Making Family Reunification Possible in the Midst of COVID-19: Utilizing Remote Assessments to Bring a Granddaughter Home
With Covid-19 on the rise, navigating the world virtually is becoming the norm. Don, a grandfather living in the United States is determined to obtain custody of his granddaughter in Australia, after her mother has been unable to care for her. Don’s daughter has severe mental health issues which resulted in Ella, her daughter, being under the care of the child welfare authority in Australia. Don has been working with an attorney for over a year in hopes that he would be rewarded custody of his granddaughter
ISS-Australia referred the home study/kinship placement to ISS-USA. Then the pandemic started, and the state where Don was living went into lockdown, and everyone was encouraged to stay home. Don was deeply distressed to think that his granddaughter could be living in foster care with strangers for an even longer period of time. However, ISS-USA quickly pivoted to using remote assessments, and developed guidelines for doing this work. “We didn’t want to see family separation prolonged even more, due to covid closures” said Elaine Weisman, Training and Program Manager at ISS, co-developer of the ISS-USA guidelines. The home study took place virtually, using the newly developed guidelines. Although virtual, it was able to capture much of the same information that would have been captured with an in-person visit, and showed a grandfather willing and able to provide a safe and loving home for his granddaughter. ISS-USA transferred the reports to ISS Australia, and the case was recently heard in court. The judge granted custody of Ella to Don. Don and Ella now reside together at last in the U.S.
ISS-USA is continuing to enhance our remote assessment procedures so we can share them nationally. Would you help us? Please take a few minutes to complete this brief survey about remote assessments if you have had experience using them: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/remote_assess