Resource Parents Need to Be Vaccinated
February 3, 2021
California Alliance of Caregivers, Fostering Unity, and the San Luis Obispo County Foster/Resource Family Association, the California State Foster Parent Association, the County Welfare Directors Association, and the California Alliance of Child & Family Services sent a letter to Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly and Director Kim Johnson asking for Resource Parents to be immediately prioritized for the Covid-19 vaccine. Resource Parents have been taking placement of children and youth with exposure to Covid-19 or with an active infection. Resource Parents have also been exposed through court-mandated in-person visitation with biological families. Children cannot be reunified with their families without participating in visitation. Many families are not willing to take new placements until they are vaccinated to reduce their risk. Download the letter with attachments or read here:
Dear Secretary Dr. Ghaly & Director Johnson,
We are writing to urge you to clarify the priority in which Resource Parents can receive a COVID-19 vaccination by their health care provider, and/or by their county of residence. We urge the State to issue guidance to public health departments to classify resource parents to the State’s foster children and youth under Phase 1a, Tier 2a “Community health workers, including promotoras” in order to obtain immediate access to vaccines.1
Resource Parents are currently caring for California’s abused and neglected children who cannot remain safely in their home of origin. They are placed in the homes of Resource Parents who are working on the state’s and counties’ behalf to care for children and youth in their own homes. They have been recruited to serve as VOLUNTEERS (paid only a stipend to meet the child’s own needs). They often do not know if the children have been exposed (through no fault of their own) to the virus prior to their placement. Unfortunately, we know of Resource Parents who have been infected by previously exposed children who have been placed in their homes.
Our organizations urge that Resource Parents be in the same vaccination classification or tier as IHSS (In Home Support Services) workers.2 Abused and neglected children require close proximity to, and often hands-on care from, their Resource Parents, especially young children and those who have other medical conditions requiring hands- on support.
In addition, court-ordered visitation between children in foster care and their biological parents, which supports reunification, presents another source of possible exposure for Resource Parents who provide support for these in-person visits.
Exposure to the COVID-19 virus from visitation has put Resource Parents and their vulnerable family members at very great risk.
- Resource Parents volunteer their time and homes to care for children in foster care.
- Resource Parents are currently enduring great and dangerous exposure to COVID-19. This exposure can now be mitigated by the state.
- Resource Parents support reunification to biological families by facilitating in person visits, thereby putting themselves and other family members at great risk of exposure to the virus.
- Resource Parents are an asset of the state, opening their hearts and homes to foster youth, and are an important alternative to congregate care.
- Some older youth who have run away are asked by counties to accept a youth back into their homes to avoid shelter care or congregate care placement, but in doing so, they risk exposure.
- Fears of exposure has hampered counties’ and nonprofit agencies’ efforts at recruitment of new resource families and is reducing the number of families available to care for foster children.
Resource Parents provide the very bedrock in which our child welfare system is built upon, many of those caregivers are no longer taking placements due to their high risk of contracting the virus.
In closing, Resource Parents were overlooked when the state issued guidance for vaccination tiers. It is unacceptable to require these parents to fend for themselves in obtaining vaccinations as the age-based tiers open, especially given the differences in vaccine availability across the state. Further, Resource Parents are providing in-home care to children and youth in close proximity where exposure may not be known and where precautions (such as social distancing, etc.) are not possible, very much like IHSS providers.
This problem can be immediately remedied by providing counties with the clarification our organizations request. Resource Parents deserve the same prioritization as essential, frontline workers, similar to IHSS workers, by the nature of their work in taking in-home placement of foster children and supporting in-person visitation. We sincerely hope that no Resource Parents have to lose their lives as a result of providing the very great gift of a loving home for abused and neglected children.
Jenn Rexroad, Executive Director, California Alliance of Caregivers
Dorothy Daniels, Executive Director, Fostering Unity
Patricia Negus, President, California State Foster Parent Association
Marylud Baldwin, President, SLO County Foster/Resource Parent Association
Cathy Senderling-McDonald, Executive Director, County Welfare Directors Association Christine Stoner-Mertz, Chief Executive Officer, California Alliance of Child & Family Services