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Our child protection and out-of-home care (OOHC) services are essential and will continue during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We will likely change the way we deliver some of these services. This may mean a change in the way we conduct home visits, or arrange family time for children in care.
Caseworkers have been provided with practice considerations and health and safety procedures to continue their work.
See our coronavirus information for carers. This includes:
It is a hard and worrying time for all families at the moment. The consistent advice from health experts, to reduce the spread of COVID-19, is that people need to stay home and distance themselves from others outside their immediate home. This means people everywhere cannot see many of the people they interact with on a daily basis and care about deeply. If a child you love is in care, you probably feel extra worry and sadness. You probably have lots of questions. We will try to answer some of them here.
Yes. Time with your child is still very important.
For families were restoration is the case plan goal, we will do our best to find ways to maintain face-to-face family time. Your caseworker will talk to you about your individual plan.
For families that have a child in a permanent care arrangement we will use some different ways for you to stay in touch with your child during this time. You may be able to be in contact with them through phone calls and video calls, text messages or letters.
We know that it will be very hard not to see your child in person for a little while. The reason is to keep you, your child and their carers as safe as possible. This is very important to us.
It is important that you have a say about how you want to stay in contact with your child. Talk to your child’s caseworker about this.
These changes are temporary. Family time arrangements will go back to normal as soon as it is safe for people in the community to be in more contact again. We will follow Government and Health advice closely and commit to ensuring that you and your child remain as connected as possible during this time.
Your caseworker will talk with you and all of your children and their carers to work out how you can stay in touch with them all.
If you usually get together as a family, you might have a video catch up all together. Or you might get to be in touch with them each separately. Let us know your ideas for the ways you would like to see your children. We will do what we can to accommodate requests while still following Government and Health advice.
We understand that time with your child is very important for them and for you. It is crucial for continuing your relationships, attachments and for security. We want to make sure that you continue to have time to catch up, to show each other love and have fun together.
You can use phone calls and video calls to try new activities. You could:
Speak to your child’s caseworker if you are worried that phone or online contact may be hard.
We know that you look forward to seeing your child. We will try to be as creative as we can to keep you and your child connected. You can talk to your child’s caseworker about how you would like to be in contact with your child. They can speak to your child and their carer about what will work best for your child.
You can also speak to the caseworker’s manager if you have worries.
Children will have questions about why things have changed. If your child sees that you are not worried about the change then they are less likely to feel worried too.
You can help your child with this change by:
It is normal to worry a lot about the people you love right now. You may worry that your child could get sick and how you can find out if they do get sick. You may have questions about their schooling or other changes to their life during COVID-19.
Talk to your child’s caseworker. It is their job to keep you up to date and make a plan with you about how to share information about your child.
Your child might worry about you getting sick. Let them know that you will try hard not to get sick and to stay healthy. Let the caseworker know how you will tell them if you get sick.
Yes. We will still have case planning meetings for children. These will usually happen by phone or video during COVID-19. Your child’s caseworker will include you. Ask for assistance if you have worries and need help to phone or video in to meetings.
If your child asks you about the virus, be honest, open and calm. This is the best way to stop them from feeling anxious about what’s going on.
Speak in words they can understand and answer their questions to the best of your ability. If you are unsure, look to NSW Healthfor up-to-date advice and news.
You can also contact the National Coronavirus Health Information line on 1800 020 080
Your child’s carer and caseworker will be talking to your child about how they can stay healthy. You can also talk to them about this. Make sure your child knows how to reduce their chances of contracting or spreading the virus. Talk to them about the steps to keep themselves, and those around them, healthy.
This is a very stressful time. You are not alone and there are people who can help.
You can call:
It is perfectly normal for children to have questions about the Coronavirus. Children will look to you and other adults on how to manage their reactions.
It’s ok to talk to them about Coronavirus. A calm, reassuring conversation will actually help. Speak in words they understand. Listen and answer their questions as honestly as possible and correct any misunderstandings. This will help them feel informed and understand what is happening. Keep up to date with the facts from reliable sources such as the NSW Health website.
Children are likely to have questions about their birth family and why, in some situations, they can’t see them face-to-face because of the Coronavirus. Help them understand that it is just a precaution to help stop the risk of the Coronavirus spreading. It’s not because they or their family are sick or have done anything wrong. Help them connect in other ways. Let them know it won’t be forever. When things calm down and the risk is over they will be able to see family members and friends face-to-face again.
Children can be distressed by hearing repeated stories so monitor how much children are being exposed to television and social media and encourage them to talk to you about what they are seeing and hearing.
The latest advice from the NSW Department of Education is that parents and carers in Greater Sydney must keep children at home unless they need to be at school.
However, all NSW public schools and early childhood education centres will be open for any child that needs to attend, including schools for children with special needs. Out-of-school-hours care should also be available.
Catholic and independent schools are being asked to support children in out-of-home care in the same way by remaining open.
Some school services may need to close temporarily if there is a confirmed COVID-19 case. Your school will let you know if this needs to happen.
Learning is especially important for children and young people in care.
We understand there is a concern about personal safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the risk to children is lower and the benefits of school are great.
As the child’s guardian with full parental responsibility, you make the decision about what is best for your child.
Children in out-of-home care sometimes have additional needs and vulnerabilities and school can provide important routine and structure.
Whatever you decide for the children in your care, encourage them to learn. You can do this in different ways – from reading, to home projects, to online learning sites.
If your child is unwell or if you have concerns about your health or the health of another member of your household, please seek medical advice before your child attends school.
Your school should be supporting you by providing learning materials, helping with technology and giving you specialist advice if needed. Talk to your child’s teacher or principal.
The NSW Department of Education has specific advice about child care and early education.
Children with colds, flus or any other illness should be kept at home. Children who have travelled overseas in the last 14 days should be kept at home.
If you are a mandatory reporter, and think a child or young person is at risk of significant harm, we’re asking you to please make an online report at reporter.childstory.nsw.gov.au
If you cannot make an online report, call the Child Protection Helpline on 13 21 11.
In an emergency, where there are urgent concerns for the child’s health or life, call the police using the emergency line triple zero (000).
Children and young people may be more vulnerable during this time as they are less ‘seen’ by other safe adults.
If you are a mandatory reporter and are concerned about the safety and wellbeing of a child:
DCJ funded support services, including residential care, early intervention and family preservation programs will continue to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic. Speak to your service provider about how services may have changed during this time.
The Human Services Network (HSNet) is an online platform where you can search for essential services in your area, including family services and food relief. Visit the HSNet website to search for services in your area.
Ask Izzy is a website and app with information on where to get help for shelter, food, health and other critical services. Visit the Ask Izzy website to search for services in your area.
Adoption and Permanency Services will continue to operate with some changes to the way we deliver services. Some steps in an open adoption process may be limited or delayed, as all upcoming adoption training seminars are postponed until further notice.
We will regularly review advice from the relevant bodies and update our website when seminars resume.
Families may experience extra stress at this time. They are often isolated from their support networks. People that they would normally ask for support may not be available. Without the normal routines of school, sport and social activities some children may be at even greater risk of harm.
As part of the community, there are small, practical ways you can help. Physical distancing does not mean we cannot stay connected. It does not mean we stop thinking about the safety of children.
Consider checking in on the children in your life that may be vulnerable. You can call, text, or message them on social media. You could:
Information on Talking about the COVID vaccine for children in OOHC.
The NSW Government has funded free access to the SleepWellBaby app for NSW parents with newborns or children up to 12 months. New parents can access evidence-based parenting education and specialised telehealth services. Find out more on the Tresillian website.
05 Aug 2022
We acknowledge Aboriginal people as the First Nations Peoples of NSW and pay our respects to Elders past, present, and future.
Informed by lessons of the past, Department of Communities and Justice is improving how we work with Aboriginal people and communities. We listen and learn from the knowledge, strength and resilience of Stolen Generations Survivors, Aboriginal Elders and Aboriginal communities.
You can access our apology to the Stolen Generations.