COVID-19 Resources for CACs, Partners, and Caregivers
Updated April 26, 2022
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
Guidance for Hosting Events
See this 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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Conducting and Defending a Tele-Forensic Interview - Video and Article
Zero Abuse Project created this video to help guide you on the process of conducting a 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Medicaid Guidance for Telehealth
See the 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.
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.
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.
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 the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.
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.
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.
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.
Public Awareness Resources
#ItsYourBusiness and #CACsRespondFirst campaigns
During the pandemic, and at any time, many kids are trapped where they’re most likely to suffer abuse, and kept away from the caring professionals who usually spot and report it. In fact, our statistics show that last year, our member CACs reached some 32,000 fewer children during the first half of the year than they did last year. We usually serve more and more children every year, but with fewer reports, child abuse victims aren’t getting the help they need and deserve.
See this easy to use mini-campaign with memes, handout cards, and resources in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese and ignite your community's will to protect our kids.
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