WINNIPEG -- Child and Family Services (CFS) will continue safety and family visits during the COVID-19 pandemic, but some changes might be made.

According to a spokesperson from Manitoba Families these visits are considered essential, and will be offered within the guidelines of public health advice.

The province noted CFS workers will weigh assessments and visits against any possible health risks, and if necessary practice changes may occur.

“For example, the ability to travel to a community or to other provinces can affect family visits,” the statement from the spokesperson said.

“Family contact remains essential, so in those cases, workers might be able to use other tools to support a family, such as Skype or phone calls.”

As a response to COVID-19, the province gave guidelines to all CFS authorities, which include:

  • Before going into a home, the worker should ask screening questions, based on the ones used at healthcare centres;
  • Workers should document confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19;
  • CFS agencies should consider business continuity plans;
  • Workers should consider alternate methods of communication in order to maintain contact;
  • Foster parents and kids in care should practice physical distancing;
  • If family visits are scheduled for children in foster care, the guardian agency has to give direction on if protective measures should be taken or if the visit is happening at all;
  • Children in care who will be staying at home due to the suspension of schools and childcare centres will need continuous care;
  • If a child in care or a foster-care provider or a group-care staff member shows COVID-19 symptoms, Health Links or a health-care provider should be contacted;
  • If a child in care is self-isolating, workers should follow the advice of public health officials;
  • Children and youth should be reassured, listened to and should maintain regular activities and routines; and
  • Children’s exposure to media should be limited, and a ‘no sharing’ policy should be reinforced in group care settings.

 The province urges care providers to continue to interact with children, but should follow public health advice.