CORONAVIRUS UTAH

Foster Families Say Visiting Policies Exposing Them To Coronavirus

Apr 9, 2020, 5:48 AM | Updated: 1:14 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – With social distancing orders in place, The Division of Children and Family Services continues to require in-person visits.

It’s putting some foster care families in a complicated situation.

“DCFS is just ignoring it, and we need to get on track and take this isolation seriously,” Sheila Stromberg, a former foster parent, told KSL TV. “We’re just going to see more deaths and hospitalizations. It’s incredibly shortsighted and foolish to not prioritize health at this time.”

Stromberg said foster families who don’t feel comfortable with in-person visits, fear having their foster child removed from their home.

She’s fostered in Utah for seven years. She said she believes in the foster care platform, but she disagrees with required in-person visits during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s shocking that safety is not taking precedence here,” Stromberg continued. “This is not the first time foster parents and families have been put at risk by DCFS.”

According to officials, the DCFS COVID-19 Reference Guide is being updated every one to three days, based on new information from the CDC. Officials said many visits with biological families are being done online, but others aren’t.

Earlier this week, one foster care family took their foster child to a mandated in-person visit with the biological family.

“Someone at the visit was showing symptoms of COVID-19,” the foster parent said. “We were so worried. That individual tested negative for COVID-19 on Wednesday, but with continued visits it seems it’s just a matter of time before one of us will be exposed.”

That parent and half a dozen others chose to remain anonymous.  They told KSL TV they appreciate the global efforts to isolate and flatten the curve, but they are not seeing the same action from DCFS.

“We have visits multiple times a week,” one foster parent said. “There are case workers, staff members and so many people who could be catching this virus because these visits are continuing.”

DCFS officials estimated 25% of visits are still being held in person.

“Parent/child time is essential. It’s one of the biggest predictors of success,” said Diane Moore, director of Utah’s Division of Child and Family Services. “Federal guidelines say we must carve out exceptions for limited in-person visits; they need to exist for us to do our job properly.”

Moore said they are offering CDC screenings at all in-person visits.

Here is a look at the most recent DCFS COVID19 guidelines.

Coronavirus Resources  

  • Have you or a family member been affected by coronavirus issues in Utah? KSL TV wants to hear from you. Contact KSL by emailing social@ksl.com 

How Do I Prevent It?  

The CDC has some simple recommendations, most of which are the same for preventing other respiratory illnesses or the flu:  

  • Avoid close contact with people who may be sick  
  • Avoid touching your face  
  • Stay home when you are sick  
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash  
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.  
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.  

How To Get Help  

If you’re worried you may have COVID-19, go to TestingUtah.com to schedule a test, or contact the Utah Coronavirus Information Line at 1-800-456-7707 to speak to trained healthcare professionals. You can also use telehealth service through your healthcare providers.   

Additional Resources  

If  you see evidence of PRICE GOUGING, the Utah Attorney General’s Office wants you to report it. Common items in question include toilet paper, water, hand sanitizer, certain household cleaners, and even cold medicine and baby formula. Authorities are asking anyone who sees price gouging to report it to the Utah Division of Consumer Protection at 801-530-6601 or 800-721-7233. The division can also be reached by email at consumerprotection@utah.gov. 

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Foster Families Say Visiting Policies Exposing Them To Coronavirus