Q and A’s for questions and concerns that were raised March 26 and 27 2020 from the Communication Gathering Groups.

1. There is a provision for testing for “long term and congregate care facilities and “other similar facilities”. Currently it is my understanding this only applies to those who are funded and have AHS staff. It is under the “other similar facilities” I believe we should be included. We are working with a population that is complex and will not always follow the protocols that are set out by AHS. Ordinarily our staff are working with young people that can be violent, aggressive, and can have extreme behaviours. It is difficult for young people to follow these guidelines currently. It is even more when we have young people who are at times unable to regulate their emotions due to abuse, neglect and past trauma.

We are aware of the ongoing concern expressed by staff in group and residential care facilities. We are working with Community and Social Services as well as Alberta Health to identify some solutions.

2. We need clear provisions for what we should do with high extreme behaviours that are putting our staff at high risk. We had a child on the weekend who was to be isolating. During this period, he climbed out of his window and ran to the community. Although his symptoms from last week are no longer present, it is these behaviors that put our staff and communities at risk. In addition, he has spit at staff, licked staff, and clogged the toilet and flooded the bathroom so staff would clean it up.

We are aware of the ongoing concern expressed by staff in group and residential care facilities. We are working with Community and Social Services as well as Alberta Health to identify solutions.

3. We have received directions from multiple caseworkers that our staff (Edmonton) are to be calling police or NACIS if our youth are showing symptoms and refuse to contact 811, self-assessment or self-isolate. Have you heard this? Are others hearing this or is it similar to the misinformation out there?

Please follow the guidelines in the “Information For Contract Service Providers (Covid-19) CI Practice Response document posted on the ALIGN WEBPAGE Under Childrens Services Directives or found here March 26 CS Contract Service Providers Practice Guide.

4. Agencies are very nervous about the costs they are incurring. They would like to have something in writing that says that their costs will be covered. Both for the CI system and the DFNA systems.

Work is underway to ensure appropriate tracking and documentation of costs incurred by agencies in delivering services during the pandemic. Contract managers will begin reaching out next week to work with you on how best to track your costs.

5. I had a member agency call me yesterday and they provide services in two communities – one community was saying court order visits will be done by face-time or other electronic means; and the other was insistent on them taking children to visit. I said that if there was a very specific court order they needed to copy until the caseworker was able to get it changed, but if it says by any means possible, they likely were ok with face-time. But the point being is that 2 communities were telling them two different messages.

–  Should any face-to-face family or home visitation with staff be happening right now? If yes, what are the parameters?

Please follow the guidelines related to court ordered access in the “Information For Contract Service Providers (Covid-19) CI Practice Response document posted on the ALIGN WEBPAGE Under Childrens Services Directives or found here: March 26 CS Contract Service Providers Practice Guide

6. The biggest worries from Foster Care are:

a. Respite, people need to find respite and is there a reprieve on the CRC expectations so people can just use their family and close friends within reason;

b. PRAT investigation – what is happening? Often there is a requirement for enhanced supervision for a while and increase responsibility on caregivers. Is someone working on this? c. Approval of special rates and support plans. Can those just be through electronic methods or email?

d. Special rates if they need to be renewed will /should be extended for a few months for now. Correct?

e. Foster Care protocols – are there going to be some? Should we start with a draft like we did with group care? ALIGN is prepared to assist in developing.

Work is underway to support caregivers in a flexible use of respite and relief given the requirements on physical distancing etc. More guidance on this will be forthcoming. 

The newest practice guidances found here: March 26 CS Contract Service Providers Practice Guide and directs staff to extend special rates for two months if the circumstances for the caregiver and/or the child have not changed and that this can be done electronically.

PRAT has also been identified as an area where further guidance is required. A caregiver group is being established to address COVID related issues arising for caregivers. 

7. We will also need clarification around PICs for new staff and those needing renewals. NOTE: The Back Check is a bit confusing. CAC is accepting it but government hasn’t agreed to that?

Is there something that can be done to help support agencies in getting Criminal PIC’s done more efficiently at this time; i.e. like using systems like Back Check?

The Ministry is working on processes to support screening checks in circumstances where formal criminal record checks are not possible. Guidance on these processes will come out next week.

8. Answers to questions put forth to the Canadian Accreditation Council last week are as follow:

Can agencies be given leniency regarding staff training?

Yes, CAC is giving leniency for all training offsite and onsite.

Regarding training; once we are through Covid-19, CAC will then give a reasonable timeline for organizations to catch up on their training. In the meantime, I have asked organization to put a Covid note on staff files that are getting gaps in their training.

For the onsite that are being affected due to Covid-19, CAC is giving extension. What we are asking the organization to do is to send an email, to CAC Director, Deridre Gerro at dgerro@cacohs.com for her files requesting extensions.

In answer to your question about Back Check ?

Yes, of course we will accept Back Check during this time of Covid-19. Then once things are back to normal we will get back into the swing of things. Our organization needs to do what they need to do to keep our kids and staff safe and healthy. 

CAC assures ALIGN that they will give agencies all the support they need with absolutely no pressure. If you have any questions regarding accreditation contact Dee at 780 424-4498.

9. Insurance: With the City of Edmonton declaring a local state of Emergency on Friday, I know this will affect many organizations in the nonprofit sector (and some for profit with similar operations) as the operations many or most of you carry out, will be deemed essential creating a different kind of possible risk.

Everyone’s services are different, however can still come with common risk when needing to deliver essential services to those that are going to need it most around our City and Province.

If there are any changes to operations, please reach out to ensure you have properly reported these changes to your insurer as it could be a change of risk that needs to be reported. Changes could be:

–  Government requirements to assist with carrying out services at additional facilities.

–  Expanding services, will medical services be provided when previously they were not? Is this mandated by the Government?

Work is underway to address concerns about liability in circumstances where a child or staff contracts COVID through an interaction with a facility or an agency. All agencies should be talking to their own insurance providers for advice specific to their particular policy.

10. Will group care staff be able to get access to the child care that the health professionals are getting? This is an issue for some of the facilities and would be very helpful.

The first round of child care spaces that is being created is for medical staff only. Should that process be expanded, consideration may be given to Child Intervention staff and agencies who operate facilities; however that is not yet confirmed.  Will provide more information as it becomes available.

Please remember that staying current regarding information from Alberta Health Services and Government is necessary in this pandemic and you can find all the current information you need at this link https://www.alberta.ca/news.aspx.

Thank you,

Rhonda Barraclough, Executive Director