Novel Coronavirus/COVID-19 General Information
Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C)
Plan for Your Child in Case You Get Sick
Parent/Caretaker Questions Regarding ACS Involvement
Caring for Children With Symptoms at Home
Emergency Guidance for ACS and Contracted Provider Agency Staff
Child Care Assistance
New York City is currently experiencing widespread community transmission of a new type of respiratory infection known as COVID-19. New York City's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH), is continually issuing guidance and NYC case data about this illness (please follow this link for translated DOHMH guidance). You can text "COVID" to 692-692 to receive updates by text message. New York State's Department of Health is also providing resources and guidance.
NYC DOHMH has shared the following information about COVID-19 and ways to help prevent the spread of the virus:
All New Yorkers Should Get Tested
All New Yorkers should get a COVID-19 diagnostic test, whether or not they have symptoms or are at increased risk. Tests are free. Look for a testing site near your home.
You will not be asked about immigration status. COVID-19 testing and care services are not a public benefit under the public charge rule (PDF).
For more information and translations, please visit the DOHMH COVID-19 page.
DOHMH Guidance for Health Care Providers
DOHMH is regularly issuing guidance and providing other resources for health care providers on its COVID-19: Information for Providers web page. Providers working with children and families should please be aware of the guidance regarding pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome that is potentially associated with COVID-19.
The State and City Health Departments are currently investigating a condition, which can be very harmful or fatal to children, and which may be associated with COVID-19. It is important that you be aware of this condition, because, though it continues to be uncommon, it can be fatal if not treated promptly.
This condition, which has features similar to Kawasaki Disease and Toxic Shock Syndrome, is called Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C and previously referred to as PMIS) and may be associated with COVID-19. It is important to recognize the signs, which include a high fever along with other symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, rash, and swollen hands or feet. If your child, or a child in a family you are working with, is ill with a persistent fever, it is important to call the child’s doctor to assess for MIS-C. If a child is acutely ill with other symptoms (rash, abdominal pain, chest pain) accompanying the fever, please call 911. Early identification and referral are key to accessing treatment which is available in most hospitals in New York City.
Provider agency medical directors and their clinical staff have already been receiving information about this syndrome, so we urge you to consult with them for any questions and concerns.
The health and safety of children, families, and staff is our most important focus during this public health crisis. If you are a parent, foster parent, or other caretaker, and you have a question about a child protective investigation, prevention case, or foster care case, please contact your Child Protective Specialist or agency case planner, and their supervision team if needed.
The ACS Office of Advocacy remains available to assist you by phone and e-mail. (We are currently limiting in-person contact in the interests of slowing the spread of COVID-19.)
The Office of Advocacy provides information and responds to the concerns of parents, youth, foster parents, and others affected by the child welfare system, juvenile justice system, and other ACS services. We also answer questions from the general public. All contact with the Office of Advocacy is confidential unless there are safety issues, especially those safety issues concerning a child.
The New York State Office of Court Administration oversees the Family Court and has issued Administrative Orders related to protecting the public and staff from the spread of COVID-19.
Provider agency staff should continue to contact your assigned Family Court Legal Services (FCLS) attorney for case-specific questions.
In an effort to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, at this time, ACS is only accepting legal papers through email service. Please scan and email legal papers to Ana.Rodriguez@acs.nyc.gov and cc: Peninna.email@example.com. Receipt will be acknowledged via email.
Service of process on individuals should continue to proceed in a manner required by applicable law.
ACS issued this guidance on March 25, 2020 to be used for situations in which children and youth with symptoms will be receiving care at home. All children and youth with symptoms will now be assumed to be COVID-19, unless proven otherwise with a negative test. Symptoms of COVID-19 could include: fever (temperature above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius), cough, sore throat, or difficulty breathing/shortness of breath. Call your doctor for any questions regarding the child's health.
During this crisis, our most important focus is on the health and safety of children, families, and staff. ACS and our contracted provider agency staff are part of the essential workforce that is carrying out our mission to protect child safety and support families. ACS has issued the emergency guidance here to help staff fulfill their mandated responsibilities while maintaining infection prevention practices in accordance with City and State guidelines. This includes:
Casework Contacts/Visiting Homes
ACS remains committed to our core mission of keeping children safe and supporting families. We have issued updated guidance to contracted foster care and prevention services provider agencies about maintaining contact with families to assess child safety and offer needed supports, while employing infection prevention strategies.
ACS is providing the following guidance to safeguard the wellbeing of families and children, as well as CPS staff and provider agency staff. This guidance will be updated as necessary in the coming weeks. ACS expects all prevention service agencies to accept referrals of families regardless of suspected, possible or known history of contact with COVID-19.
Visiting/Family Time for Children and Youth in Foster Care
Visits and communication between children in foster care and their parents are crucial to support the child's well-being, minimize trauma, and work towards reunification. We have issued updated guidance regarding Family Time (visits and communication with children who are placed in foster care) during this public health crisis.
ACS and our contracted foster care and prevention services agencies hold Family Team Conferences to address safety risks or other concerns, and to plan with families throughout a case. In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, ACS is providing the following guidance to safeguard the health and wellbeing of the families and children we work with, as well as our conferencing staff, child protection staff, and provider agency staff.
ACS and our contracted foster care provider agencies will continue to provide safe and nurturing foster placements for children in need, with a priority for placing children with family or friends who can serve as kinship foster caregivers whenever possible.
Guidance for Congregate Care Settings
COVID-19 Resource Request Form - updated March 24, 2020
ACS has clarified the process for contracted provider agencies to request COVID-19 Resources if unable to secure needed health and safety supplies through your own supply chains. Please fill out the form "NYC COVID-19 Resource Request Form General" and follow instructions on the form to submit it.
Provider agencies should only submit one form total. Once received, ACS will submit the form to NYC Emergency Management on your behalf. Please do not submit the forms to NYC Emergency Management directly.
NYC Guidance for Health and Human Service Providers
Mayor's Office of Contract Services FY 21 Fiscal and Budget Guidance for Human Service Provider Partners (Effective July 1, 2020, supersedes March 18, 2020 guidance)
Performance Monitoring Requirements
During the COVID-19 emergency in NYC, ACS will continue to use quality assurance systems to help monitor the safety and well-being of children served by foster care, prevention, and Close to Home programs, as outlined in the below guidance. Additionally, we are committed to supporting provider agencies' operational needs during this challenging time, and we will generate data as necessary to assist our contracted providers. Guidance will be updated when needed in the coming weeks.
Essential Employee Letter and Guidance for Work Travel
During the COVID-19 State of Emergency declared by the Governor of the State of New York and the Mayor of the City of New York, agencies that provide direct care and support services to children and youth, and are operated, licensed or certified by OCFS are designated as essential businesses, and are exempt from work travel restrictions. OCFS guidance verifies that prevention, foster care and juvenile justice agency staff are essential service providers.
In order to facilitate necessary work travel for our provider agency employees, ACS created a template letter for prevention, foster care, and juvenile justice provider agencies to use for agency staff as justification for employee travel. After customizing and signing the letter, please provide the letter to all employees who will be commuting to work or traveling while working.
Summer Travel for Foster Children
(Last updated July 20, 2020)
Participating in summer activities and vacations with their foster families is an important normative experience for children in foster care. Planning related to vacations and travel during the summer months is especially important to avoid any unnecessary disruptions in placement.
Foster care providers should make all foster parents aware of the New York State COVID-19 Travel Advisory. Providers should also make all foster parents aware of current CDC guidance on international and domestic travel. Currently, the CDC recommends avoiding all nonessential international travel. Please see CDC’s Summer Travel Abroad. Nonessential domestic travel should also be limited. For guidelines on domestic travel please see the CDC’s Coronavirus in the United States—Considerations for Travelers.
Please also see ACS guidance and policy related to vacations and the reasonable and prudent parenting standard. Before making travel arrangements with children in foster care, foster parents must receive approval from their foster care agency. The foster care agency must determine whether the proposed trip is in the best interests of the child. It is suggested that the agency, as always, confirm such items as the exact beginning and end dates, locations and families to be visited, plans for specific activities, and plans for medical and other special needs if any. The agency must seek the support and approval of the parents – including, as appropriate, a discussion as to the child’s ability to travel. The parents’ approval, however, is not essential. Provider agency medical directors must review all travel requests and determine if the proposed travel is appropriate based on the CDC guidance, NY State travel advisories regarding mandatory quarantine, and each child’s individual risk factors. It is important to remember that foster families traveling to any state on the NYS Restricted States list (see website) must quarantine for 14 days upon their return to New York, impacting their ability to participate in any in-person visits during those two weeks. Providers should keep this in mind when determining whether travel plans are in the best interests of the child. Medical directors that need further guidance should consult with ACS Agency Medical Director, Dr. Angel Mendoza.
COVID-19 Guidelines for Child Care Programs
Child care programs in New York City can reopen on July 13. They will need to follow new guidelines issued by New York State to address COVID-19. The guidelines and information you need are available on DOHMH’s Bureau of Child Care webpage.
Current Child Care Assistance Waivers
The City of New York has had several waivers approved by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services to provide support for families in receipt of child care assistance and the providers and programs that provide child care services for these families. These waivers are currently in effect through July 13, 2020. (Note: summer camps are not eligible for the waivers for payment for program closures or absences. Legally exempt (informal) providers are eligible to receive payment for absences.)
How to Reach ACS for Child Care Assistance
ACS Child Care Operations Offices including Resource Areas are closed to the public effective Monday March 23, 2020 in light of widespread community transmission of COVID-19 in New York City.
For any ACS Voucher Child Care issues, please reach us at one of the following email addresses:
State Guidance and Information for Child Care Providers
Please find New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) COVID-19 guidance and information for child care providers on OCFS's website.
Child Care Provider Payments FAQ
This guidance applies to providers who supply Child Care services to families paid for with NYC Child Care Vouchers. Child Care Voucher payments continue to be processed. There are actions you can take to help ensure you receive timely payments. See the Frequently Asked Questions below that will help you know the steps to take.
Small Business and Child Care Provider Resources
Governor Cuomo has announced that summer day camps can reopen on June 29, 2020. Summer day camps are eligible to provide subsidized child care if they (1) are permitted by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Health (NYC DoHMH) under Article 48 of the NYC Health Code and (2) enroll as a legally exempt group program with WHEDco.
Please visit the Department of Education (DOE)’s website for the latest information about the 2020-2021 school year, including health and safety measures, and learning models that will be available.
Guidance from Chancellor Carranza for NYC Department of Education (DOE) school personnel about mandated reporter responsibilities and working with ACS to promote child safety:
Guidance from ACS to hospital staff about how to locate caregivers for unaccompanied and unsupervised children, and initiating an SCR report when appropriate:
ACS guidance for NYC Department of Homeless Services (DHS) site staff about collaboration between our agencies to help meet the needs of families in shelter and keep children safe:
NYC Emergency Management and the Animal Planning Task Force have established a COVID-19 Pet Hotline for pet owners who are impacted by COVID-19 and need assistance.
Call (877) 204-8821, open 7 days per week 8am to 8pm ET. (See flyer in English or Spanish)