Operational Protocol
See "Considerations for Re-Opening"
 (CACs of Washington)

Guidance for Hosting Events

See this new guide and decision tree from Western Regional CAC, providing a list of questions and issues to consider when determining whether or not to host an in-person training or event during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

See "Considerations for Hosting In-Person Trainings and Events" (WRCAC)

Video: The New Normal: Long-Haul Health and Safety Guidance for CACs - May 22, 2020

Watch the recording of the May 22, 2020, webinar with NCA, Midwest Regional CAC, and medical and CAC experts discussing simple, national guidance based on best practices to keep you, your teams, and your kids and families safe for the long haul. What’s critical? What’s overkill? Ask our panel your burning questions and help us frame the guidance documents we’re working on to serve you better. Co-sponsored by and hosted with Midwest Regional CAC.


Watch the recording of The New Normal: Long-Haul Health and Safety Guidance for CACs

Video: Innovative Prevention Ideas for CACs during the Crisis - April 30, 2020

See a recording of our webinar with leaders from across the field on creative ways they are working with school leaders and others to ensure they can stay in contact with at-risk kids through isolation. 


Watch the recording of "Prevention during COVID-19"

Guidance from HHS: Child Welfare Workers and Service Providers are Level I Emergency Responders

See this new letter from HHS Children's Bureau Associate Commissioner Jerry Milner that defines child welfare workers and service providers to children (to include, broadly, CACs) as Level I emergency responders eligible for greater access to personal protective equipment (PPE). Milner also noted that the Deputy Secretary of HHS has reached out to all governors to request this status and greater access to PPE.

Use this letter in reaching out to state administration, emergency management, and public health officials to help make the case that CACs are emergency responders and deserve access to PPE. 

Read and share the emergency responder letter

Responding to Child Abuse During a Pandemic: 25 Tips for MDTs

Many child protection professionals believe child abuse is likely to increase during the COVID-19 pandemic because most abusers are parents or siblings  who now have more complete access to the child victim. In turn, the victim may no longer have schoolteachers, faith leaders or other mandated reporters they can access for help or who may detect a sign of abuse. See this sheet of 25 prevention and response tips for CACs and MDTs from the Zero Abuse Project. 

Read "Responding to Child Abuse During a Pandemic: 25 Tips for MDTs"

Video: COVID-19 and CACs Webinar — March 18, 2020

See a recording of our rapid-response webinar where NCA and leaders from some of our movement’s leading CACs on the front lines of the outbreak covered advice on how to triage cases and build your response plan.


Watch the webinar recording of "COVID-19 and CACs"

Safety and concerns of essential employees who must report

First, determine which services are critical—services that must be maintained and offered through the outbreak. Then, look at your own workforce and assess which positions are essential to providing these critical services. Know the risk level of your own community so that you are making decisions based upon that and not upon broad media reports that may have little to do with your own community. It will reassure employees to see that your decisions reached in consultation with local public health officials, and your team medical provider. And, many of the actions you have taken to keep kids and families safe will also increase the safety of your staff—such as cleaning more frequently and sanitizing materials within the CAC.

Staffing considerations
  • Encourage employees to wash hands frequently and make hand sanitizer available.
  • Address leave policies now and encourage those individuals who become ill (whether with COVID-19 or any other illness) to stay home from work until they are released to return to work by their physician.
  • More information about the legal responsibilities of employers regarding COVID-19 may be found here.   

Tele-Forensic Interviewing

Experts suggest that tele-forensic interviewing (tele-FI) is an effective and legally defensible alternative to face-to-face interviewing when appropriate guidelines are followed and external factors that could impact the reliability of the children's testimony are effectively addressed. Evidence for tele-FI for children include a review of existing research, plus preliminary results from a large in-progress study funded by the National Science Foundation.

*New* Provisional Tele-Forensic Interview Guidelines from Michigan

From Michigan, the Governor's Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect has shared provisional tele-FI interview guidelines. The guidelines include suggestions for maintaining multidisciplinary team involvement when appropriate and for ensuring that children interviewed via videoconference applications are connected to available victim services.

See Michigan's guidelines

Emergency Tele-Forensic Interview Guidelines

NCA and Montclair State University partnered with an emergency working group of leading experts in the field of forensic interviewing, including researchers, developers of forensic interviewing protocols, master trainers in forensic interviews, and representatives from the FBI and Homeland Security Investigations. This working group provided guidance to CACs on when, whether, and how to provide tele-FI for children as a safe alternative in emergency situations.

See our emergency tele-forensic interview guidance for CACs

Conducting and Defending a Pandemic-Era Forensic Interview - Video and Article

Zero Abuse Project created this video to help guide you on the process of conducting a pandemic-era tele-FI, and they also worked with the National District Attorneys' Association on conducting and defending a tele-forensic interview or otherwise modified interview in court. See this important reference as you develop or revise your protocols or as situations arise. 

Watch "Conducting a Pandemic-Era Forensic Interview: Sample Language for Practice" Video (ZAP)
See "Conducting and Defending a Pandemic-Era Forensic Interview"
 Article (ZAP)

Tele-Forensic Resources

Safe Shores – The DC Children's Advocacy Center has made available a new decision tree and Zoom User Guide for interviewers and teams new to the platform. The decision tree follows the cooperative agreements between Safe Shores and the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., and should be used only to inform discussion among MDT members in other jurisdictions about how to develop decision protocols of their own. 

Emergency Tele-Forensic Interview Screening Protocol (Safe Shores - The DC Childrens Advocacy Center)

Step-by-Step MDT User Guide for Tele-Forensic Interviews Using Zoom (Safe Shores - The DC Childrens Advocacy Center)

Tele-Forensic Interview Practical Guides 

Central Michigan University has provided a guide for forensic interviewers to introduce children to be interviewed to the tele-FI scenario.

Central Michigan University - Introducing Tele-Forensic Interviewing to Child Victims to be Interviewed

Baltimore CAC has provided a number of resources to help guide CACs through setting up tele-forensic interview capabilities. 

Baltimore CAC - Tele-Forensic Interview Screening Decision Tree

Baltimore CAC - Tele-Forensic Interview Room Setup Diagram

Baltimore CAC - Tele-Forensic Interview Shopping List

Medical, Health, & Safety Resources for CACs

NCA and experts in pediatrics provided guidance on how to reduce exposure to COVID-19 for clients, staff, and team members in all areas of the CAC setting, including medical practitioners in the exam setting. Here, you'll find practical information on how to protect health and safety at your CAC through the pandemic as well as decision-making tools to help you navigate how to provide critical medical services. 

COVID-19 Health And Safety Guidelines

This document, provided in FAQ format, is provided to answer questions for CAC staff, team members, and medical providers on how to maintain health and safety in the CAC setting, and to balance the need for pandemic safety against the critical medical needs of children and families. It includes screening criteria, advice on personal protective equipment (PPE), safety procedures for exam rooms and common areas alike, and more. 

See our COVID-19 medical, health, & safety guidelines

Medical Masks for CAC Safety

Here is a guide to the different kinds of medical masks and their safe usage during the pandemic to cut down on viral transmission.

See our guide to types of medical masks as personal protective equipment for CAC staff and teams

Telehealth Resources

Below you'll find new resources to help you and your team and partners consider alternative ways to maintain critical mental health services for children and families in ways that maintain the spatial isolation critical to stopping the spread of the virus. 

*NEW* Telemental health tip sheets for caregivers and therapists

NCA is proud to present new resources to help caregivers and therapists plan ahead for telemental health courses and sessions and address the unique challenges of providing services for kids through technology. These tip sheets are short, easy to follow, and ready to print off and hand out. Experts at Dakota Children's Advocacy Center, Medical University of South Carolina, and Red River Children's Advocacy Center offer guidance for the most important people in the mental health process—parents and therapists—to ensure quality services that are just as engaging and safe as treatments delivered in person. 

Telehealth tips for you and your child (tip sheet)

Telehealth tips for therapists (tip sheet)

Video: What You Need to Get Started Delivering TF-CBT by Telehealth

Screencapture of Telehealth delivery of TF-CBT

As many organizations go virtual because of the COVID-19 outbreak, children across the United States are losing access to vital mental health services. This training will provide those using or looking to use telehealth technology for Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) with some critical considerations and safeguards to keep in mind. Topics will include: specific tailoring of TF-CBT components for a telehealth delivery format; a demonstration of how to utilize electronic resources to deliver TF-CBT components; and procedures and workflow considerations for telehealth delivery of TF-CBT.

This training is intended only for and available only to clinicians who are TF-CBT Certified, TF-CBT Certified Ready, or involved in a TF-CBT Learning Collaborative and have permission from their collaborative trainer. 

View the training and certificate requirements

TF-CBT Telehealth Resources

See all-new resources on delivering Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) through telehealth from the TF-CBT National Therapist Certification Program.

Access TF-CBT Resources

Webinar: Healing through Telehealth during COVID-19


Image above links to Part 1

View Part 2

View Part 3

Medicaid Guidance for Telehealth

See the new guidance from the federal government on expanding allowable uses of Medicaid to cover telehealth to meet mental health needs of children and families, and what it means (and doesn't mean) for CACs and our clients. 

See the new Medicaid guidance

WRCAC Telemental Health Resource Center

Western Regional CAC's Telemental Health Resource Center is designed to provide information and access to current resources regarding telemental health, with an emphasis on the unique needs of CACs and their clients and staff. 

Access the Telemental Health Resource Center

Telehealth Mini-Webinars and Tip Sheet (bilingual)

Medical University of South Carolina has put together a crash cours on providing mental health services over distance, including 10-minute webinars in English and Spanish and a tip sheet. They're yours to access now. 

Access the MUSC mini-webinars and tip sheet in English and Spanish

Telehealth Guidance for Providers from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

The HHS Office of Civil Rights, responsible for enforcing the HIPAA Rules, has issued guidance that it will not impose penalties for noncompliance against covered healthcare providers in the course of good faith efforts to provide telehealth during the COVID-19 epidemic. A covered health care provider that wants to use audio or video communication technology to provide telehealth to patients during the emergency can use any non-public facing remote communication product that is available to communicate with patients.

Read the full guidance from HHS

COVID-19 Financial Relief Guidance for CACs

The novel coronavirus outbreak causing the deadly respiratory illness COVID-19 not only impacts the communities, families, and children served by the nation's Children's Advocacy Centers (CACs) in terms of safety—it also threatens the financial viability of many of the funding sources CACs rely on to offer these critical services. NCA offers guidance to CACs on relief programs and other ways to weather the pandemic and preserve their operations, workforce, and services. 

See COVID-19 Financial Relief Resources for CACs

Resources for CAC Professionals

In addition to the guidance above, we are pleased to share other resources from both CAC movement and partner agencies that may be helpful to CAC professionals, teams, staff, and boards on specific aspects of our and the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

*NEW* Resources for CAC Professionals' Emotional Well-Being

The emotional well-being of CAC professionals directly affects our ability to serve children, and during a time of fear, grief, isolation, and uncertainty, self-care and the care of our colleagues is a part of our work more critical than ever. TEND Academy in Canada has provided resources on caring for workplace emotional well-being for CACs and MDTs during COVID-19. 

TEND Covid-19 Resources (New resources are added each week)

Staying Well during COVID-19 Handout

Three-Minute Breathing Space Infographic

Secondary Traumatic Stress Consortium COVID-19 Resources

Resources for Providers from the HHS Children's Bureau

Find a list of resources from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) including information specific to foster care providers and child welfare workers. 

Access COVID-19 Resources from HHS

Resources for Supporting Children's Emotional Well-Being

This general guide on the effects the pandemic may have on the emotional well-being of children will be of help to CAC professionals, mental health providers, community partners, and even caregivers. 

Child Trends' Resources for Supporting Children’s Emotional Well-being during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Public Awareness Resources

During the COVID-19 epidemic, raising public awareness and fundraising will be more challenging than ever, with the cancellation of events and the omnipresence of the pandemic in the news cycle. Here are some resources to help you build public awareness of the critical first-responder role of the CAC, update reporters on threats and opportunities to kids during the pandemic, and elevate your voice at a time when we can't connect in person. 

COVID-19 and Child Abuse: Facts and talking points for use with the media

NCA has developed this sheet of talking points for use with the media to illustrate the danger of kids of being held in social isolation when the vast majority of abuse happens in the home. It includes facts, data, and steps we can take to ensure kids are safe now and that CACs have the resources to respond to the rash of reports we expect after lockdown ends. 

The document is prepared to give you talking points for your calls and interviews with media, but it is formatted in such a way that it may be shared with media if you don't have time or feel more comfortable sharing this background information before speaking. 

Get NCA's pandemic impact talking points for media interviews

SHINE Campaign Quick Start Guide

While many prevention and public awareness-related April activities are on hold, there's no reason not to make some noise this April. After all, the need for services to our kids won't stop for the pandemic, and CACs need more public involvement than ever. See our SHINE Quick Start Guide for ideas on how to use the SHINE Campaign to break through the noise and build connections among adult survivors and supporters of kids to make a difference for the kids who need services now. The social media section in particular is full of great ideas on how to foster enthusiasm and community among supporters of children through your CAC. 

Access the SHINE Quick Start Guide

Resources for Partner Agencies

This section includes guidance from authorities and useful information for your MDT members, community partners, and other related agencies. This includes guidance for law enforcement, child welfare agencies, and more. 

CDC Guidance for Law Enforcement Personnel

The Centers for Disease Control have offered a tip sheet for law enforcement personnel on safely performing their duties during the epidemic. 

What law enforcement personnel need to know about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Child Welfare Considerations during COVID-19

This article from the Chronicle for Social Change considers many perspectives and includes input from different stakeholders in child welfare, including children themselves.

Coronavirus: What Child Welfare Systems Need to Think About

Guidance for Child Welfare Agencies

A message from Dr. Jerry Milner, Associate Commissioner of Children's Bureau, outlines guidance around caseworker visits, site reviews, program improvement plans, investigations, and other legislative and regulatory issues in this situation. 

See Children's Bureau guidance to child welfare leaders

Resources for Caregivers and Families

Below, you'll find resources on safety and information for caregivers of the children we serve during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

*NEW* Yale and NCTSN Resources for Caregivers and Families (includes bilingual resources)

See these new resources developed by the Childhood Violent Trauma Center at the Yale Child Study Center, Yale University School of Medicine (a Center of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network [NCTSN]), and by NCTSN, to support both adults and children—and help adult caregivers support their children—through the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"Understanding and Coping with Reactions during a Pandemic," for adults during the COVID-19 pandemic, developed by the Yale Child Study Center. After reading the introduction in this document, the subsequent color-coded pages walk the reader through what a person might be experiencing during the pandemic; how that could manifest in physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioral symptoms; coping strategies; and why these strategies may be effective.

Read "Understanding and Coping with Reactions during a Pandemic" / Lea "Comprender y Lidiar con las Reacciones en una Pandemia" en español (Spanish version)

"Parenting Guide: Helping Children Cope with the COVID-19 Pandemic," for parents and caregivers who are supporting children during the COVID-19 pandemic, developed by the Yale Child Study Center. This document is a “tip card” that serves as a tool for parents and caregivers to help them understand their child's experience during this pandemic, help them think from the child's perspective, and therefore how to better understand how to support children.

Read "Parenting Guide: Helping Children Cope with the COVID-19 Pandemic"Lea "Cómo Ayudar a los Niños a Lidiar con la Pandemia de COVID-19" en español (Spanish version)

"Supporting Children During Coronavirus," for parents and caregivers who are supporting children during the COVID-19 pandemic, developed by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN). This document offers ways to support children during the pandemic, including a description of how to start a conversation with children about COVID-19, correct inaccurate information, encourage children to ask questions and how to answer them. 

Read "Supporting Children During Coronavirus"

"Helping Children with Traumatic Separation or Traumatic Grief related to COVID-19," for parents/caregivers supporting children impacted by traumatic separation and/or traumatic grief during the COVID-19 pandemic, developed by the Child Traumatic Grief-Traumatic Separation Committee of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN). This document is a "tip card" that serves as a tool for parents and caregivers to help them understand their child's experience of and reactions to traumatic separation and/or traumatic grief, help them think from the child's perspective, and therefore how to better understand how to support children. 

Read "Helping Children with Traumatic Separation or Traumatic Grief related to COVID-19"

See the full collection of resources at the Yale website

NCTSN Caregiver Guides

Caregivers and children may have worries about catching COVID-19. See these helpful multilingual resources from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network for your clients and families. English, Spanish, and Chinese guides are available. 

Parent/Caregiver Guide to Helping Families Cope With the Coronavirus Disease 2019

Guía de ayuda para padres y cuidadores para ayudar a las familias a enfrentar la enfermedad Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19)

Parent/Caregiver Guide to Helping Families Cope With the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (in Chinese) / 家長/照顧者協助家庭因應新冠病毒/武漢肺炎疫情(COVID-19)指南

General Information about COVID-19

The CDC has created an online toolkit that contains fact sheets, tips for employers, tips for those directly serving children, and many other resources. View the CDC Online Toolkit In general, COVID-19 creates flu-like symptoms, which include cough, fever, and shortness of breath. It spreads by close contact with those who are ill (generally from sneezing or coughing), and symptoms may appear 2-14 days post-exposure. There is no vaccine yet for COVID-19. Some groups are particularly at risk for COVID-19:

  • Those 60 and older.
  • Individuals with underlying health conditions such as heart issues, lung issues (asthma, COPD, etc.), and diabetes.
  • Those who are immune-suppressed (including those who are taking medication which lower’s one’s immune system).

Special care should be taken with these populations whether or not the general community risk is high because the consequences can be very serious if such a person contracts the illness. More information can be found on the World Health Organization’s website.

General Prevention Measures

  • Wash hands with soap or sanitizer for 20 seconds (moisturize your hands after washing them to prevent cracks in skin which can admit the virus—but do not use a communal lotion bottle, as it can become colonized with bacteria and viruses).
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Sanitize and clean surfaces at home and at work frequently.
  • If you cough or sneeze do so in your elbow or in a tissue and immediately throw the tissue away. Wash your hands immediately after coughing or sneezing.
  • If you are ill, stay home.

More resources will be added as they are available. As always, the NCA Engage Open Forum is your best source for questions and specific resources from your colleagues.