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The outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a stressful time for all families. You may
feel worried that you or a child in your care will get sick. You may also have other
worries for you and your family.

You are not alone. NSW Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) and your
agency are still open to support our carers.

Here is a range of practical tips and helpful links.

Get support fast

If you are worried that you, a child in your care or anyone in your family has
coronavirus, phone your GP or healthdirect on 1800 022 222. Call 000 if it is an
emergency.

If you are a carer who already gets support from DCJ, or another family service, contact
them to develop a plan to help you through this time. With the extra stress of
coronavirus and being away from your usual supports, you may need extra help to
plan for the coming weeks.

If you are finding it hard to cope with caring for a child or young person you can also
contact:

Get support with schooling

Most schools remain open. Carers are able to decide if they want children to stay in
school or not. Talk to your school and your caseworker if you are unsure.

If you are home schooling a child, the child’s school will give you information about
what to do. If you are worried that you will not be able to teach the child or look after
them safely, talk to the school about the child staying in school.

Try and have a daily routine for the family. Break down the day into small parts for
example :

  • school subjects
  • stretching
  • morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea
  • time for play/free time.

If the child has a disability or needs extra help, talk to their teacher/s about how to best
support their learning.

NSW Department of Education website has helpful advice to support children to learn
at home.

Look after yourself

It is normal to feel worried. It is important to look after yourself. This is not selfish. When
you are calm it helps you to be there for the children.

Pay attention to your emotions

Take a moment to pause and notice your feelings. If feeling stressed or anxious, that
is okay. Take some slow, deep breaths.

If you feel worried and need support you could talk to:

Be realistic

Be realistic about what you can and cannot do. Contact other people for help if you are
worried about some of the things you cannot do that are important for the children.

Connect with family and friends

Try to keep in touch with friends and family every day. You need support and
connection now more than ever. This can be as simple as phone calls and text
messages or you can set up video chats or group chats.

Ask what sort of help they can give you and your family. They might be able to give
love and support over the phone or drop off groceries. People who care about you are
likely to want to help if you, reach out and ask.

Stay active

Exercise is good for your body and your mind, even for just 30 minutes a day. You can
do this alone or as a family activity. If you can, try to get outdoors into your backyard,
or go for a walk where it is not busy. Always remember to stay more than 1.5 metres
away from others you may meet while out
If you have to stay indoors try some of the great free videos and apps online, or put
some music on and dance.

Other support services

Almost all support services are still open, even if that means that their service is given
to you differently. Here are some more helpful links to services:

Talking to children about coronavirus

Children and young people may worry if they don’t know what’s happening. It is
important to explain to them what coronavirus is, how to look after each other and what
changes will happen. You can talk to a child as young as a toddler about these
changes. Zero to three website has some helpful ways to reply to toddlers questions.

Things that may help:

  • let them know that it is okay to feel worried
  • focus on how you can stay healthy and happy as a family
  • reassure them you are there for them
  • let them ask questions and be honest in your response
  • ask if they have questions or if they feel worried about anything.

Other helpful tips about talking to children and young people.

If a child or young person is not going to see people important to them, like family,
friends or Elders, explain why but try and set up ways they can stay in contact.

Limit how much media they watch about coronavirus. Too much information about big
events can overwhelm children.

Supporting the wellbeing of the children you care for

Helping children deal with change

Keep children in the loop about changes, even those who are very young. Let them
ask questions. Wherever possible, let them have a say in some of the changes, for
example, how would they like to stay connected to family or friends in their lives?

When children’s routines change they may be confused or upset. Some children will
not be able to tell you with words what is upsetting them. They may share their feelings
through their behaviour like acting out, want a lot of your attention, be hard to settle or
withdraw.

It can be easy to feel frustrated when this happened. If the behaviour of the child you
are caring for changes, think:

  • ‘What are they trying to tell me?’
  • ‘How can I respond to them in a way that will meet that need?’

Creative ways children can stay connected to friends and other important people in their life

Ideas include:

  • video services apps and sites, including group video hangouts
  • phone calls or phone messages
  • photo sharing apps
  • family music playlists to share songs with each other
  • gaming apps that could support siblings to play computer games together
  • letter-writing: build this into the child’s routine and send letters and craft in the post.

Develop a consistent routine

Having a routine will help children adapt to change and feel more in control in these
uncertain times. Try to go to bed and wake up at around the same time. Share meals
together as a family.

Keep them connected to nature

Unless you are self-isolating or your doctor tells you not to, you can still go outdoors to
your backyard, for walks and other types of exercise that just involve the members of
your house.

It is important that children go outside each day if possible. There are fun activities you
can do as a family such as ‘nature scavenger hunts’ (search on the web for activity
sheets).

Keep their bodies and minds active

Helping a child stay busy will help you all to get through this time. Being active is very
important for growing bodies and to keep minds healthy.

Ideas include:

Interesting sites that give virtual tours:

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Last updated: 24 Apr 2020