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 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?

With the easing of restrictions announced by the Queensland Government for travel and community interactions from 1 June 2020, contact arrangements are no longer any different to other activities in the community.

For face-to-face meetings and home visits, it's important to continue to follow the advice from Queensland Health for everyone to stay safe, including:

  • staying home if you're sick. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, get tested.
  • cleaning your hands regularly with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rubs.
  • covering your nose and mouth with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing.
  • avoiding touching your face, nose and mouth. And avoid shaking hands.
  • keeping 1.5 metres away from others as much as you can - think two big steps (with the exception of normal parent/child interactions).

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

Depending on the COVID-safe plans with your child safety service centre, we may still  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.

Should face-to-face family contact be limited?

With the easing of restrictions announced by the Queensland Government for travel and community interactions from 1 June 2020, contact arrangements are no longer any different to other activities in the community.

For face-to-face family contact, it’s important to continue to follow the advice from Queensland Health for everyone to stay safe, including:

  • staying home if you’re sick. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, get tested.
  • Cleaning your hands regularly with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rubs.
  • Covering your nose and mouth with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing.
  • avoiding touching your face, nose and mouth. And avoid shaking hands.
  • keeping 1.5 metres away from others as much as you can - think two big steps (with the exception of normal parent/child interactions).

It's important to remember that restrictions on family contact for parents and their children is no different to that expected from other parents with their children in the community. 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.

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.

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

What happens when the free childcare package finishes?

The Australian Government has announced an end to the temporary Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package, which provided carers with free childcare during the COVID-19 pandemic. The end of the relief package comes following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions and an increase in demand for childcare.

From 13 July 2020, the Child Care Subsidy will return, with some new transition measures to support the child care sector, parents and carers as they move back to the subsidy.

It is important to make a claim for, and be eligible for the Child Care Subsidy (even if your entitlement amount is zero), to minimise or avoid any out of pocket expenses.

You may also be eligible for the Additional Child Care Subsidy (Child Wellbeing). The Additional Child Care Subsidy (Child Wellbeing) provides a higher rate of assistance with the cost of child care. Your child care provider will need to submit this claim on your behalf.

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.