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The information on this page is specific to Permanency Support Program (PSP) service providers.

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Yes, it is important we continue to support children, young people, families and communities in NSW. Many of our clients are already experiencing a range of hardships and it‘s important we maintain a strong level of support. 

We understand you may need to scale down non-essential services so you can continue to deliver essential services. Please inform your DCJ contract manager of any changes to your service delivery.

Read our advice on service delivery impacts.

Learn about what you can do if you’re concerned about keeping services going.

It is important to plan for the continued delivery of services to vulnerable clients. NCOSS have issued a COVID-19 Community Sector Resource to help you plan for service continuity in this challenging time.

We acknowledge that providers may need to take emergency measures in response to a COVID-19 outbreak. DCJ is committed to supporting providers in order to ensure critical services can continue.

DCJ will be establishing a process with contract managers in each District to quickly respond and pre-approve requests to undertake emergency measures that may result in additional extraordinary costs. Please alert your lead DCJ contract manager and, for residential services, the Central Access Unit, as you would in the case of a critical incident.

Yes, it’s important to let everyone know that they can ask you for help if needed.

Please ask your carers and staff check NSW Government advice about how they can protect themselves and their families, including the children in their care.

Practice advice is available to assist practitioners in talking to children and families about COVID-19 to help them make sense of what this means for their daily life, their family and what they should plan for.

Service providers are required to ensure that all OOHC placements are monitored and supported according to individual circumstances. This is to ensure children are safe and well looked after. This includes having regular contact with children and the adults caring for them.

Agencies will need to be creative in reducing face-to-face interactions (‘social distancing’). Agencies will need to use a range of strategies to see, support and connect with children in care, over the coming months.

Determine whether you need to conduct a home visit in person or if a video visit can occur. We ask that when making decisions about visiting children agencies consider factors such as:

  • the child or young person’s wishes, age and health
  • the carer’s concerns and preferences
  • placement stability
  • any risks to the child
  • the health of carers, families and staff
  • technological ability and resources.

Make an assessment of the risks if video visits were to occur to assist in determining whether a face-to-face visit is required. Please be sure to document these decisions.

A tip sheet is now available to support your case managers on home visits during the COVID-19 pandemic. Where face-to-face visits are to occur, good hygiene practices and social distancing is to be incorporated in any planning.

Family time remains important for children and their families and we need to be creative and use a range of strategies to see, support and connect with kids in care. Where appropriate, alternatives to face-to-face contact should be considered to maintain family relationships including through video conferencing, calls, messages and letters.

We ask that agencies consider the following factors when making decisions about family time:

  • the child or young person’s wishes, age and health
  • the parents’, carers’ and loved ones’ concerns and preferences
  • placement stability
  • any risks to the child
  • the health of carers, families and staff
  • supervision requirements and normal frequency of family time
  • restoration requirements
  • access to transport
  • technological ability and resources
  • distance and location.

There may be circumstances where face-to-face contact needs to continue. This includes family time as part of a restoration plan or court order. In this case, you should take reasonable precautions, including social distancing, proper hygiene, and meeting outdoors.

Making decisions about family time during the COVID-19 pandemic is challenging and best done in conversation with others. Talk to staff, children, birth families and carers about the decision to change the way family time is occurring and why. You should also document this on the child’s case file. A tip sheet is now available to support your case managers with family time during the COVID-19 pandemic .

If you are concerned about compliance with court ordered contact arrangements, other administrative directions of the court or you are unsure about what to do about changes to scheduled visits, please speak to your local Child and Family District Unit (CFDU).

What do the new rules about limitations on public gatherings  mean for casework and contact?

New limitations on social gatherings and when people can leave their home do not impact the essential work we do in supporting vulnerable families. The restrictions do not apply

  • for the purposes of work
  • for caring reasons
  • when providing care or assistance to a vulnerable person.

People are also able to leave their home where it is to continue existing arrangements for children to see their parents or siblings.

As outlined below, a number of things need to be taken into consideration when making decisions about face to face home visits and family time during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s important to ensure any changes in the way family time occurs are in line with the child’s court order. You should seek legal advice or advice from your local CFDU if you are unsure.

It is recommended that case managers supervising family time or face to face client contact, carry their employee ID and copies of any court orders/case plans. If desired, case managers may also carry a letter from their manager declaring that they are an essential worker. NGO managers can author letters for staff  (or carers); they do not need to be signed by a DCJ manager.

If approached by a police officer during family time or other face-to-face client contact, case managers should produce their employee ID (and their letter, if they have one) and explain they are undertaking essential support of vulnerable people. If police continue to have concerns case managers should ask that they contact the Police Operations Centre for guidance.

Where a carer is supervising or facilitating family time and a decision is made that it will continue to occur face-to-face (i.e. to support restoration or to fulfil a court order) they should be provided with a letter authorising them to provide an essential service to children by your agency.

Please read, and ask carers to read, the NSW Government advice on self-isolation.

Service providers should take appropriate measures to ensure the health and safety of the young person and others in close proximity. This would extend to applying the principles and procedures outlined in the NSW Joint Protocol.

Ask carers to read and follow NSW Government advice on how they can protect themselves and the children in their care.

There may be cases where a carer cannot continue looking after a child because of COVID-19. In that instance, a person the child knows can be authorised to be a provisional carer. Such a person must be considered capable and suitable.

Check this Children’s Guardian fact sheet for more information.

Remember, it’s important that you are planning for continuing services in an emergency. If a carer is no longer able to care for a child, we ask that you speak to the carer about finding someone else to care for the child temporarily. This may be:

  • another member of the carer’s family
  • someone from your pool of carers
  • someone provided by your local CFDU.

Please contact your local CFDU if you are concerned about not having an available, suitable carer.

People with chronic health conditions may be at a greater risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19. They may need additional support at this time.

If these carers are no longer able to care for a child, you may need to move quickly so that an alternative, authorised person can be found to care for the child.

Remember:

  • Let your local CFDU know of any changes to a child’s care arrangements.
  • Make sure you update any changes in ChildStory.

How can family and friends help a carer provide care for a child?

Where a carer requires practical assistance due to COVID-19, the priority is to put in additional supports to ensure the child can remain with their carer. It’s important during times of stress and anxiety for children to stay connected to the adults in their life. Where this is not possible, there may be other adults in the child’s life who can support the carer such as an existing respite carer, relative or family friend of the carer. Where support from other adults who have pre-existing relationships with the child is not possible then an alternate placement may be required.

  • If a family member or friend are helping on an irregular basis (i.e. just a few of days), they don’t need to be authorised as a carer or require a Working with Children Check (WWCC).
  • If a family member or friend are helping the carer on a regular basis (i.e. 3 times a week for the next few months) they will require a WWCC.
  • If family members or friends want to take on the full-time care of a child in care, and the child already knows them, your agency can conduct an assessment and provisionally authorise that person.
  • If the person will be taking on the carer duties and it’s for more than a very brief period, they would need to be fully authorised.
  • None of the above requirements apply to a child’s parents, however placement of a child with their parents requires DCJ approval in accordance with a court approved restoration plan.

Will the Department provide extra financial assistance for carers?

The Australian Governmentis providing additional financial support to those impacted financially by COVID-19. Carers should check with Centrelink to determine eligibility for new COVID-19 allowances.

Agencies should treat carer requests for additional financial assistance on a case-by-case basis, as they usually would, with particular consideration of the immediate needs of the family (e.g. emergency funds to buy medicine or food).

It is vitally important that families continue to be supported, and critical services continue to be delivered during this time. Many of our clients are already experiencing a range of hardships and vulnerabilities and it is important that we maintain a strong level of support.

For the delivery of frontline services that involve face-to-face contact, get in touch with clients ahead of time, where possible, and ask them:

  • Have you or anyone in your household returned from overseas within the last 14 days?
  • Are you or anyone in your household exhibiting flu-like symptoms or any of the symptoms associated with coronavirus?
  • Are you or anyone in your household required to self-isolate?

If clients cannot be contacted, staff should ask the same questions shortly after arriving or receiving clients face-to-face.

If the answer is yes, assess whether the visit can be delayed or if you can support clients over the phone or via video software.

See our advice on restoration assessment and planning during COVID-19 . This factsheet includes information about what you need to consider when making decisions about restoring a child during the pandemic.

You must seek approval from DCJ (through your local CFDU) if you are:

  • changing the way court order family time occurs
  • restoring a child or young person home (in accordance with a court approved restoration plan)
  • delaying the start of a transition plan to restore a child.

Guidance about domestic violence, problematic use of alcohol or other substances, neglect and culturally safe practices for Aboriginal communities is available in the restoration practice tip sheet .

How do you do good leaving care planning during COVID-19?

Now, more than ever, young people who are leaving, or have recently left care, really need our support. We must help young people through the leaving care planning process in any way we can and provide high quality aftercare support.

Read the supporting care leavers during COVID-19 fact sheet for more information.

This application form and support checklist will also help if you need to make changes to a young person’s leaving care plan.

To ensure the safety of everyone involved, you should avoid face-to-face case plan meetings. Virtual meetings can take place using a range of platforms. A tip sheet is available to support your case managers in case planning during COVID-19 .

The department is not approving any overseas travel for children and young people in care.

This is designed to protect everyone’s health and safety. These restrictions are for a limited time. We will advise you when overseas travel is being approved again.

Ethnolink Language Services has links to information from State and Australian Government websites for people from non-English speaking backgrounds.

Please note that our advice may change as the situation with COVID-19 progresses.

Visit our carers Frequently Asked Questions page for the latest information for carers.

Family time during the COVID-19 pandemic

Case planning during the COVID-19 pandemic

Home visits during the COVID-19 pandemic

Talking to children and families about COVID-19

Restoration planning and assessment during the COVID-19 pandemic

Supporting children and families through the restoration process

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Last updated: 29 Apr 2020