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Carers and children who feel unwell or are in high risk groups
Family time, home visits, case planning and specialist visits
Schooling, child care and learning
Talking to children about Coronavirus and reducing risk

The information on this page relates specifically to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and carers. This includes:

  • foster carers
  • relative/kin carers
  • short term carers
  • emergency carers
  • respite carers

Where do I go for the latest information?

The best source of information is the NSW Health website

They have information about:

  • what the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is
  • what symptoms to look out for
  • what to do if you feel unwell

Contact the National Coronavirus Health Information line 1800 020 080.

What are my responsibilities when the child in my care is unwell?

  • As a carer, you’re one of the most important people in your child’s life.
  • Continue to provide a safe and caring environment for the child if they are unwell.
  • Follow the advice of your medical professional about self-isolation, and the process to be followed in informing people who may have been in close contact.

More information about self-isolation and what to do if you are unwell visit the NSW Health website

What do I do as a carer if I feel unwell?

  • If you feel unwell, check whether:
    • ­ your symptoms match those identified by NSW Health for Coronavirus
    • ­ you meet the criteria for self-isolation identified by NSW Health.

You can find the latest information at www.health.nsw.gov.au.

  • Contact the National Coronavirus Health Information line 1800 020 080 or follow the advice of your medical professional. If you don’t have identified symptoms or need to self-isolate, continue caring for your child if you’re well enough to do so and the child will be safe.
  • Talk to your caseworker or agency if you need significant assistance with caring because you are unwell. Carers should tell their caseworker about anyone who has regular contact with the child and may be able to assist with providing care.
    • The person may need a Working With Children Check (WWCC), even if they are a partner or family member.
  • If you don’t have a trusted family member, friend or other person to care for the child while you can’t, your agency will need to organise someone to look after them.

What if I have Coronavirus symptoms, need to self-isolate, or feel too sick to care for the child in my care?

  • Call 000 immediately if you are seriously unwell; otherwise consult with a medical practitioner and/or contact the National Coronavirus Health Information line 1800 020 080.
  • Contact your caseworker or agency if you need to self-isolate.
  • Follow the home isolation guidance provided by NSW Health.
  • Talk to your caseworker or agency if you need significant child care because you are unwell (e.g. if you need to go to hospital). Carers should tell their caseworker about anyone who has regular contact with the child in their care.

How do I reduce the risk of contracting or spreading Coronavirus?

There are some simple steps you and the child in your care can take to protect yourself: Encourage them to:

  • regularly clean their hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol.
  • cough or sneeze into their elbow, or cover with a tissue
  • avoid close contact with people who are ill
  • avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth
  • stay home if they are sick.

What do I do about family time (contact)?

Family time remains important for children and their families.

However, in many cases, alternatives to face-to-face contact should be considered, such as FaceTime, other video calls, text messages, telephone calls, letters and sending photos and other mementos.

There may be some cases where face-to-face contact should still proceed, for example to support restoration or where court ordered.

We encourage you to talk with your caseworker about options for family time and to discuss any worries you may have including any strategies or solutions to support everyone during this time.

What about home visit from my caseworker or case manager?

Visits should continue but are much more likely to be via Skype, FaceTime or on another video platform.

In some circumstances, your caseworker might need to see you and child in person. For example if your caseworker is worried about the stability of the placement or particular risks with the child.

If they need to visit you in person, you should expect them to:

  • call beforehand to check if anyone in your house is unwell
  • keep their distance
  • try to make the visit outside if possible
  • wash their hands thoroughly before and after visiting you
  • not to come if they are unwell or have been in contact with someone with Coronavirus.

If the visits are made via video-call your caseworker should:

  • make sure you have some sort of technology that will allow you to do this
  • help you with how this technology works including having a practice if needed
  • both of you and the caseworker should be on video
  • talk to you separately
  • talk to the child or young person separately.

What about case planning?

Case planning is important and should continue. However, case planning should not be happening face-to-face. These meetings can be done through individual telephone calls, FaceTime/Skype or other video call. As with usual case planning, all the important people in a child’s life should have the chance to express their views.

What about specialist appointments?

Talk to your medical professional about whether your appointment is essential and how it can be best take place.

Should I talk to the child in my care about Coronavirus?

Yes.

It is perfectly normal for children to have questions about the Coronavirus. Children will look to you and other adults on how to manage their reactions.

It’s ok to talk to them about Coronavirus. A calm, reassuring conversation will actually help. Speak in words they understand. Listen and answer their questions as honestly as possible and correct any misunderstandings. This will help them feel informed and understand what is happening. Keep up to date with the facts from reliable sources such as the NSW Health website.

How can I help children to feel calm?

Children are likely to have questions about their birth family and why, in some situations, they can’t see them face-to-face because of the Coronavirus. Help them understand that it is just a precaution to help stop the risk of the Coronavirus spreading. It’s not because they or their family are sick or have done anything wrong. Help them connect in other ways. Let them know it won’t be forever. When things calm down and the risk is over they will be able to see family members face-to-face again.

Children can be distressed by hearing repeated stories so monitor how much children are being exposed to television and social media and encourage them to talk to you about what they are seeing and hearing.

Should I be sending children in my care to school?

Learning is especially important for children and young people in care.

Whatever you decide for the children in your care, encourage them to learn. You can do this in different ways – from reading, to home projects, to online learning sites (see below). Ideally, talk with your caseworker to make a decision together. If this isn’t practical inform your caseworker about what you have done.

Read the latest advice from the NSW Department of Education website about whether you should send your children to school.

Children with colds, flus or any other illness should be kept at home. Children who have travelled overseas in the last 14 days should be kept at home.

How can I help my kids learn if they aren’t at school?

The NSW Department of Education has a site for helping children learn when they are at home.

What about child care for younger children?

The NSW Department of Education has specific advice about child care and early education.

Children with colds, flus or any other illness should be kept at home. Children who have travelled overseas in the last 14 days should be kept at home.

What about interstate travel?

We are highly unlikely to approve interstate travel.

Unless it is absolutely necessary, carers, children in their care and their families should not be travelling. Please stay up to date with travel advice and check regularly for changes.

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Last updated: 06 Apr 2020
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