Ensuring Safety, Health, & Well-Being
Our top priorities are the health and well-being of our entire Amara community: you, your children, our staff, and volunteers. We work with a wide variety of children, youth, adults, and families across Western Washington. It’s our goal to ensure we continue to provide our essential services, in safe, flexible, and creative ways, through this uncertain time.
We will update this webpage with information as our programs and operations shift due to COVID-19. For additional information on:
- Becoming a Foster Parent: Contact Kari Hanson, 206.489.2139
- Becoming a Volunteer: Contact Taylor Trujillo, 206.973.3045
- Making a Donation: Visit our Giving Page or email us
- Media Inquiries: Contact Amie Newman, 206.260.1718
For monthly updates and important announcements, sign up for our e-newsletter at the bottom of our webpage.
Amara Office Operations
Our office locations are open on an as-needed basis only. All Amara staff who are able to work from home are required to do so. The Best for Babies program, a partnership between Amara and Pierce County Juvenile Court, is in need of Amazon gift cards to order supplies that will be directly delivered to our families since we are not currently accepting or distributing donations in person.
All current Childcare Volunteers are temporarily on pause. We are grateful for their patience and understanding as we continue to navigate unknown timelines for resuming volunteer support. At this time, we are not accepting any new volunteer applications for this role.
The Adoption Files Initiative (formerly Project Search & Reunion) volunteers and interns are supporting our Post-Adoption Program by completing adoption file audits. Greeter Volunteers, volunteers who staff our Seattle and Tacoma office front desks, support our Family Visitation program by helping ensure health and safety precautions (such as check-ins and visit room sanitization) are completed by all visitors. All in-person volunteers are expected to strictly follow COVID-19 safety protocol including wearing masks, social distancing, and being vigilant about symptoms and exposure. If you are interested in learning more about how to get started with either of these positions, please contact us at email@example.com.
Out of safety and concern for children, volunteers, and staff, the Emergency Sanctuaries have been closed through 2021. We continue to look at the most impactful ways to utilize the Sanctuaries themselves.
Amara’s Post-Adoption program continues to work with adopted people, adoptive families, and birth families. We are hearing more frequently from birth parents who want to know that their children, in Amara adoptive families, are healthy and safe. We’re supporting adoptive families to share updates and photos of how their children are adapting during COVID-19.
Recognizing the importance of supporting families, particularly during this challenging time, Amara has modified its 7-week, Strong, Tough And Resilient (S.T.A.R.) Adoptive Parent Group to provide a virtual group experience through weekly video/audio recordings and group discussion online. The vision for STAR Adoptive Parent Groups is that participants create lasting community with other adoptive parents and gain tools and resources relating to adoptive parenting. To reduce barriers to participation, there is no cost to join, and any adoptive parent is welcome to participate.
Family Time Visitation
When the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order was put into effect, visits between children in foster care and their families were no longer able to take place in person. Our Family Visitation team quickly changed the program model to virtual visits, working hard to make sure families have the technology they need to participate, and offering up support and ideas for both families and foster families to create an optimal experience for the kids. We continue to provide visits in the safest and most direct form available based on the specific circumstances of each case and will update our policies and procedures with ongoing guidance from DCYF as it is received.
Foster Care Services
Many of our staff are parents facing the same challenges as many parents in our community, including trying to balance their work and their children’s schooling and emotional regulation during this extended uncertain time. We are working to be creative and flexible in how we accomplish our work and as always we are prioritizing our work based first and foremost on the direct impact on children.
Please note: Our phased approach is on pause and all of our work is currently remote. When we are able to return to our phased approach this will be updated. We will provide in-person services on an as-needed and essential basis. We are focused on ensuring that we are keeping health and safety at the center of our work. It is imperative that we see children in person, in their homes, speak with them, and see their home conditions with our own eyes. It is also imperative that we continue to practice physical distancing and limit in-person interactions whenever possible.
For families interested in fostering with Amara, we have moved our informational meetings permanently to virtual and our Family Outreach Coordinator, Kari Hanson, is offering virtual meet-ups called “Coffee with Kari” that all interested families are welcome to attend.
What this approach means for you:
All Amara Foster Families (Prospective & Licensed)
- Our foster care team is continuing to provide support to our families virtually, including performing health and safety visits, license renewals, home inspections, support groups, home study updates, virtual meetings (including FTDMs when they’re happening), and more.
- We are continuously assessing your needs and doing our best to respond to them (e.g. figuring out how to provide support group so that more people can realistically participate, determining how to provide our Partnering for Permanency training, and making sure that we’re sharing resources with you, all while also working to not inundate you).
For guidance on what services may look like in other phases, as well as how to navigate schooling for a child in your care during this time, please see this document.
Safety Precautions utilized at Amara:
Amara follows these safety precautions (unless guidance changes) and asks that all those participating in a visit/interview or who visit our offices do as well to ensure mutual health and safety:
- A screening tool will be used prior to any in-person/in-home visit. This means:
- If anyone in the home responds yes to any of the screening questions (including a pre-existing condition) we will work with you to create a tailored approach to your interview/visit to ensure health and safety.
- If there is an illness within the home, we ask you follow the guidance from the Department of Health.
- Limit in-person contact:
- We will complete the majority of interviews virtually and limit in-person visits to the most vital questions or things that need to be seen in-person. If you’re interested in a pre-visit question form to fill out to make this even shorter, just ask your Foster Care Specialist.
- For discussion portions of meetings with you and with children, we can meet outside in a yard, on a porch, or go for a walk around the block.
- In-person viewing of the child’s room will be kept short. Licensing visits will be kept as short as possible focusing on what needs to be seen and verified in person.
- Wear a mask during in-person interactions
- Avoid physical greetings (e.g. hugs, handshakes, fist bumps, etc.)
- Limit what we all touch
- Your Foster Care Specialist will likely ask you to open doors and other items that we need to see for inspections
- Limit the exchange of paperwork
- Wash hands frequently and utilize cleaning wipes and hand sanitizer as needed
Amara will be making decisions about transitioning back to the offices collaboratively at the leadership level and we recognize that these decisions may look different depending on the program. Our decision making will be informed by local health authorities, the Governor’s office, DCYF, and other partner organizations. We will be thoughtful about our return strategy and intend to incorporate tools and lessons learned during this time into our work in the future. As we establish these decisions, we will share those with our staff, volunteers, partners, and families.