For foster and kinship carers

It's important that you stay informed about what's happening with COVID-19. Please visit the Queensland Health website for information on:

  • what is COVID-19 and how it spreads
  • what you should do if you have COVID-19
  • what you should do if you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19
  • when to self-quarantine.

Support

Who can I talk to about COVID-19 and my duty of care to a child or young person?

Please talk to your foster and kinship care agency if you have any questions or concerns about COVID-19 and how it may impact you and the child or young person in your care.

You can also talk to your child safety service centre or call the Foster and Kinship Care Support Line on 1300 729 309.

How do I explain COVID19 to the child or young person in my care?

It's natural for children and young people to be anxious about what they see and hear as the community works together to respond to COVID-19. There is a range of useful links and resources on this page to help you explain what's happening to the child or young person in care.

What support is available if our household is under self-quarantine?

Please call your child safety service and foster and kinship care agency to discuss support needs.

If required, you can also call the Community Recovery Hotline on 1800 173 349. This hotline is to help people who have been advised by a medical professional or Queensland Health to self-quarantine at home and have no other means of support.

Face-to-face contact

What information about COVID-19 do I need to give to Child Safety or my foster and kinship care agency to help inform decisions and planning?

You will need to provide information on whether any member of your household:

  • has returned from overseas recently
  • has cold/flu symptoms
  • is in self-quarantine or home isolation
  • has/have had a COVID-19 diagnosis or has been in close contact with someone who has
  • is immunocompromised or at a higher risk to complications from COVID-19.

Should face-to-face meetings or home visits to carers be limited?

It's important to follow the advice from Queensland Health for you and your family to stay safe.

We may arrange to make contact with you by telephone, Skype or similar. For new contact arrangements, we may ask if you can download a suitable app or can access a device with a suitable app so the child in your care can talk by video call over the internet.

These arrangements will be made for carer assessments, re-assessments and case planning discussions with your child safety officer.

Will COVID-19 responses impact family contact visits?

It is important for children and young people to maintain connections to their parents, siblings and families, particularly in times of uncertainty or stress. 

The health of everyone in your household is important. We'll assess family contact visits on a case by case basis and plan how contact will be made.

Unless there are health concerns for the people involved in facilitating or participating in family contact arrangements, face-to-face family contact will be supported.

Importantly, travel and visits for the purposes of family contact for children and young people in care are allowable exemptions under Queensland Health direction for COVID-19 restrictions.

When face to face contact occurs between children, siblings and parents, this contact should not be limited and can include hugs and kisses as long as hygiene practices have been followed before and after contact. It’s important to remember that restriction on family contact for parents and their children are no different to that expected from other parents with their children in the community. 

Maintaining family contact is also a legal requirement. It's critical to maintain relational permanency for all children and the Child Placement Principle for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people.

How will family contact visits change?

In line with public health directives, family contact will require case-by-case assessment. Assessment will include consideration of any risk factors such as age-related vulnerability, any exposure to COVID-19, or if someone is immune-compromised with underlying health conditions.

Unless there are health concerns for people involved in facilitating or participating in family contact arrangements, face-to-face family contact will be supported.

Carers and parents will be consulted as part of the care team on face-to-face contact arrangements.

We know how worried both parents and carers are at this time, so communication is more important than ever. Your child safety officer will talk to you about the most suitable arrangements for family contact.

Here are some steps we will take to make it safe for face-to-face family contact:

  • Check that people do not have cold/flu symptoms — if anyone involved in the family contact visits displays cold/flu symptoms, please call your child safety officer. This includes carers and your family members, the child's family members and child safety staff.
  • Check if people are immunocompromised or at higher risk of complications from COVID-19 - child safety staff will consider information from carers and parents about their risks to COVID-19. This includes people over 70 years old, over 60 years old with pre-existing conditions, or Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people over 50 years old. If any person involved in the family contact visits has received medical advice to self-isolate, and are actively taking steps to do so, then contact arrangements will be adjusted. Child Safety will make alternative arrangements by telephone, Skype meeting or similar.
  • Consider the location— this will be considered in line with advice from the Australian Government on public gatherings.
  • Maintain good hygiene practice -it is important we all follow the advice fromQueensland Health to help stop the spread of COVID-19:
    • Clean your hands regularly with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rubs.
    • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing.
    • Avoid touching your face, nose and mouth. And avoid shaking hands.
    • Practice social distancing, which includes staying 1.5m away from others as much as you can.

Can I claim reimbursements without visiting the child safety service centre?

Yes, the preferred process for claiming reimbursement of pre-approved expenses is through the Carer Connect app (you can scan and send receipts) or you can post the paperwork to your child safety service centre.

Health concerns

What happens when a child or young person comes into my care and does not display symptoms?

As a carer, you'll receive all information about the child or young person as part of our regional placement processes. This will include any advice on care arrangements or circumstances in which a child or young person may have had contact with someone else who has identified as having COVID-19.

You should also be advised if the child or young person has any medical issues, such as asthma, that may require medical attention if they start displaying COVID-19 symptoms.

You'll need to ensure all required medical aids are available to the child or young person, such as asthma inhalers, Ventolin or any other medication.

If there are any difficulties with obtaining medical aids, please call your foster and kinship care agency or child safety service centre.

The Carer Connect app will help ensure information about a child's needs is shared quickly. We encourage you to download the app, if you have not done so already.

What happens if I or someone in my household displays flu like symptoms?

If anyone in your household displays flu like symptoms of fever, coughing, fatigue, sore throat and shortness of breath, please call a doctor or 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84) immediately.

Once you have received advice from a health professional, please call your child safety service centre and your foster and kinship care agency about the situation.

As a carer, you can consent to COVID-19 testing. Testing for COVID-19 is a diagnostic test and similar to other instances of seeking medical or other health treatment for non-routine, newly presenting conditions. Testing for COVID-19 is a daily care decision that you can consent to.

If a medical practitioner is satisfied that a young person is competent to give consent, then the young person can provide consent.

COVID-19 testing will require a health professional to take a swab from the back of the young person's nose or throat and that swab is tested in a laboratory for the virus.

What happens if I or someone in my household is tested positive for COVID-19?

You must immediately call your child safety service centre and your foster and kinship care agency to discuss your situation and support needs.

You will be supported to care for everyone in your household in line with medical advice you receive, including any hospitalisation or home quarantine measures that are needed. These responses will depend on the severity of symptoms and any underling health conditions of other household members.

If you are temporarily unavailable to continue your caring role, you will receive financial support through the Dual Carer Allowance - Emergent Respite policy, for as long as you need to recover.

Will I be required to download the COVIDSafe app?

The Australian Government has launched COVIDSafe — a contact tracing app to help reduce the spread of coronavirus through early notification of possible exposure.

It uses technology to automate an improve what health officials currently do manually. It will speed up the process of identifying people who have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with coronavirus.

COVIDSafe only keeps contact information for 21 days. This covers the maximum incubation period for the virus and the time it takes for someone to be tested for COVID-19. More information about the app, including details on data privacy is available on the Australian Government's Department of Health website.

The use of the COVIDSafe app is completely voluntary. It's a personal choice and individuals will make their own decision whether to download and use the app.

School and childcare

Can I send my child to school?

It's important that you check the Education Queensland website for the most up-to-date information on what is happening with school changes.

Children who currently receive services from Child Safety or who are in out-of-home care, can attend school, early childhood education and care, and outside school hours care services. Children will be supervised and will participate in the same learning program as children who are learning at home..

Decisions about a child's attendance at school, early childhood education and care, or outside school hours care service need to be made on a case-by-case basis, and in accordance with the child’s case plan.

Please talk to your child safety officer about the options for children in your household. You can also contact your school, early childhood education and care, and outside school hours care service to discuss further.

Independent and Catholic schools are making decisions based on their own situations, so please check with your relevant school for details about attendance requirements.

Can I send my child to childcare at no cost?

Yes, in line with current advice from Queensland health, children can go to childcare.

The Australian Government has announced that from 6 April 2020 to 30 June 2020, childcare services will be free.

Priority will be given to working parents, vulnerable and disadvantaged children, including those in foster or kinship care, who need early childhood education more than ever.

Under the Australian Government's Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package, weekly payments will be made directly to early childhood education and care services in lieu of the Child Care Subsidy and the Additional Child Care Subsidy. Payments will be made until the end of the 2019-20 financial year and families will not be charged fees during this time.

Early childhood education and childcare services do not need to apply for the payments, they will be paid automatically.

The gap fee for parents and carers will also be waived from 23 March 2020.

What should I do if my child's school or childcare closes and I still need to go to work?

In this situation, please call your foster and kinship care agency to arrange support.

Some carers offer respite care. Carers who offer these short breaks will talk to their foster and kinship care agencies about their availability.

We encourage you to think about your own support networks. Should a child or young person require care while you're at work, you can use your support networks for child care and support for up to 48 hours. This may be particularly important for shift workers.

If you have someone in your own support network who can safely meet the child's care needs, you must talk to your child safety officer about this arrangement and provide the person's name, address and phone number. Members of your extended family, or the child's extended family (for example, an aunt or older sibling), can also help under these arrangements. However, you must also consider the information in the question 'What information about COVID-19 do I need to give to Child Safety or my foster and kinship care agency to help inform decisions and planning?' before making this arrangement.

Please talk to your foster and kinship care agency and your child safety service centre before you make these arrangements.

What happens if I'm caring for a young person if they turn 18?

We know how important it is to support a young person’s transition to adulthood. However, many young people may not be ready to live life as independent adults, particularly if they’re still in school.

If you are an approved carer, longā€term guardian or permanent guardian caring for a young person who has turned 18, we will continue to pay the fortnightly caring allowance until the young person turns 19 years old, regardless of their education status.

In response to COVID-19, these payments will be backdated to 29 March to align with Queensland Health directive.

The allowance will stop if the young person no longer lives in your home, or on the young person’s 19th birthday, whichever comes first.

If a young person leaves your household but then returns again to live in your home, you will begin to receive the fortnightly caring allowance to care for the young person up until they reach 19 years of age.

Visit the Queensland Government foster and kinship care web page for more information on changes to carer allowances.

Travel

Should I continue to drive the child or young person in my car?

Yes, you can continue to drive the child or young person in your car to essential appointments in line with travel restrictions that may be in place in your area. For the latest information on travel restrictions, please visit the Queensland Health website.

A child in my care is due to travel overseas shortly. Should the planned overseas travel proceed?

No. You will find that latest advice on the Australian government's Smartraveller website.

Court

Are court matters still proceeding?

The courts are currently open and operating. As the COVID-19 situation evolves, the courts may reduce services for other court matters, however, child protection will remain a priority.

If the situation worsens and there is widespread illness, courts may be closed in affected areas (regional closures). Your child safety officer will inform you of any changes to court dates and court processes.

NDIS

Will NDIS plans continue during COVID-19

Yes. NDIS plans can still be used for children and young people to get support and stay safe.

Some supports may look different or need to change. For example, therapists might use technology to help a child or young person. The NDIS can be asked to use a child's or young person's plan in different ways. For example, if community access has stopped, support can come into the child or young person's home.

You will need to think about what supports are important and what supports might need to change.

The NDIA has special teams of planners who can help. Your child safety officer or guardian will need to contact the Supports Coordinator or NDIS.

For more information, go to the NDIS website.

Can the NDIS help with grocery shopping?

Yes. The NDIS has worked with supermarkets so that families and carers can get help with grocery shopping.

Rather than having to go to the shops, food and other items can be bought online and delivered to your home.

NDIS participants will be provided with a code to shop online at Woolworths, Coles, IGA and Foodworks.

To obtain your code, please talk to your child safety officer.

You'll find more information on the NDIS website and Facebook page.