First and foremost, we encourage our partners to make operational decisions based on the health, safety, and best interests of all Ohioans and particularly the families and children we serve through our programs. To address some of the questions we’ve heard from our regional partners, we want to share the following two pieces of guidance.
Question #1: Is it permissible for services paid for by OCTF dollars that are typically provided in the home or in a group setting (i.e. parent education, training, peer support, etc.) to be moved to a virtual format and still be reimbursed by OCTF for services rendered?
Answer: All regional coordinating entities are encouraged to review their contracts with service providers and if the coordinating entity deems the service permissible for reimbursement when rendered in a virtual manner, then OCTF will reimburse for that service upon receipt of agreed upon documentation. This would be inclusive of time and materials as well as ‘unit of service’ deliverables when that deliverable is met in a virtual format, if applicable to your region. Coordinators with any additional or more specific questions should reach out to their assigned Program Manager. This is effective until further notice.
Note: Attached you will also find the HV Guidance that was issued by ODH for their home visiting partners, if you find this information helpful.
Question #2: In light of the Order issued by the by the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) on March 12, 2020 regarding the prohibition of “mass gatherings” in addition to the recommendations regarding social distancing; will there be any changes to the Sunshine Laws addressing Ohio’s Open Meeting Act (OMA), which requires votes for boards, commissions, and other public bodies to be held in person?
Answer: The Ohio Attorney General’s Office has received numerous questions regarding the applicability of Ohio’s Open Meetings Act (OMA) during this time of a covid-19 declared emergency. Please see the Open Meetings Act letter from Ohio Attorney General, Dave Yost, addressing this matter as it applies to state boards, commissions, and agencies. As per the interpretation of this letter by ODJFS, OCTF interprets this guidance to allow for a member of a public body to appear at a public meeting via teleconference or other virtual means, during this time of emergency. A quorum must still be present wither in person, over the phone, or in some combination thereof. However, each coordinating entity is ultimately responsible for ensuring council meetings are held in accordance with Ohio law. Therefore, please defer to your agency’s legal council on this matter and any other matter per pertaining to legal guidance during this time of a covid-19 emergency as the OCTF is not able to provide legal guidance to coordinating entities or vendors.
We also want to take a moment to recommend that each coordinating entity reach out to all current vendors to identify how each vendor is responding to this situation. As this information becomes available please share these plans with your assigned Program Manager as we will be compiling a master list outlining the continuity of service for each vendor. Your Program Manager is available if you have any questions regarding the type of information that might be helpful to gather in order for your regions to make decisions regarding how best to respond.
If you have any additional questions regarding this guidance or your organization’s specific concerns, please feel free to reach out to me directly and/or to your assigned Program Manager.
Thank you all for your continued service to Ohio’s children and families.
Wishing you safety and health
Lindsay & the OCTF Staff