Residential Practice in COVID

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Caring For Well Children

Putting protocols in place to encourage social distancing, limit traffic in and out of cottages/units, and ensure the appropriate use of PPE are all necessary to protect well children from infection. Protocols to regularly screen well children and to assess children returning to the facility from the community are all imperative to contain illness and manage a safe environment. Additionally, adapted protocols for new admissions are also recommended.

Protocol guidelines will vary depending upon the accessibility of rapid testing (see Testing section for more information) and should include the following:

  • AWOL/AWOC returns
  • Family visit returns
  • Period of detention/incarceration returns
  • Return from hospitalization
  • New admissions
  • Regular screenings of well children
  • Shelter-in-place and PPE protocols for well children


Residents returning to the program from the community:

Specific guidelines, forms, and easy-to-read printables should be developed to provide staff with guidance regarding any youth who returns to the residential environment from the community. JCCA’s Off-Campus Return Evaluation was created to help staff screen young people for any symptoms or possible exposure, and to clearly direct staff to escort youth to the program’s health center should they report such. Community-based residential programs can also use screening tools to help staff make decisions regarding escorting young people to appropriate health care facilities as needed. Printables placed in cottages/units can help to remind staff to conduct such screenings.

At times, staff will be required to pick youth up from community locations as a result of AWOC, hospitalization, doctor’s visit, or other off-site appointments. Written guidelines should be developed for staff who are providing such transportation and should include information related to the use of agency vehicles, managing social distancing in agency vehicles, use of PPE’s, and anything else that leadership and medical staff feel are pertinent to ensure the safety of all. Additionally, any young person returning from a hospital setting should be screened for symptoms prior to their discharge and return to campus. Residential programs can provide a form letter such as JCCA’s Hospital Return Form to ensure that hospital staff are attentive to this requirement.



Educating young people about the virus is also essential to caring for well children in a residential setting. In the spirit of positive youth development, it is important to partner with young people to fight the spread of any contagious virus or disease. Young people should be provided with information regarding how such illnesses can spread and what they can do to protect themselves, their families, and one another. Conducting question and answer sessions with medical personnel, viewing videos explaining how the disease is spread, training staff on having continuous, open dialogue with young people, and providing printables and constant visual reminders of universal precautions and social distancing protocols can go a long way toward containment.



New Admission and Return to Campus Policy and Procedures (dated: 5-8-20)
Protocol Workflow for Children returning to Campus from AWOL/AWOC, Family Visits, Detention/Incarceration, Hospitalization.
Off-Campus Return Evaluation Form (JCCA)
Printable: Health Reminder for Universal Precautions and Off-campus Visits (JCCA)
Transportation Recommendations for Staff Picking Up Children from Community Locations
Hospital Discharge Letter  (JCCA)
Regular Screening Protocols for Well Children
Printable: Talking to Kids about Coronavirus