Parenting Time With Your Children in Foster Care Amidst the “Government Lockdown”

One must first understand that as of the date of this post, Governor Cuomo has not issued any mandate that unilaterally prohibits a person from traveling or coming into contact with one another.  However, Governor Cuomo has required people to be diligent in utilizing appropriate safeguards, including, but not limited to, wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands, using anti-bacterial soaps & wiping down surfaces that have been touched.

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The following is from the most recent memorandum from the Administration for Children Services as it relates to the visitation of children in foster care:

“When preparing or scheduling appointments for visits, the case planner assigned to the family must make diligent efforts to contact the family to pre-screen for any potential risk of COVID-19. The case planner should ask a parent or caregiver the following questions:

  • Does anyone in your household have symptoms of a respiratory infection? (e.g. cough, sore throat, fever, shortness of breath); or
  • Has anyone in your household been directed to self-isolate or self-quarantine by a medical professional? 

If the parent or caregiver answers “yes” to either of the above questions, case planners should:

  • Direct the parent or caregiver to remain at home with their household members and contact their medical professional, if they have one.
  • If the parent or caregiver needs help finding contact information for their medical provider/doctor, case planners should try to assist by conducting online searches.
  • If the family does not have a primary care doctor or has been unable to reach their doctor, the family should contact 311. 

If the parent or caregiver answers “no” to the advance screening questions (i.e. reports that no one in the household has symptoms and they have not been directed to self-isolate or self-quarantine) the case planner must arrange an in-person contact, either at home or at an alternate location (e.g., an outdoor location that allows for more social distancing).

Providers should attempt to continue visits according to current visiting plans and court orders, in person if consistent with the health and safety of the child, parent, case planner and foster parent. When necessary for health and safety reasons, case planners should arrange for video visits or phone calls. Similarly, providers should follow court orders as closely as safely possible given the public health emergency.

In-person visits should be held if:

  • The advance screening protocol described above, provider staff have confirmed that no one attending the visit is currently exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19, nor has anyone been asked to self-quarantine; and
  • Attendees are not high-risk for COVID-19 (high-risk meaning older adults [60+] or to caregivers over 50 who have chronic health conditions such as lung disease, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, and/or a weakened immune system, please see DOHMH website for updates) . . .”

If you have a child currently living in the foster care system and are NOT receiving your court-ordered parenting time, a family law attorney can help. Call us at 631-392-4949 or email us at info@bpfamilylaw.com if you wish to discuss your particular situation as it relates to parenting time or visitation with your child in foster care.

The information and suggestions contained herein are not to be construed as legal advice and may have been provided by a third-party source

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