Children's Services

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The Department of Human Services (DHS) and Department of Education have released the below COVID-19 safety guidance documents to assist providers, families, and individuals during the provision of in-home services.

For additional guidance related to COVID-19, please visit the Department of Health COVID-19 in Pennsylvania and DHS COVID-19 Guidance and Resources pages.

If you have any questions, please contact your RCPA policy director.

Please join RCPA for a member update webinar on Thursday, December 17 from 9:00 am – 10:30 am. Michael Gamel-McCormick, Disability Policy Director from the Office of Senator Bob Casey, will lead a discussion on federal health-care-related issues critical to RCPA members.

RCPA policy staff will also review key issues. Pat Brier and Paul Dlugolecki from Brier Dlugolecki Strategies will present a budget update.

Please register here to participate. We look forward to your participation!

Workshop Series

  • Reminder: The Office of National Drug Control Policy has launched a new workshop series for rural faith leaders. It is entitled Empowering Faith Leaders to Help Persons with Substance Use Disorder. This is a series of four workshops that will allow rural faith leaders to share valuable information and resources. The first workshop, Substance Use Disorder and the Pandemic in Rural Communities, will take place on December 8, 2020 from 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm Eastern Standard Time. If you would like to attend, RSVP to Betty-Ann Bryce. Please include your name, title, organization, and contact information.

­Funding

  • The Department of Health and Human Services – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) is accepting applications for the fiscal year (FY) 2021 Statewide Family Network grant program (SFN). The purpose of this program is to more effectively respond to the needs of children, youth, and young adults with serious emotional disturbances (SED) and their families by providing information, referrals, and support; it will also create a mechanism for families to participate in state and local mental health services planning and policy development. The application due date is January 4, 2021.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) is accepting applications for the fiscal year (FY) 2021 Statewide Consumer Network grant program (SCN). The purpose of this program is to improve efforts to address the needs of adults with serious mental illness (SMI) by developing and/or expanding peer support services, peer leadership, and peer engagement strategies statewide. The application due date is January 4, 2021.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services – Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training (BHWET) Program for Professionals aims to increase the supply of behavioral health professionals while also improving distribution of a quality behavioral health workforce, thereby increasing access to behavioral health services. A special focus is placed on the knowledge and understanding of children, adolescents, and transitional-aged youth at risk for behavioral health disorders. The closing date is January 21, 2021.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services announces the opportunity to apply for funding under the National Telehealth Resource Center (NTRC) Program. The purpose of NTRCs is to support the delivery of telehealth technical assistance through Regional Telehealth Resource Centers (RTRCs). Two NTRCs may be funded. The closing date is January 21, 2021.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services announces the opportunity to apply for funding under the Regional Telehealth Resource Center (RTRC) Program. RTRCs assist health care organizations, health care networks, and health care providers in the implementation of cost-effective telehealth programs to serve rural areas and populations. RTRCs also assist patients and families living in rural areas with telehealth technology so that they can obtain health services. This notice of funding opportunity (NOFO) will support 12 RTRCs that focus on statewide and regional telehealth activities. The closing date is January 21, 2021.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services announces the opportunity to apply for funding under the Rapid Response Rural Data Analysis and Issue Specific Rural Research Studies Program. The purpose of this program is to assist rural communities with conducting rapid data analyses and short-term issue-specific rural research studies to understand the impact of current and proposed policies and regulations as well as provide information that will improve health care in rural America. The closing date is January 29, 2021.

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From National Council:

Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) released their COVID-19 vaccine distribution recommendations. We want to share an update on our ongoing efforts to ensure that behavioral health organizations are prioritized in our nation’s COVID-19 response.

As written, the CDC’s vaccine distribution recommendations have been left open-ended concerning whether or not behavioral health providers and organizations are included under the Phase 1 vaccination category.

Failing to specify whether behavioral health providers and organizations will have immediate vaccine access is unacceptable given the essential work done every day during the pandemic to provide life-saving mental health and substance use disorder treatment and services in communities across the country.

However, the panel’s recommendations are not yet final and must be approved by the CDC director before becoming official CDC state guidance.

To emphasize our point, we recruited partners and sent a letter this morning to US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar; CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD; and Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices Chair José Romero, MD, FAAP, calling for mental health and substance use providers to be included as essential frontline providers for the purposes of Phase 1 vaccine distribution.

We also released a public statement in response to the initial vaccine recommendations, citing the need for behavioral health providers and organizations to have uninhibited access to testing support, the funding necessary to meet increased demand, and Phase 1 vaccine distribution.

We are frontline and essential – and we will make sure that behavioral health providers and organizations get prioritized support.

If you have any questions, please contact us!

Earlier this year, Governor Wolf signed Act 18 of 2020, which temporarily extended the time period for certain professions required by the Child Protective Services Law (CPSL) to obtain or renew an FBI Criminal History clearance. Act 18 was passed to create flexibility since the pandemic caused many fingerprinting locations across the state to close earlier this year. Most locations have since reopened.

Pennsylvanians are strongly encouraged to get fingerprinted and obtain their FBI Criminal History clearance as soon as possible in order to avoid potential delays due to an increase in the number of people needing to obtain this clearance. To obtain a list of fingerprinting locations that are open during the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit the IdentoGO Location Map. Anyone seeking fingerprinting services should call IDEMIA’s customer service line at 844-321-2101 to ensure that the location is still operating, schedule an appointment, and discuss necessary COVID-19 safety precautions.

If employers have a large number of employees who need new or renewed clearances, arrangements can be made to have fingerprinting occur at the workplace. Mobile fingerprinting services are available for an additional fee through IDEMIA for groups of 20 or more. Agencies in need of this service should contact IDEMIA to schedule.

For directions on obtaining fingerprints, please visit this webpage.

If you have any questions or thoughts, please contact RCPA Policy Director Jim Sharp.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health, along with Apple and Google, has launched an exposure notification app called COVID Alert PA. It is available to download for free at the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

The app is an effective tool, but the commonwealth needs your help getting it in the hands of Pennsylvanians. We need help getting the word out – and downloads up.

Can you help us? We have an extensive catalog of marketing materials, including posters, social media posts, press releases, and other customizable content. You can find downloadable marketing materials on the Community Resources webpage.

COVID Alert PA is a free mobile app that uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology and the Exposure Notification System developed by Apple and Google. Features include:

  • Interactive COVID-19 symptom checker;
  • Opt-in for alerts concerning potential exposure to the virus;
  • Updates on the latest public health data about COVID -19; and
  • Language options available in English, Spanish, German, and traditional Chinese.

COVID Alert PA protects both privacy and personal information. The app does not use GPS, location services, or any movement or geographical information. It will never collect, transmit, or store personal information. It is completely anonymous.

Thank you in advance for helping to get the word out to your employees, customers, family, friends, and neighbors.

Thank you for your support!  

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The Office of Children, Youth, and Families (OCYF) has released Bulletin 3130-20-04, 3140-20-03, 3150-20-01, 3170-20-01, 3350-20-03, 3490-20-07, 3680-20-03, 3700-20-03, 3800-20-05, entitled “Procedures to Request Waiver of Regulation(s).” This bulletin and the new waiver submission procedures outlined therein will be effective immediately upon release.

The purpose of this bulletin is to advise all public and private children and youth social service agencies and child residential and day treatment programs licensed by OCYF of our revised procedures for processing waiver requests relating to all regulations governing children and youth social service programs. This new waiver process streamlines and expedites the processing of waiver requests and offers flexibility when possible to meet the needs of families and individuals. Attached to this bulletin, you will also find the updated form for requesting a waiver of regulation(s).

Please be advised that any waivers submitted to OCYF for processing prior to the dissemination of this bulletin and form will continue to be processed. Any waiver request submitted as of December 2, 2020 must be submitted through the new procedure.

Questions regarding regulatory requirements or licensure for your agency should still be directed to your applicable OCYF Regional Office. Any other questions about this bulletin, procedure, or form may be directed here.

If you have questions or feedback, please contact RCPA Children’s Director Jim Sharp.