COVID-19 and Child Welfare: A Series of Virtual Meetings


Young Hispanic Family Beach

NCSL’s Children and Families Program hosted a five-part series of interactive virtual meetings aimed at examining the impact of COVID-19 in the subject areas of interest to you in this unprecedented time.

This series highlighted state and federal policy responses to COVID-19 in the child welfare system. Sessions featured state legislators and legislative staff, NCSL staff and other experts. Participants were given the opportunity to share what is happening in their state, ask questions and let NCSL know how we can best assist during this time.

COVID-19: A National Perspective on Child Welfare

For the first installment in NCSL’s five-part series of virtual meetings on COVID-19 and child welfare, we welcomed Dr. Jerry Milner, an associate commissioner with the federal Children’s Bureau. Along with a panel of state legislators, Dr. Milner provided an overview of the impact COVID-19 is having on the nation’s child welfare system. They also discussed the implementation of the Family First Prevention Services Act and how federal and state governments are responding to the challenges.


  • Dr. Jerry Milner, associate commissioner of the Children's Bureau
  • Representative Tana Senn (D-Wash.)
  • Senator Whitney Westerfield (R-Ky.)

COVID-19: Supporting the Child Welfare Workforce

Child welfare caseworkers are essential in investigating maltreatment, providing in-home services, responding to substance abuse crises, coordinating visitation and reunification services, and responding to the social needs of the children they serve. With COVID-19, caseworkers are using new methods to fulfill these responsibilities. In this virtual meeting, NCSL will explore how states are addressing in-person visits with children and families, securing safety equipment to ensure caseworkers can continue to serve vulnerable populations, and otherwise ensuring children’s safety during the pandemic.



  • Dr. Mary McCarthy, co-principal investigator for the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute, University at Albany
  • Representative Jonathan Singer (D-Colo.)
  • Representative Tarah Toohil (R-Pa.)

COVID-19: Understanding the Needs of Foster and Kinship Caregivers

Foster families are in short supply during the best of times. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn, the shortage is particularly acute, and for those who have opened their homes and their hearts to children in the system, the challenges can be great. Wath as NCSL discusses ways states can promote kinship care, build a sufficient supply of foster families, and provide caregivers with training and protective equipment so they can safely coordinate children’s medical, education and other needs while navigating stay-at-home restrictions.



  • Jennifer Rodriguez, executive director of the Youth Law Center
  • Senator Ron Grooms (R-Ind.)
  • Representative Rena Moran (D-Minn)

COVID-19: Child Welfare Placements in an Uncertain Time

The 2018 federal Family First Prevention Services Act is catalyzing major changes in child welfare systems. One provision of the bill aims to reduce the use of congregate care by restricting federal reimbursements for non-family placements. In the fourth installment of NCSL’s COVID-19 and child welfare series, we focus on long-standing challenges in congregate care settings, how COVID-19 exacerbates these problems, and how Family First could address them.



  • Anne Teigen, program director for NCSL's Criminal Justice program
  • Clare Anderson, policy fellow for Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago
  • Senator Sara Gelser (D-Ore.)
  • Senator David Wilson (R-Alaska)

COVID-19: Improving Outcomes for Older Youth in Child Welfare

Many older youth in the child welfare system are experiencing disruptions in their lives due to social distancing measures. Older youth and young adults who have recently exited the system are contending with housing and economic instability—some having lost their homes or incomes as a result of college and university closures. This session will examines federal and state efforts to support youth aging out of the child welfare system during the COVID-19 pandemic.




  • Sixto Cancel, founder and chief executive officer of Think of Us
  • Galilea Carrasco, member of Think of Us
  • Amanda Metivier, executive director of Facing Foster Care of Alaska

These meetings were made possible by support from The Annie E. Casey Foundation and Casey Family Programs.

Additional Resources

NCSL Human Services COVID-19 Resources

NCSL COVID-19 Resources

Speaker Resources