What is SCYAP doing concerning COVID-19?
SCYAP is continuing to monitor the developments around COVID-19 (Coronavirus). Our response to the virus is guided by several SCYAP values – safety, well-being, and permanency. We are committed to keeping our children, foster parents, and staff healthy and safe, while also continuing behavioral health treatment and maintaining children in a stable family environment to develop and grow.
SCYAP began with a foundation of detailed infectious disease protocols that meet national accreditation, state and federal regulations. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, a committee of management level staff was developed to continually review, evaluate, and adapt SCYAP protocols and procedures related to COVID-19. We are following recommendations made by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC). We also take into consideration research and consultation from other reliable sources. Our primary focus is on the health and well-being of the children, families, youth, foster parents, and staff we work with every day.
In response to the virus, we continually receive guidance from South Carolina Medicaid and the South Carolina Department of Social Services (SCDSS) about service delivery. We have been allowed more flexibility in meeting children and families’ needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The primary flexibility given during this time has been telehealth, or virtual meetings and trainings.
In all SCYAP programs, our staff reinforce health education around limiting the spread of COVID-19. Our goal is to ensure that families and youth know the latest information from the CDC and SCDHEC. General recommendations set forth in the most recent guidance from CDC and SCDHEC (as of July 2020) include:
- Avoid close contact with people outside your home. Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet apart whenever possible.
- Wash hands frequently and for at least 20 seconds. Washing hands often under clean, running water can help prevent the spread of germs. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Stay home when you are sick. If possible, stay home from work, school and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness. Avoid close contact with people who are sick, even those who live inside your home.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Wear a face mask or covering when around others to prevent spread of the virus.
- Cover coughs and sneezes. Use a tissue to cover coughs and sneezes, then dispose of the tissue. When a tissue is not available, cough or sneeze into your elbow.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces or objects. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill.
- Monitor your health daily. Be alert for symptoms of COVID-19 and take your temperature if symptoms develop.
REFERRALS AND ADMISSIONS
All SCYAP programs are currently accepting referrals and continuing operations. We are completing a health screening interview prior to admission or service delivery to ensure youth are not showing symptoms, are fever-free, have not had contact with anyone suspected of having COVID-19, and that the family is comfortable with a visit or placement.
FOSTER CARE PROGRAMS
We are currently accepting new applicants for foster care licensure as additional homes are needed in all areas of South Carolina. There is a particular need for new homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Virtual trainings are held regularly for new and existing foster parents. Our Licensing Coordinators screen applicants with health questions prior to any home visits or inspections. Safety precautions such as requiring face masks or coverings, physical distancing during visits, and limited timeframes for visits are utilized to ensure safety.
Foster homes are monitored for risk of exposure to COVID-19. Children are assessed for illness prior to placement and foster parents are informed of any risk. Foster parents always have the final decision about placement of a child in their home. Regional foster care staff interview foster families prior to any visits. During visits, staff are required to wear face masks or coverings, practice social distancing, and meet outdoors, when appropriate and possible. SCYAP staff continue to provide an intensive level of support for foster parents and youth, including 24 after-hours crisis response. Whenever appropriate, supportive services are provided via telephone or a virtual platform to limit person-to person contact.
COMMUNITY-BASED WRAPAROUND SERVICES
SCYAP direct care workers (sometimes referred to as “Advocates”) have been given health screening questions to ask families before going into homes to ensure no one in the home has been exposed to COVID-19. If any risk of COVID-19 exposure is identified, SCYAP staff will not visit the home until it is safe to do so. SCYAP Advocates are required to wear masks, practice social distancing, and provide services outdoors, when appropriate and possible.
MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
Many of our in-home therapy services are provided via our telehealth platform, as allowed by the South Carolina Medicaid Program. This is the safest method of service delivery and allows greater access for children and families in meeting with their therapist.
For our clinic-based mental health services, most therapy clients are also seen via telehealth. However, a smaller number are seen face-to-face in the office. When an office visit is necessary, SCYAP staff are checking all clients’ and visitors’ temperature at the door, asking everyone to wear masks, providing hand sanitizer, and disinfecting common areas and surfaces on a routine basis. Families are also asked to wait in their personal vehicles until appointment time to limit the number of persons in the waiting room.
GENERAL OFFICE STAFF
All SCYAP Regional offices are open and operating without interruption. However, many SCYAP staff are working remotely to avoid any unnecessary contact with others and to help contain the spread of COVID-19. This means only a limited number of essential staff work in the office daily. Due to the limited staff presence, visitors to regional offices are discouraged unless necessary and scheduled in advance. Face masks or coverings are required for all staff and visitors in all SCYAP offices. Also, SCYAP staff follow numerous general safety precautions and protocols specifically implemented to limit the risk of COVID-19 exposure.
Each SCYAP Regional office has implemented procedures for routine disinfection of commonly touched surfaces, provision of hand sanitizer, signage regarding hand hygiene and social distancing, and other precautionary measures.
This year, SCYAP will help more than 2,000 children, families and youth. We know COVID-19 has impacted each of these lives to varying degrees. We are continually monitoring developments and will adapt protocols to best meet the health needs of our children, families, youth, foster parents and staff. We will get through this…together!