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License homes while social distancing

The Play

License new foster homes with minimal physical contact by conducting everything by email, phone, and video except fingerprinting and a single, brief in-person safety walkthrough.

Who Can Do This?: Anyone
Cost: Low
Timeframe: Immediate
Difficulty: Depends on your current process

The Problem It Solves

Some child welfare systems have paused licensing for some or all new families in order to limit in-person contact, because they mistakenly believe that federal regulations require the licensing process to be conducted in person. These delays mean losing homes, especially those of relatives, in a time when placement options are already severely limited.

How To Do This

Outcomes Data

States with contracts for community-based fingerprinting sites report the same processing times as before the pandemic.

States that require tuberculosis tests and/or medical physicals–two tests that require in-person visits to clinics– report that these are the most difficult requirements for families to complete during the pandemic.

From March to May 2020, the child welfare systems using the online tool Binti for foster parent licensing, which collectively serve approximately 17% of the nation’s foster youth, have:

Who’s Doing This?

Rhode Island has continued licensing homes, limiting in-person contact to a single 20-minute walkthrough that includes using a mobile fingerprinting machine to fingerprint all adult household members.