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May 2020Vol. 21, No. 4What the Children's Bureau Wants Parents to Know About Their Rights During the Pandemic

During these already challenging and uncertain times, families involved with child welfare may be dealing with additional stresses and negative situations as courts remain closed, hearings are delayed, and meaningful family time is either put on hold or conducted through the use of electronic devices.

In a recent Q&A, Jerry Milner, Associate Commissioner of the Children's Bureau, and David Kelly, special assistant to the Associate Commissioner, explain families' rights and protections during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as provide guidance to child welfare agencies and courts.

The Children's Bureau calls on agencies and courts to ensure that family time continues during the pandemic and encourages even more frequent communication between children and their parents. In addition, courts should continue to hold child welfare agencies accountable for continuing reunification work and remain mindful of the difficulties parents are facing as well as the limitations agencies and service providers are dealing with in their work to support the families they serve.

The Q&A also covers the challenges to upholding parents' rights to work toward reunification during a time when many services may be unavailable, flexible spending options for agencies to help families with limited access to the internet and electronic devices that can be used in place of face-to-face visitations during this period of social distancing, and a call to action to reshape the child welfare system nationally to better support parents and strengthen families.