Important Information for Kinship Caregivers, Birth Parents, Foster Parents & Community Partners
There is nothing more important to us than the families and communities we serve. ASCI is here for you and remains committed to providing the highest level of care for the families with whom we work. We are enhancing our practices and procedures to keep our families safe and contribute to the greater good of reducing the spread of COVID-19.
Our President and CEO Dr. Sharon McDaniel is leading our emergency response team. Our goal is to always keep children safe and to service their caregivers and birth families. During this challenging time, our team continues to meet regularly to assess the needs of our families and staff, making proper and immediate accommodations when needed.
Our important work to keep children safe and thriving has not stopped. We recognize that families may have an increased need for information, resources and support, so we are in continuous conversation with Allegheny County and the City of Philadelphia to coordinate services, share information and organize services like food delivery.
Additionally, Pennsylvania has plenty of assistance programs for food, bills, health care and housing that can help birth families and caregivers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. ASCI has compiled a comprehensive list of these programs, as well as important regional, state and national COVID-19 updates, tips for emotional and mental well-being, and tools to keep kids and teens busy at home.
Please read closely the following details regarding temporary changes to ASCI’s operations and services as we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are following state and local government procedure to stop the spread of the virus, but we are still available to children and families in need of services! It’s just going to look a little bit different.
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding ASCI’s
How Can I Receive Updated Information and Have My Questions Answered?
If you are experiencing any child care issues amid school and daycare closures, experiencing any other challenges or simply have questions or concerns regarding COVID-19, please call the Caregiver Crisis Hotline in your region:
Pittsburgh Caregiver Crisis Hotline: 412-852-6018
Philadelphia Caregiver Crisis Hotline: 267-713-0197
Can I Still Visit the ASCI Offices?
All locations will remain open on an adjusted schedule until further notice, but we are still working 24/7. We are concerned about each and every member of the Triad and staff and want to be available to meet their needs. If caregivers, youth or birth parents have concerns or questions, they should start by contacting their caseworkers. In the event that a caseworker is not available, we ask that the Caregiver Crisis Hotlines provided above be contacted. We will get back to you quickly.
Adjusted Hours of Operation
9 a.m.-12 p.m.
Why Are We Doing Business This Way?
We are practicing “social distancing,” which means staying away from larger crowds and only meeting when necessary, and recommend our families do this, too. The CDC strongly recommends limiting the time you spend in groups and in public. Try to avoid large groups of people and maintain distances from others of 6-10 feet if you must go out. We are doing this by ensuring our employees work from home.
Are Fingerprinting Services Still Available?
Yes, we are still doing fingerprinting through IdentoGO on the above-mentioned schedule, but we have established a new process that includes social distancing and cleaning the equipment between each appointment. We want to meet community needs in the most effective way while keeping our staff and clients safe.
Please work with your caseworker if you would like to make an appointment.
Is ASCI Still Conducting Enrichment Trainings for Caregivers?
During this time, our training will continue but will take place in one of three ways:
- Lifesize: a video conferencing system
- LMS training: an online training process
- USPS: a mailed training packet, so you can join by phone
For more information or to schedule please contact:
Pittsburgh: Leona Lane at 412-522-0303 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Philadelphia: Lydia Cooper at 267-210-0002 or email@example.com
You may also call our main numbers and ask to be connected:
Please leave a message with your name and phone number if our staff is unable to pick up when you call. We will return the call as soon as possible.
What About Recertification?
We are also contacting caregivers due for recertification and conducting recertification via these same platforms and protocols.
Please know that ASCI remains committed to certification and recertification of all caregivers. We are working diligently to accommodate our caregivers and complete this goal in a timely manner.
Will My Caseworker Still Visit My Home?
We want to hear from our children and see how they are doing during this very difficult time. However, this will happen virtually for most homes until further notice, so we can maintain the health, safety and well-being of our children, families and staff. We will continue conducting face-to-face visits in homes where it is needed. During these important visits (whether virtual or in person), we will be able to discuss additional needs for the children and families during this time.
What Should I Expect with a Home Visit at This Time?
Your caseworker will ask you to do a virtual walkthrough via your phone so they can get visual access.
Your caseworker will ask to speak to each child alone to engage them/do a virtual activity.
We want to hear your concerns and needs as a kinship caregiver to help support you during this time. If it is determined that a face-to-face home visit is the best way to support your family, we are still available to do so on a case-by-case basis.
As we work together through this difficult time, we wanted to let you know some of the changes with our face-to-face home visits as a way to keep both you and our workers safe.
Your caseworker will call you ahead of the home visit. If you do not answer the phone and a caseworker stops by your home, they will maintain a safe distance from the door before asking you the following questions:
- Do you have any symptoms of a respiratory infection, such as cough, sore throat, fever or shortness of breath?
- Have you had contact with any person exhibiting these symptoms or with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 within the past 14 days?
If you answer no to these questions, the caseworker will work with you as usual, but will adhere to these precautionary measures:
- No shaking of hands.
- Maintaining an appropriate distance (six feet away).
- Wearing a mask and gloves, as this is for your safety and that of the caseworker.
If you respond yes to either of these questions, we will ask you to stay at home and to call your doctor immediately. If you have urgent needs for your family, please communicate them to your caseworker by calling, texting or emailing them at that time.
Any additional questions and/or concerns, please contact the Caregiver Crisis Hotlines within your respective region: (412) 852-6018 for Pittsburgh and (267) 713-0197 for Philadelphia.
What Is the Status of Birth Parent Visitations?
We believe that visits with birth parents are essential and that every child has a right to see their parents. During this time, we are balancing state and local requirements on visitation and travel. Due to government mandates, in-person birth parent visitations are temporarily suspended.
However, we highly recommend making contact via phone or computer. Facetime, Skype and other apps allow you to see one another and make a connection. If that is not possible, phone calls should be used.
It is our hope that while families may not be able to be with one another face-to-face, they will arrange to spend quality time together through these digital options.
If caregivers have questions about initiating virtual visits between kinship children and their birth parents, they should contact their caseworkers. Birth parents with questions should contact their POC caseworkers.
Are Support Groups Available?
All support groups in Philadelphia are currently unavailable. Our team is working to create digital options for those interested in support groups and will update clients if this becomes available.
Our Pittsburgh birth parents can join the Birth Parent Support Group by phone. Please contact Lelia Broughton at 412-738-0778 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
What Should I Do in the Event of an Emergency?
When emergency situations arise on weekdays between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., please call your Child and Family Services caseworker. If your caseworker is not available, or you receive the caseworker’s voice mailbox, press 0 (zero) and you will be transferred to the receptionist. Request to speak with the caseworker’s supervisor and tell the receptionist that an emergency exists.
Our normal on-call system is still in place in both offices for night and weekend emergencies.
When emergency situations arise on weekdays after 4:30 p.m. and on weekends or holidays, please call 215-564-0790 in Philadelphia or 412-342-0600 in Pittsburgh. The telephone will be answered by our answering service, who will forward a message to the on-call supervisor for resolution of the emergency situation.
Are ASCI Events Still On?
Unfortunately, like other groups and organizations, we found it necessary to follow CDC recommendations to cancel large group events. As such, all ASCI events through April have been postponed. Details about rescheduled and future events will be posted on our blog and social media pages when we are able to reevaluate.