In this course, you can expect to learn:
Foundational knowledge of COVID-19
Strategies to prevent contracting the virus
Ways to support young people during this crisis
Step 1: Read basic information about Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and watch a video about COVID-19
What is COVID-19 or novel coronavirus?
According to the Centers for Disease Control or (CDC), Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.
How does COVID-19 spread?
According to the CDC, the virus that causes COVID-19 probably emerged from an animal source, but is now spreading from person to person. The virus is thought to spread mainly between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It also may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
How can I prevent COVID-19?
People can help protect themselves from respiratory illness with everyday preventive actions:
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
For more complete information, please review this factsheet from the CDC.
Step 2: Let’s dig a little deeper on the how to prevent COVID-19…
There are 3 main ways to avoid getting COVID-19...
Avoiding close contact with sick people:
- The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. (Source CDC, 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention.html)
Avoid close contact with people who are sick
Put distance between yourself and other people, if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
Remind young people in your home that just because a person doesn't seem sick, does not mean they aren't carrying the virus and could become sick in a few days.
- People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).
- Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
Hand washing and disinfecting:
Because it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, we need to be washing our hands regularly and cleaning surfaces. While this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, every precaution to reduce transmission is worth it.
Let's wash our hands...
We wash our hands many times throughout the day, but we need to follow special procedures to clean our hands more thoroughly during this time.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
Watch this short video on the proper hand washing technique (1:25).
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
To keep hand-washing fun, print out a Wash your Lyrics Poster. Ask a young person their favorite song or work as a family to select a song for the week or the next few days and everyone can sing out loud while they wash their hands.
For young children, try Sesame Street’s H is for Handwashing.
Also, everyone should wipe down their phones, laptops, tablets, remotes, and commonly touched items. The CDC suggests that you clean and disinfect regularly.
Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily (at least). This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
Most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work to kill COVID-19. Use disinfectants appropriate for the surface. Cleaning supplies have been in short supply, but regular household items like bleach or alcohol can work.
Diluting your household bleach.
To make a bleach solution, mix:
5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water
- OR -
4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water
Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted.
Ensure solution has at least 70% alcohol.
Other common EPA-registered household disinfectants, including products with EPA-approved emerging viral pathogens
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products (e.g., concentration, application method and contact time, etc.).
Getting chores done...
Let's be honest, getting chores done around the house is a challenge for any parent and so any way you can make this fun for you and your kids is worth the effort.Here are a few ideas to keep the mood light while we scrub down:
- Play music - play something up tempo, if possible
- Make cleaning a game - each chore is worth points, whoever gets the most points wins!
- Clean against the clock- who can disinfect the door knobs the fastest?
- Put on a movie or show - the little distraction will keep your mind off of the task at hand
Reducing contact with others
Because COVID-19 can incubate for up to two weeks before showing symptoms, the CDC and White House have suggested several things to slow the spread of COVID-19:
- No gatherings larger than 10
- No dining out (some states have closed dining rooms), take out, drive-thru, or delivery is fine
- Avoid non-emergency travel, shopping trips, and social visits.
- Do not visit facilities like nursing homes, prisons, or other large group long-term care facilities (send emails, letters, if permitted, and whatever else is allowed to know you care about the people in these spaces)
Practice Social Distancing
According to Johns Hopkins, "Social distancing is deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness. Staying at least six feet away from other people lessens your chances of catching COVID-19."
In addition to the six feet away concept, examples of social distancing that allow you to avoid larger crowds or crowded spaces are:
- Working from home instead of at the office
- Closing schools or switching to online classes
- Visiting loved ones by electronic devices instead of in person
- Cancelling or postponing conferences and large meetings
Quarantining & Isolation
The CDC says:
Isolation and quarantine help protect the public by preventing exposure to people who have or may have a contagious disease.
- Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick.
- Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.
People who have been exposed to the new coronavirus and who are at risk for coming down with COVID-19 might practice self-quarantine. Self-quarantine involves:
- Using standard hygiene and washing hands frequently
- Not sharing things like towels and utensils
- Staying at home
- Not having visitors
- Staying at least 6 feet away from other people in your household
Step 3: Talking to your young people about COVID-19
Step 3: How to talk to kids about COVID-19
There is a lot of fear around this virus, the good news is younger people are not neccesarily at an increased risk, as is the case with many other diseases (source: CDC, 2020: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/children.html)
While your parental instincts might make you want to shield your young person from the news about COVID-19, it is best to talk to your young people, in an age appropriate manner.
If you need to talk to very young children about COVID-19, here is great resource to talk to young children.
Another strategy is to use a Kid's Comic Book about the virus.
- Don't be afraid to talk about the virus
- Answer questions and be factual, try to find your own sense of calmness in these conversations
- Try to stick a routine, even if it is a new routine
Step 4: Supporting Your Young People Through the Crisis
Basic Needs Support
To support young people through this crisis, let’s start with basic needs: food, water, housing.
Consider a pick-up or delivery service for groceries for your own house or for the household of a youth previously in your care. Wait times have increased for pick-up and delivery services, but reducing your contact with others is worth the wait.
Consider reaching out to older youth previously in your care. They may left your house 6 months ago or 6 years ago, they could still benefit from being check-in on. During this crisis, making sure you are in regular communication may make all the difference for young people previously in your care.
- Check-in on them. Make sure they have food, water, and housing.
- If a young person who you used to care for left your house to go to college and you have the space to do it, now might be the time to check with them on safe housing. Many colleges and universities are closing residence halls and young people may need a temporary place to stay.
- Check out our page of resources: www.fosterclub.com/C19
- See also our blog about how to send emergency cash.
- Social distance does not have to mean social isolation, find ways to connect
- Provide age-appropriate information about the crisis
- Use the 3 R’s: Reassurance, Routines, and Regulation.
- Visit: https://www.cdc.gov/childrenindisasters/helping-children-cope.html to learn about helping your young people cope
- Download this factsheet from National Child Traumatic Stress Network on how to cope with this crisis
- Support the emotional well-being of children
Here is great list of resources from the Alliance for Children's Rights
Here is a document about why reading to kids is important, now is the time to connect with books
Here is a link to videos from KVC Health Systems' weekly webinar series
Visitation & Family Connections
If you can facilitate online visits, between young people and their families, there are many ways to keep everyone safe, while also making sure these important connections remain. Discuss how young people may be worried about the health and safety of their family members during this crisis. Talking to them - and even better, seeing them - can make it easier
Virtual visits: Whether you use Google Hangouts, Zoom, FaceTime, or other virtual calling platforms, connecting young people with family in this way can prevent the spread of the virus and keep families connected. Here are 5 tips for video chats: https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/2535-five-tips-to-make-the-most-of-video-chats
Phone calls: increasing the number of calls, if possible/allowable, is really important during this time.
Sharing audio files: if a parent can create an audio file and send it to you, playing that might bring some comfort.
For more information, see Chronicle of Social Change’s article about family visits:
Keeping Youth TECHnically Connected – April 14, 2020
Life can be difficult as a teenager in foster care, and COVID-19 has added huge new challenges that impact both youth and their resource families. Join QPI and a panel of California youth to learn how to partner with youth in your care to use technology and social media creatively to keep youth connected to family and community, and navigate some of the worries and concerns families may have about the online world. Click here for a recording of this webinar.
Using Media Effectively with Young Children and Virtual Visitation (Part 1) – April 7, 2020
While in-person visitation is the best way to support families, it isn’t always possible during this emergency. Dr. Rachel Barr will share research on how to use remote and virtual communication to maintain and strengthen relationships. Dr. Barr is a professor at Georgetown University and has conducted research on media and young children for over 25 years. She has served as a consultant for Sesame Street on media and very young children. She partnered with the Youth Law Center to create a media-based intervention for incarcerated teen parents. Click here for a recording of this webinar.
Using Media Effectively with Young Children and Virtual Visitation (Part 2) – April 9, 2020
While sheltering at home, families will become more reliant than ever on “screens,” TV, computers, and other media. This webcast, also presented by Dr. Rachel Barr, will focus on how parents can navigate the digital media world with their toddlers and how media can be a useful tool for parents to support intellectual, educational and emotional development. Digital play, where adults and children interact around media is a way to build connections and avoid isolation. Click here for a recording of this webinar.
The Power of Connection: How Resource Families Can Support Adolescents Through the COVID-19 Crisis – March 31, 2020
YLC’s Executive Director Jennifer Rodriguez in conversation with national adolescent development expert Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg, MD, MSEd, Co-Director of the Center for Parent and Teen Communication at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Dr. Ginsburg shares the science behind why resource and foster families are so important to adolescents during this national crisis, and practical tips and guidance for the best ways resource families (and all families) can support youth in foster care right now to weather this challenge and thrive. Click here for a recording of this webinar.
If your state has closed its courts, this can negatively impact young people. Try to reassure young people that things will be rescheduled when the immediacy of this crisis is over.
With so many schools closed around the country (as of March 16, 2020, 30 states closed schools), you may have kids at home and may be struggling to figure out what to do next. Here is an activity guide to help.
What if you are home from work and the kids are home from school?
Chronicle of Social Change stated that, “The House “Families First Coronavirus Response” bill includes an emergency paid leave benefit that would be available to foster parents who had to stay home as a result of school closure. The benefit would pay two-thirds of salary up to a maximum $4,000 monthly benefit.” Check with your local agency for more information. Please note this is pending legislation that has yet to be ratified.
Even More Resources