Your One-Stop for COVID-19 Updates


With information coming at you from so many directions, we wanted to provide easy access to announcements and updates from Embrace Families during the COVID-19 health emergency. Refer back to this blog frequently to locate an archive of information in chronological order. Keep in mind that, in this fast-changing environment, the most recent information will be the most current and accurate.

TOPIC: COVID-19 Medical Care Information for Caregiver Families

Caregiver Families: You can find the most accurate and updated information about the Coronavirus, especially as it impacts our children in foster care, through the CBC Integrated Health website.

Go to https://www.cbcih.net/covid-19

POSTED: Updated Daily

UPDATED: July 6, 2021     

TOPIC: COVID-19 vaccine available to children age 12 and up

At this time, any child aged 12 and up is eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine.  However, since there are a number of procedures necessary before a child in foster care can be vaccinated, we want to make sure that you are familiar with the necessary steps.

Click here to view a copy of information has been provided to our case management team members. This document details procedures necessary to follow when pursuing vaccinations. Please note that, unless there has been a termination of parental rights, the child’s parents retain the authority to make this decision. If age and developmentally appropriate, the child should also be consulted in this decision. 

P.S. We encourage everyone to learn more about COVID-19 vaccinations. Here are some helpful resources:

English: Community Leader Talking Points Revised 3-8-21 (floridablue.com)

Covid-19 vaccine – Myth vs. Fact Flier (floridablue.com)

Spanish: Community Leader Talking Points (floridablue.com)

Covid-19 vaccine – Myth vs. Fact Flier SPANISH (floridablue.com)

UPDATED: March 4, 2021     PREVIOUSLY POSTED: April 23, 2020; November 17, 2020 

TOPIC: Self-quarantine required following travel

While our travels (even to the grocery store!) are few and far between during this time of COVID, we wanted to clarify the Embrace Families’ policy related to travel by any within our system of care.  This includes our Embrace Families staff  and provider partners, as well as our caregiver community. 

Here is the stated policy:  In an effort to limit the spread of Coronavirus in our area, we are increasing precautions around travel.

Effective immediately, any individual who is currently traveling, or planning to travel, on a cruise, internationally or to an area with a Level 3 Travel Health Notice must self-quarantine upon their return for the recommended incubation period of 14 days.  This means that they may not report to an Embrace Families office or interact directly with our clients for 14 calendar days after their return, and only if they show no symptoms of the virus.  This self-quarantine requirement may be waived if the individual gets a test ten days after the travel is completed and that test is negative. Upon providing proof of that negative result, the individual may return to the office; see clients; or, if a caregiver, be available for a new placement.

NOTE: “Test” is the tool used to diagnose COVID-19.  Currently there are several tests being used. When Embrace Families requests testing, Embrace Families is referencing a Molecular test.  Antigen tests (rapid tests) have not been found to be reliable.  Antibody tests do not test an active virus; they indicate whether a person previously had COVID-19.

Of particular note to caregivers: During the self-quarantine period described above, we will be unable to place any children in your home. That restriction will be removed only after a minimum of 14 days, and only if there are no symptoms of the virus.  Therefore, if you are planning travel outside the country or to a Level 3 location, it is important that you alert us as soon as possible, so that we can ensure our intake and placement team is aware of the placement restriction.

How to alert us to your travel plans: For the foreseeable future, in addition to notifying us about your travel plans via an email to FPVacation@embracefamilies.org, we ask that you call Jill Spannagel, Director of Utilization Management, at 321-441-2065.  We will appreciate notification at the earliest opportunity after your travel arrangements are made.  While we realize that this request is above and beyond our standard notification requirements, as outlined on pages 21-22 of the Embrace Families Foster Parent Handbook, we are confident you will understand that unique times call for unique levels of preparation and understanding.

Thank you again for being truly remarkable partners during this remarkable time.

POSTED: November 13, 2020

TOPIC: Embrace Families Phased Reopening, Policies, and Protocols

While our agency remains fully operational, Embrace Families’ office and service center locations are currently closed to all but essential services. Decisions regarding when to reopen our buildings will be data driven and consistent with CDC and Health Department guidelines. A phased reopening plan is expected. We regularly update our plans for reopening, as well as how we respond to incidences of virus exposure or infection, as new information becomes available.

Click here to review Embrace Families Phased Reopening, Policies, and Protocols.

POSTED: August 6, 2020

TOPIC: FL Dept of Health Guidelines for COVID-19 exposure/infection*

* Note: For the section regarding Timeline for stopping self-isolation: we are requiring 14 days instead of just 10 days.

UPDATEDAugust 4, 2020         PREVIOUSLY POSTED: May 18, 2020; June 2, 2020

TOPIC: Updated guidelines for face-to-face family visitation

Click here to review guidelines from Embrace Families re: supervised family visitation.

Click here to review required screening questions.

Click here for tips to reduce infection in the home.

Whenever possible, virtual visits have been encouraged between children and their families.  We are grateful that this new process for visitation has gone well, and recognize the essential role our caregivers play in keeping those connections going.

Recognizing the importance of maintaining connections between children in out-of-home care with their parents and siblings,  Embrace Families has encouraged a process that will allow the restarting of face-to-face visitation.  Priority groups for this updated visitation process include children under the age of five and families close to reunification.

These new protocols are designed to ensure the health and well-being of all involved, including children, parents, caregivers and the workers who facilitate visitation.  Every precaution will be taken to maintain appropriate social distancing and all necessary health safeguards.  We will continue to take these extra precautions as long as recommended and necessary. 

Whenever considering family visitation, we must be aware of court orders relating to visitation and ensure our compliance with those orders.  In this time of a pandemic, the courts have issued orders to suspend some mandated visitation, but have allowed visitation if parties agree. 

Here is a summary of the local courts’ most recent orders regarding family visitation:

Orange/Osceola County Court Cases:   The recommended format for parent and sibling visitation continues to be by electronic means, with video communication preferred and telephonic communication permitted when video is not feasible.

–         In-person visitation is permitted only if all parties, including the caregiver, agree; and only if the visitation can take place in a manner that does not pose a health threat to anyone participating in the visit.

Seminole County Court Cases:  The recommended format for parent and sibling visitation continues to be by electronic means, with video communication preferred and telephonic communication permitted when video is not feasible.

–         All supervised in-person parent and sibling visitation supervised by DCF or any of our partner agencies is suspended from July 20 to August 31, 2020.  Supervised visitations supervised by family members or others in the community can continue if all parties, including the caregiver, agree.

–         Unsupervised in-person visitation is permitted only if all parties, including the caregiver, agree; and only if the visitation can take place in a manner that does not pose a health threat to anyone participating in the visit.

POSTED: July 15, 2020

TOPIC: Guidelines for Embrace Families Mentors

Limitations on in-person visitation due to COVID-19 health concerns have changed the way that our legacy mentors are able to interact with their mentees, but the need for positive interactions with their mentors has never been greater for our kids.

Click here to review guidelines for Embrace Families mentors. 

UPDATED: July 1, 2020   PREVIOUSLY POSTED: March 25; April 3; April 28; June 3, June 24

TOPIC: Judicial Court schedule changes during COVID-19 health emergency 

We continue to receive schedule changes and updates from local court systems.   Throughout the Central Florida region, until further notice, in-person contact is not advised, essential hearings are limited, and non-essential hearings will be held virtually. This includes the  Court’s Dependency Divisions.  All safety measures will remain in place for essential hearings.  

Click here for details  from each of our region’s court systems.

POSTED: June 19, 2020

TOPIC: Child Welfare Worker Safety in the Time of COVID-19

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has issued recommendations for in-person interactions between child welfare workers and families during this time of continued health concern.

To access information from the CDC:

UPDATED: May 8, 2020          PREVIOUSLY POSTED: March 23, 2020; March 26, 2020

TOPIC: Guidelines re: frequency of virtual visits extended from every 14 days to every 21 days

Click here to review updated guidelines from Embrace Families re: Frequency of Caseworker Visits During COVID-19.

Please note that, in response to the needs of our caregiver families, Embrace Families has adjusted its requirement related to the frequency of virtual visits.  Effective May 8, 2020,  the guidelines for frequency of virtual visits will be extended to a minimum of every 21 days.  (Note: The prior requirement had been that virtual visits must be conducted a minimum of every 14 days.)

All other requirements designed to ensure the safety of both the professionals who work for our partner agencies and the families that we serve, remain in place and our outlined in the attached document.  A summary of those guidelines, which are to be followed throughout the current COVID-19 health emergency, is as follows:

1) Home Visitation — Virtual: In accordance with CBC recommendations and local “stay at home” orders,  virtual services and/or visits with children and families are strongly recommended. When providing virtual services, applications such as Skype, FaceTime and Google Duo are required.  Beginning in May 2020, virtual visits should be scheduled at least every 21 days (a minimum of every three weeks).

2) Home Visitation — Face to Face: If, due to safety concerns for the child(ren), a family, caregiver or child must be seen face-to-face, staff professionals are required to follow safety precautions as recommended by the CDC guidelines. These include: screening for COVID-19 symptoms within the home, maintaining a safe social distance (6 feet or more), scheduling meetings and services in outdoor locations, etc. 

3) Parent and Sibling Visitation: While every attempt should be made to keep parents and siblings in touch, adjustments are necessary during this period of time.  Effective immediately, Seminole County Court has issued an order suspending all face-to-face parent/sibling visits.  In Orange and Osceola Counties, court orders requiring face-to-face visits must be followed, but brought immediately to the attention of NetworkSupport@embracefamilies.org.  If a face-to-face is necessary, then the home must be screened for risk of exposure to COVID -19 and potential sickness prior to a visit. In addition, throughout the quarantine period, Case Managers should be communicating with parents to educate them on the seriousness and effects of the virus spread; and stressing that — to keep the children, themselves and staff safe — visits will be held via Skype, FaceTime or Google Duo. If those methods are not available, a telephone call can take place to ensure visitation.

These guidelines are in effect as of May 8, 2020 and will be in effect for the duration of our state and local COVID-19 response.  Please share this information with staff; and please reach out to NetworkSupport@embracefamilies.org with any questions or concerns.

UPDATED: April 22, 2020  

TOPIC: DCF temporary guidelines re: background screenings

The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) has released temporary guidelines (through June 1, 2020) that allow for exceptions to background screening requirements.  This is due to the current inability of agencies to conduct required screens for purposes to include: employment, licensure, and planned placements (change of placement: relatives/NR/Other Parent).  The process for conducting name checks through DCF is outlined in the attached memorandum.

Click here to view DCF temporary guidelines. 

UPDATED: April 15, 2020  

TOPIC: Recognizing symptoms of COVID-19

Are you concerned that your child may have the Coronavirus?  Here is a quick guide to what to look for and what steps to take.

Click here for guidance on what to look for.

POSTED: April 3, 2020

TOPIC: IRS announces “what you need to know” about COVID-19 economic impact payments

As has been widely reported in the news media, individuals and families across America will be eligible to receive a direct payment through the federal government, which is intended to help households impacted by the COVID-19 economic slowdown.  

Click here for “What you need to know” information about this economic impact payment from the IRS.

POSTED: April 1, 2020

TOPIC: Embrace Families’ Children’s Advocacy Center Osceola open for business during COVID-19

CAC Osceola provides specialized care to child abuse victims and their non-offending caregivers.  This essential service remains open and fully operational during the COVID-19 community health emergency.

Click here for up-to-date information and advice from our team at CAC Osceola.  In Seminole County contact Kids House and in Orange County contact The Howard Phillips Center for Children & Families.

POSTED: March 29, 2020

TOPIC:  When and How to Report Coronavirus Symptoms

With the rise in reported cases of COVID-19 in Florida, we are working to ensure that information being disseminated is factual and that all of the children and families we support are safe.

Click here for information you need if you, or someone in your home, are experiencing symptoms associated with Coronavirus.

POSTED: March 24, 2020

TOPIC: Stay At Home Order takes effect Thursday, March 26 at 11 p.m.

Please note that the order from Orlando and Orange County specifically states that businesses that provide social services are deemed essential.  Employees working for Embrace Families and our provider partners will be allowed to leave their homes, as necessary, for official business.  However, for their safety and the safety of others, we will limit face-to-face visitation as much as possible.  Thank you for your cooperation as we work through this unprecedented time together.

POSTED: March 22, 2020

TOPIC: FREE meals from local schools 

Caregivers, make plans to access FREE meals from local schools March 23-27! Districts are providing meals for ALL children under the age of 18. Families may go to the nearest participating site and pick-up meals through the school’s bus loop (drive-thru service). Check your district’s link for more details.

ORANGE: http://bit.ly/ocpsgrabandgomeals
Pick-up 10 AM — 2 PM

OSCEOLA: https://bit.ly/33C25sl
Pick-up 9:30 — 11:00 AM

SEMINOLE: https://bit.ly/2U9SCpi
Pick-up 10:30 AM — 1 PM

POSTED: March 21, 2020

TOPIC: Placement policy for children with symptoms or exposure to COVID-19

Throughout this pandemic we are monitoring many sources and taking steps to ensure every precaution is taken and best practices are in place to keep our children and families safe.

At this point, we haven’t had any children come into care with symptoms of exposure. Of course, if and when that happens, we would provide that information upfront. But, to be honest, if a child comes in that was exposed, or has symptoms, our intent would not be to put them with a foster family and expose that family to risk. We are working on alternate placement options with appropriate medical care.

We will continue to provide updates on an ongoing basis.

POSTED: March 19, 2020

TOPIC: Words of thanks to our community of partners

Message to Embrace Families Caregivers: https://youtu.be/ev_PAWIgK0E

Message to Embrace Families Providers and Partners: https://youtu.be/DM2S9vLZfBw

Message to Embrace Families Staff: https://youtu.be/ZWXl83fYgsw

POSTED: March 17, 2020

TOPIC: Embrace Families Building Closure

The below information addresses new requirements related to building access and work-from-home procedures that went into effect today for the Embrace Families team members and our co-located partners.

Please be assured that all of us remain fully committed to providing services to your family and the children in your care, but to do that in accordance with recommended “social distancing” best practices designed to keep all of us healthy and safe.  Our operations will continue to be fully staffed and functioning, but our buildings will be closed to visitors and much of our work will be done in remote locations.  There are a couple of important exceptions: If supervised, in-person visitation is required by court order, arrangements will be made for alternate visitation meeting locations. Similarly, most regular meetings and home visits will be held via phone, skype or facetime rather than in person, unless otherwise required by court order.

If you are not sure how this change in procedure will impact your home or upcoming visits, please reach out CaregiverEligibility@EmbraceFamilies.org for clarification.

As you know, all of these measures are being taken as part of a nationwide effort to reduce the occurrence of a highly contagious virus.   We ask that you continue to be diligent with your own health and the health of those around you.  We appreciate you and are here to help.

POSTED: March 14, 2020

TOPIC: COVID-19 Information for Caregiver Families

Caregiver Families: You can find the most accurate and updated information about the Coronavirus, especially as it impacts our children in foster care, through the CBC Integrated Health website.

Go to https://www.cbcih.net/covid-19