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

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Should children in out-of-home care attend a school or holiday camp?

In planning for children in out-of-home care (OOHC) to attend holiday camps, liaise with your local DCJ Child and Family District Unit (CFDU) as required.

Consider the latest advice from NSW Health and NSW Department of Education, relevant public health orders and whether or not the business providing facilities for camps are COVID-19 safe. Further advice is provided below

NSW Department of Education advice

For children that attend a government school, consider the latest NSW Department of Education advice. The latest advice outlines overnight activities can occur from Term 4 in accordance with strict COVID-19 safe requirements.

NSW Health advice

Consider the latest NSW Health advice about overnight accommodation settings including school camps.

Overnight accommodation settings where facilities are shared by people from different households and children require additional adult supervision and interaction, such as camps, may have an increased risk of COVID-19 transmission should someone attending be infected.

As the COVID-19 situation can change quickly, schools, facilities and overnight event organisers should:

  • consider the level of community transmission in the local community just before the overnight event is to be held, along with the other risks associated with the event as part of a risk assessment process
  • pay particular attention to excluding anyone with symptoms before the event, and
  • consider arrangements for isolating and testing anyone who develops symptoms during the event.

Overnight activities may take place so long as accommodation facilities and overnight event organisers develop and implement a COVID-19 Safety Plan. COVID-19 Safety Plan guidance is available from the NSW Government website for caravan parks and camping grounds and accommodation.

Compliance with public health orders

Consider if it is likely that children attending a camp will be able to maintain ‘4 metres square of space for each person’ required under the current Public Health Order relating to restrictions on gathering and movement?

  • If the answer is ‘no’, then the child should not attend the camp.

COVID-19 safety plan

Consider whether the business providing facilities for the camp has a COVID-19 safety plan to maintain a safe environment for workers and customers. A valid safety plan must include measures for physical distancing, hygiene practices, signage and record keeping of those in attendance (for a minimum period of 28 days) to support contact tracing.

  • If the answer is ‘no’, then the child should not attend the camp.

Additional considerations

Consider whether the business providing facilities for the camp have additional plans in place for:

  • the potential for COVID-19 infection when children or young people are brought together from multiple communities
  • the availability of facilities for testing and care that are local and/or accessible to the camp
  • if a child in camp acquires a COVID-19 infection, how children will self-isolate for 14 days (or longer)
  • how children will return to their family safely if they were close contacts of a child in camp that acquired a COVID-19 infection or if they have acquired a COVID-19 infection themselves.
    • If the answer is ‘no’, then the child should not attend the camp.

Note: This advice only applies to organised activities arranged by a school, religious institution or other recreation program involving children. It does not apply to private holiday activities arranged by a child’s carer and involving members of the child and carer’s immediate household.

For further information, refer to:

Should face masks be worn when travelling in a car with others?

As you cannot physically distance when travelling in a car with a colleague, child, young person or family member, it is recommended you wear a mask and have spares on hand for passengers over 12 years who you need to transport. Change your mask every 1-2 hours, or if touched, and use hand sanitiser before and after putting it on.

What is the latest border information and requirements for travelling with children in care?

Current NSW border information is available on NSW Health website

Queensland

Queensland have closed their borders to NSW residents.

The only exception is for people performing essential activities as listed in the Border restrictions Direction (No. 10). This includes only people performing national and state security, police, health or emergency services who enter Queensland to respond to an emergency.

Read more about the restrictions available on the Queensland Government website.

Victoria

Restrictions have eased for the NSW Victoria border.

If you are a worker who performs essential services, you can now apply for a border region permit. You must:

  • live within the border region
  • need to cross the border for work.

New border zone

Addresses within the border region can be searched on the border address checker.

New border zone resident permit

The new permit allows a border region resident to enter NSW to:

  • attend work or education
  • obtain necessary goods or services
  • provide care or on other compassionate reasons.

If you are a border region resident from NSW, you:

  • are authorised to enter Victoria only for the reason allowed in the permit
  • must not travel to any part of Victoria that is outside of the border region or is a COVID-19 area of concern.

If you are a border region resident from Victoria, you:

  • are authorised to enter and remain in NSW only for the reason allowed in the permit
  • must not travel to any part of NSW that is outside of the border region
  • must not enter NSW if you have travelled in a COVID-19 area or concern or restricted area within the previous 14 days.

Applying for a border entry permit

If you are an essential service worker who needs a border entry permit, please apply via the Service NSW website.

If you have issues obtaining a permit

if you work for a non-government organisation or service provider and

  • cannot secure a permit
  • need to change your permit conditions.

You will need to complete the exemption request form and return it to DCJ-SEOCLO@justice.nsw.gov.au.

We will then liaise with NSW Health Exemptions Team on behalf of DCJ to have the situation reviewed. Please note: This does not guarantee that the permit will be granted.

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.

Face-to-face visits should be occurring again for most children whether they are in the care of their parents, or are in out-of-home care ― if it is safe for all involved.

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.

Before a face-to-face visit, contact the family and ask who will be in the home when you visit and if anyone is unwell or ordered to self-isolate. If the answer is yes, assess whether the visit can be delayed or if you can support clients over the phone or via video calls.

If the visit cannot be delayed, carry a mask for any person unwell with COVID-19 symptoms (e.g. fever, cough, breathing difficulties) or self-isolating to wear if they don’t have one.

Staff should carry personal protective equipment, including a mask, for all face-to face-visits. Where physical distancing is not possible, staff should wear a mask. It’s important to wear your mask correctly.

You will need to continue to make decisions on a case-by-case basis. 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
  • the safety and best interests of children
  • the health of carers, families and staff
  • technological ability and resources.

Where there are concerns about face-to-face visits, make an assessment of the risks if video visits were to occur. Please be sure to document these decisions.

If the decision is made not to visit face-to-face, record a clear rationale for this decision in a case note. Describe in the record that government restrictions were considered in making this decision.

There is lots of helpful advice about how to stay safe on home visits, or when this is not possible, to use technology creatively to connect and keep communication meaningful online in the home visits during the COVID-19 pandemicotip sheet.

When face-to-face visits occur, good hygiene practices and social distancing must be incorporated in any planning.

Family time remains important for children and their families. Face-to-face visits should be occurring again for most children whether they are in the care of their parents, or are in OOHC ― if it is safe for all involved.

There will be circumstances where face-to-face contact needs to continue. This includes family time as part of a restoration plan or court order.

Where there are health concerns then consider alternative methods of contact including video conferencing, calls, messages and letters.

It is important that any decision about family time is focussed on the best interests and needs of the child.

You will need to continue to make decisions on a case-by-case basis. 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.

Before a face-to-face visit, contact the family and carer and ask if anyone who planned to attend the family time visit is unwell or ordered to self-isolate. If the answer is yes, assess whether the visit can be delayed or if you can support clients over the phone or via video calls.

If the family time visit cannot be delayed, carry a mask for any person unwell with COVID-19 symptoms (e.g. fever, cough, breathing difficulties) or self-isolating to wear if they don’t have one.

Staff should carry personal protective equipment, including a mask, for all face-to-face visits. Where physical distancing is not possible, staff should wear a mask. It’s important to wear your mask correctly.

Where family time occurs face-to-face you should take reasonable precautions, including physical 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 case managers with family time during the COVID-19 pandemic 

If the decision is made not to visit face-to-face, record a clear rationale for this decision in a case note. Describe in the record that government restrictions were considered in making this decision.

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).

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).

Face-to-face visits should be occurring again for most children whether they are in the care of their parents, or are in out-of-home care ― if it is safe for all involved.

Before a face-to-face visit, contact the family and ask who will be in the home when you visit and if anyone is unwell or ordered to self-isolate, also ask:

  • 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 the answer is yes, assess whether the visit can be delayed or if you can support clients over the phone or via video software. If the visit cannot be delayed, carry a mask for any person unwell with COVID-19 symptoms (e.g. fever, cough, breathing difficulties) or self-isolating to wear if they don’t have one.

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 ordered 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.

Tip sheets are available that include guidance about domestic violence, problematic use of alcohol or other substances and neglect when working with families during the pandemic. The restoration practice tip sheet includes information on culturally safe practices for Aboriginal communities.

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.

Case plan meetings during COVID-19 may occur virtually, where this is best for the child, family, carer and staff. Virtual meetings can take place using a range of platforms.

Where it is safe to host case plan meetings face-to-face, you must take reasonable precautions, including physical distancing and proper hygiene. Where physical distancing is not possible staff should wear a mask. It’s important to wear your mask correctly.

Before a face-to-face meeting, staff should contact the family and carer and anyone else planned to attend. Ask if anyone planned to attend is unwell or ordered to self-isolate. If the answer is yes, conduct the case planning meeting via phone or video calls

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.

Who to contact if you have further questions

If you have any immediate questions regarding border closures or another COVID-19 related matter, please email the COVID-19 Support Team at COVID19.Support@facs.nsw.gov.au.

Children may be able to travel in and out of NSW domestically under some circumstances. Each state and territory has different rules to follow. You can find these rules on the Healthdirect website. Ensure up-to-date border restrictions are reviewed prior to any travel.

Currently an overseas travel ban for Australian citizens and permanent residents is in place. Check the Australian Department of Home Affairs website for the most up to date information.

During COVID-19 additional approvals are required. This includes:

  • You will need approval from the Deputy Secretary of DCJ for a child or young person in OOHC to move or travel to another state or territory in Australia.
  • You will need approval from the Secretary of DCJ for a child or young person in OOHC to move or travel to New Zealand even if you have received an exemption from the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs.

To obtain the relevant Secretary or Deputy Secretary approvals, you will need to prepare a submission, approved by your agency’s Principal Officer and submit to the COVID-19 Support Team by email: COVID19.Support@facs.nsw.gov.au and cc your local DCJ Child Family District Unit (CFDU).

In some cases, you will need permission to enter other states and territories in Australia. Some states and territories will require that you have a Border Pass and to seek special exemptions for children and carers.

DCJ have a dedicated COVID-19 team that liaise with the required departments to determine the requirements to travel across borders during the COVID -19 pandemic. You can contact the DCJ COVID-19 team by email: COVID19.Support@facs.nsw.gov.au.

If you have received an exemption to travel overseas from the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs, the Interstate Liaison team will help you to coordinate the child’s movement to another state or territory. The team can also help you organise interstate child protection services to ensure the child is supported during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Interstate Liaison works with child protection practitioners in the other Australian state and territory child protection departments and New Zealand. The team is closely communicating with other jurisdictions regarding interstate child protection impacts of COVID-19.

You can contact the Interstate Liaison team by:

Use the COVID -19 checklist for children in OOHC to move or travel interstate or to New Zealand.

Currently, anyone returning from Victoria will be required to self-isolate for 14 days. For information on self-isolation, visit the NSW Health website.

The Australian Government Department of Home Affairs, each state and territory in Australia and countries overseas have different regulations for entering their jurisdiction. These regulations can change at short notice. It is important to review the rules each time you support a child or young person travelling interstate and overseas.

If a carer needs to isolate or quarantine with a child or young person, they will need to be authorised. DCJ will consider covering carer and/or agency costs for the quarantine period. Prior approval before you travel would be required for any costs to be considered. NGO’s would be responsible for any travel costs, unless extraordinary costs are approved via a complex needs application. Quarantine accommodation in a designated government facility costs are covered.

Caseworkers are able to travel to another state or territory in Australia with a child or young person. Caseworkers will also need to follow the current quarantine regulations of the state or territory they are travelling to.

The NSW Government website contains up-to-date travel and transport advice. Each state and territory in Australia, and New Zealand, has its own entry requirements and these are changing frequently. You must comply with the relevant border regulations for the state or territory you are entering or leaving.

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 Sep 2020