Foster Care Worker Resource Hub

Supporting the foster care workforce through COVID-19

Resources for foster care workers to support their wellbeing, service delivery, and safety as they continue to work with foster carers, children and young people in care, and their families through COVID-19.

On this page:
  • COVID – 19 resources
  • Funded Agency Channel
  • Working through COVID-19
  • Mental Health 
  • Financial Resources
  • Education, childcare and training
  • Legal resources
  • Housing resources
  • Getting carers online

Visit the Centre’s COVID-19 information page to learn more and get the latest advice relevant to our sector.

Covid-19

COVID-19 resources

Sources of information on COVID-19, including directions, frequently asked questions, and translated resources.

Restrictions in Victoria

From 11:59 pm on Tuesday 27 July 2021, restrictions have changed:

  • There are no restrictions on the reasons to leave home but staying COVIDSafe remains important.
  • There are no restrictions on travelling across the state or to regional Victoria.
  • Face masks are mandatory indoors and outdoors. You do not need to wear a mask in your own home, or if a lawful exception applies.
  • If you have any symptoms, no matter how mild you should get tested for COVID-19.

Social gatherings

  • Private gatherings in the home are not permitted.
  • You can see friends and family outdoors in a public place in a group of up to 10 people. A public place is an area accessible by members of the public like a park or the beach. It does not include your backyard at home.

Work and education

  • If you can work or study from home, you should continue to do so. If you can’t work from home or another suitable premise, you can go to work.
  • Offices can increase in attendance to 25% capacity or 10 people, whichever is greater.
  • Schools and early childcare are open.

Religion and ceremony

  • Religious gatherings and ceremonies are allowed, with density requirements of 1 person per 4sqm, and no more than 100 people per indoor space and 300 people per outdoor space.
  • Places of worship are required to have a COVID Check-In Marshal monitoring patrons checking in using the Service Victoria app.
  • You can have a wedding with up to 50 people at a venue. This limit includes the couple and two witnesses. The celebrant, and a photographer are in addition to the cap.
  • Funerals are allowed with up to 50 people. This limit doesn’t include babies under 12 months of age, or the people required to conduct the funeral.

Sport and recreation

  • Community sport is open for all ages, including training and competition. This includes contact and non-contact sport. The minimum number of participants (players, coaches, referees, officials and carers/parents) needed to train or compete are permitted to attend.
  • Indoor and outdoor physical recreation is open, including gyms, with density requirements of 1 person per 4 sqm, and no more than 100 people per indoor space and 300 people per outdoor space.
  • Class and group sizes may be up to 10 people, plus people required to conduct the activity (such as a trainer running a gym class).
  • Physical recreational facilities are required to have a COVID Check-In Marshal monitoring patrons checking in using the Service Victoria app.
  • Equipment must be cleaned between users. You must wear a face mask at all times, except when you are strenuously exercising and you are out of breath, or of another exception applies.
  • Operational food and drink facilities within a sport or recreation facility must comply with the density requirement of 1 person per 4sqm and a maximum of 100 people.

Retail and hospitality

  • Shops are open with a density requirement of 1 person per 4 sqm. While shopping you need to adhere to the patron limits per shop. This limit on patrons is in place to ensure everyone in the shop can keep 1.5 metres distance.
  • Beauty and personal care services are open. Masks can be removed when needed to complete the treatment.
  • Restaurants and cafes can open for seated service with up to 25 people before density requirements apply. A density requirement of 1 person per 4 sqm applies, with a maximum of 100 people (indoors and outdoors) per venue. Group sizes are limited to 10 people. A limit on customers for seated service is in place to ensure everyone can keep 1.5 metres distance. Food courts can also re-open with a density requirement of 1 person per 4 sqm with a maximum of 100 people per venue (indoors and outdoors) and a COVID Check-in Marshal must be present.
  • Restaurants and cafes are required to have a COVID Check-in Marshal monitoring patrons checking in using the Service Victoria app.

Entertainment

  • Community facilities including libraries can open with density requirements of 1 person per 4sqm, with no more than 100 people per indoor space and 300 people per outdoor space. Group sizes are limited to 10 people.
  • All entertainment and community facilities are required to have a COVID Check-in Marshal monitoring patrons checking-in using the Service Victoria app.
  • Bars, karaoke facilities and nightclubs are open with seated service only (dancefloor closed), a density requirement of 1 person per 4 sqm and a cap of 100 people per venue.
  • Indoor seated venues such as cinemas can have up to 100 people per space. Non-seated indoor venues have a density requirement of 1 person per 4 sqm and up to 100 people per space.

Face masks

  • Face masks must be carried at all times and must be worn indoors and outdoors.
  • You do not need to wear a mask in your own home, the home of your intimate partner or if a lawful exception applies.

Visiting alpine resorts

  • Travel to regional Victorian Alpine Resorts is permitted providing you have a COVID-19 test within the 72 hours prior to arriving at the resort, and have received a negative test result. Testing is not required for children under 12 years. You must provide proof of your negative test results, such as a text message from your testing provider. 
  • For more information, see questions and answers on the travel page.

More info here can be found here: https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/coronavirus-covidsafe-settings

South Australia

It is recommended that South Australian residents do not travel to Victoria.

The Victorian Cross border corridor is currently defined as the area 40 km either side of the border between South Australia and Victoria.

Restrictions

All travellers who have been in Victoria are prohibited from entering South Australia.

Exceptions

Essential Travellers, returning South Australian residents, people genuinely relocating, and people escaping Domestic Violence who have been in Victoria, can enter South Australia, but are subject to Level 4 requirements:

  • COVID-19 test on day 1, 5, & 13.
  • Self-quarantine for 14 days (from the day of arrival).
  • Must wear a face mask (covering mouth and nose) at any time that they come into contact with the public for a period of 14 days after their arrival in South Australia.

 

More information: https://www.covid-19.sa.gov.au/restrictions-and-responsibilities/travel-restrictions#vic

 

Queensland

You must complete a Queensland entry pass to enter Queensland from anywhere in Australia or New Zealand, including returning Queensland residents.

By completing a Queensland entry pass, we can quickly contact you if an interstate exposure venue or hotspot is declared. This helps us reduce the risk of COVID-19 in Queensland and manage outbreaks.

  • You must complete the Queensland entry pass in the 3 days before you travel to Queensland. It takes a few minutes to complete and your declaration will be sent to your email.
  • You will be asked where you have been in the past 14 days. You must list all states and territories you have visited, even if your visit was brief or you travelled through an area.
  • If conditions change or you need to update your travel details, you’ll need to complete a new declaration with updated details before you enter Queensland.

 

More information: https://www.qld.gov.au/health/conditions/health-alerts/coronavirus-covid-19/current-status/public-health-directions/travelling-to-queensland

 

New South Wales 

Victoria has been identified as an area of concern by NSW Health in the most recent COVID-19 concerns notice.

Check the rules for interstate travellers to see if you are allowed to enter NSW.

If you are allowed to enter NSW, you must

You must complete the declaration form

  • either within the 24-hour period before you enter NSW or on entry
  • whether you cross the border by any means including air, road or rail
  • each time you enter NSW, but not more than once per calendar day.

Complete a travel declaration form on Service NSW website.

 

More information: https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/rules/border-restrictions#entering-nsw-from-interstate

 

Northern Territory 

There are strict border controls in place for all arrivals to the Territory, including returning Territorians.

All arrivals to the Northern Territory (NT) must:

There are currently no hotspots in place for Victoria.

More information here.

Australian Capital Territory 

Watch and assess requirements for Victoria

Anyone who has spent any time in Victoria in the last 14 days and is seeking to enter the ACT after 11.59pm on Tuesday 27 July 2021, must:

  1. comply with all public health directions in place within the jurisdiction you are currently in, and
    If you are permitted to travel you must:
  2. complete an online declaration form within 24 hours prior to arriving in the ACT
  3. monitor for symptoms for 14 days from the date last in the area, and if you experience any symptoms of COVID‑19 go to a COVID-19 clinic to be tested.

 

More info https://www.covid19.act.gov.au/travel/entering-the-act/vic

 

Tasmania 

Victoria (VIC) remains low-risk.

High-risk (Level 1) premises listed here: https://www.coronavirus.tas.gov.au/travellers-and-visitors/coming-to-tasmania/travel-alert#Victoria—high-risk-declarations

A number of premises in VIC have been declared high-risk (Level 1) as they were visited by people with COVID-19.

Travellers who have spent time at a high-risk (Level 1) location at the specified dates and times listed below will not be permitted to travel to Tasmania.

Travelling from low-risk areas

  • Travellers who have only spent time in low-risk areas in the 14 days prior to arrival in Tasmania are not required to quarantine upon arrival.
  • Travellers can register their travel and contact details through the Tas e-Travel system no more than one day before they arrive. This helps ensure declarations about previous travel are as up-to-date as possible, especially while new high-risk premises are being regularly identified in other jurisdictions.
  • Travellers from low-risk areas are permitted to transit directly though medium and high-risk areas without being subject to quarantine requirements on arrival under specific conditions – see low-risk areas for more details.

 

https://www.coronavirus.tas.gov.au/travellers-and-visitors/coming-to-tasmania/travel-alert#Victoria—high-risk-declarations

 

 

Victorian Travel Permit System 

Find out about the permit system, which applies to travellers coming to Victoria from anywhere in Australia or New Zealand click here 

 

This also includes information about Extreme Risk zones and Red, Orange and Green zones around the country

 

Extreme risk zone 

An extreme risk zone means a specified location assessed as extreme risk for COVID-19 transmission, but only during the specific period for that location detailed on the Victorian Travel Map on this page as amended from time to time with the approval of the Chief Health Officer. 

From 9:00pm on Friday 23 July 2021, if you were in an extreme risk zone after the relevant commencement time (for NSW, 9:00 pm on Friday 9 July 2021)  in the last 14 days you may only enter Victoria with an exception, Specified Worker Permit, transit permit, or an exemption. 

There are additional requirements for workers permitted to enter Victoria with a specified worker permit, including freight workers, who have been in an extreme risk zone, a red zone or an orange zone after the relevant zone commencement time within the last 14 days. This includes a requirement for freight workers to get tested for COVID-19 every three days if you have been in an extreme risk zone within the last 14 days. For more information, refer to: travellers eligible to apply for a Specified Worker Permit. 

Those who attempt to enter Victoria without an exception or exemption or eligible permit will be fined AUD$5452 and could be sent back or placed in hotel quarantine for 14 days at their own expense.

These websites contain information about current exposure sites in relevant jurisdictions:  

From time to time the Victorian Chief Health Officer may determine additional sites in other jurisdictions to be very high-risk exposure sites. If this occurs, the additional sites will be listed on this page.

Current travel updates

The Chief Health Officer has declared the following update under Victoria’s travel permit system:

  • The following Queensland local government areas (LGAs) are red zones (other than for transit) under Victoria’s travel permit system from 8:00pm AEST Saturday 31 July 2021:
    • City of Brisbane, Moreton Bay Regional Council, City of Gold Coast, City of Ipswich, Lockyer Valley Regional Council, Logan City, Noosa Shire Council, Redland City, Scenic Rim Regional Council, Somerset Regional Council and Sunshine Coast Regional Council.
  • If you are a Victorian resident and have been in a red zone since current red zones came into effect, other than for transit, you can obtain a red zone permit to enter Victoria but you must travel directly home, get tested and quarantine for 14 days. 
  • If you are a non-Victorian resident and you have been in a red zone since current red zones came into effect, other than for transit, you cannot obtain a permit and you cannot enter Victoria unless you have an exception or exemption.
  • South Australia and Norfolk Island are orange zones.
  • People who have been in these areas in the past 14 days and are travelling into Victoria need to apply for an orange zone permit. People cannot apply for an orange zone permit if they have also been in a red or extreme risk zone in the past 14 days.
  • Orange zone permit holders entering Victoria must isolate on arrival, get tested within 72 hours, and stay isolated until they get a negative result.
  • Existing red zone arrivals to Victoria from South Australia and Norfolk Island who have had a test since arriving in Victoria and received a negative result are released from quarantine.
  • Permit checks are in place at borders and for relevant arriving flights at Victorian airports.

For detailed information, please visit the travel updates page.

To view additional information about the Victoria’s Travel Permit System (extreme risk, red, orange and green zones) for Australia and New Zealand, refer to the map below or visit the travel updates page.

Zones apply from different times and dates. You may be required to apply for a different permit based on the time you were in a certain area. To find out when red or orange zones apply to you, view the map below or visit  the travel updates page.

Border community update

The City of Wagga Wagga, Hay Shire Council, Lockhart Shire Council and Murrumbidgee Council will no longer be included in the cross border bubble.

These local government areas will be included under the Extreme Risk Zone from 11:59pm 27 July, in line with the rest of NSW, and residents will need a exemption, exception, transit permit or specified worker permit to enter Victoria.

Extreme Risk Zone update

An extreme risk zone category has been added to the Victorian travel zone system, effective 9:00pm on Friday 23 July 2021. From 9:00pm on Friday 9 July 2021, NSW is considered an extreme risk zone.

Different requirements apply for anyone planning to enter Victoria from a jurisdiction defined by the Department of Health as an extreme risk zone with extreme risk of COVID-19 transmission.

  • Anyone who has been in an extreme risk zone after the relevant zone commencement time in the last 14 days will not be allowed to enter Victoria unless you have an exemption, exception, transit permit or specified worker permit.
    • if you have been doing hotel quarantine in an extreme risk zone and immediately transit to Victoria, or if you are in the extreme risk zone for immediate transit to Victoria only, you may be eligible for a green permit
    • exemptions must be applied for and are only granted under exceptional circumstances, including for care and compassionate reasons. To apply, refer to:  exemption.
    • exceptions only apply to particular categories (for example, air crew, travelling in an emergency or when escaping harm).
    • eligible permits include a transit permit for people traveling through Victoria to another jurisdiction, and a specified worker permit for workers listed on the Specified Worker List. 

If you plan to enter Victoria from a red zone after 9:00pm on Friday 23 July 2021:

  • Victorian residents who have been in a red zone (but not in an extreme risk zone) after the relevant zone commencement time in the last 14 days can apply for a single-use red zone permit, and must follow permit requirements upon entry into Victoria, including:
    • self-quarantine for 14 days (you can’t self-quarantine at an alpine resort);
    • get tested for COVID-19 within 3 days of arrival;
    • get tested for COVID-19 again 13 days after arrival;
    • follow the current restrictions in Victoria.
  • Non-Victorian residents who have been in a red zone after the zone commencement time within the last 14 days will not be allowed to enter Victoria unless you have an exemption, exception, transit permit or specified worker Permit.
    • if you have been doing hotel quarantine in an extreme risk zone and immediately transit to Victoria, or if you are in the extreme risk zone for immediate transit to Victoria only, you may be eligible for a green permit
    • exemptions must be applied for and are only granted under exceptional circumstances, including for care and compassionate reasons. To apply refer to:  exemption.
    • exceptions only apply to particular categories (for example, air crew, travelling in an emergency or when escaping harm). 
    • eligible permits include a transit permit for people traveling through Victoria to another jurisdiction, and a Specified Worker permit for workers listed on the Specified Worker List. 

During the current outbreak in New South Wales and South Australia, it is recommended transiting travellers avoid areas of high community transmission within these areas as identified by the relevant Department of Health. If you must transit through these areas, it is recommended you plan your journey in advance so you do not need to stop for fuel, food or rest in these locations wherever possible. If you spend more than 24 hours in transit in an extreme risk zone, you will no longer be permitted to enter Victoria unless you have an exemption, exception, transit permit, or specified worker permit.

Those who attempt to enter Victoria without an exception or exemption or eligible permit will be fined AUD$5452 and could be sent back or placed in hotel quarantine for 14 days at their own expense. 

About the permit

  • The type of permit that you require will depend on where you have been.
  • When you apply for a permit you will be asked where you are coming from and where you have travelled to.
  • This is like a registration system and if you want to travel into Victoria you will need to let us know if you have been in a location which has been designated in as an extreme risk, red, orange or green zone.
  • Whether you live in an area, have worked there, been shopping, or just travelled through, you will need to include these locations on your permit and there will be some conditions.
  • The permit system also applies to Victorian residents returning home from interstate.
  • It is an offence to provide misleading information, with fines of up to $1,652.

DHHS have created a Frequently Asked Questions for kinship and foster carers resource that provides answers to key questions from carers. 

DHHS have released guidance for COVID-19 planning in the community services sector, providing advice and tools in preparing for service changes, including restoration of face-to-face services. Last updated 3 June 2020.

Subscribe to the Centre’s daily COVID-19 update, which includes relevant health statistics as well as sector specific information, here. 

If you are managing media around COVID-19 you may wish to draw on the resources provided by DHHS here. 

You can direct carers to the most up to date information and advice about coronavirus (COVID-19) – symptoms, travel and what to do to reduce the risk of infection here. 

If supporting carers and families, translated resources on COVID-19 can be found here. 

DHHS have created a Frequently Asked Questions for kinship and foster carers resource that provides answers to key questions from carers.

DHHS have released guidance for COVID-19 planning in the community services sector, providing advice and tools in preparing for service changes, including restoration of face-to-face services.

Subscribe to the Centre’s daily COVID-19 update, which includes relevant health statistics as well as sector specific information, here.

If you are managing media around COVID-19 you may wish to draw on the resources provided by DHHS here.

You can direct carers to the most up to date information and advice about coronavirus (COVID-19) – symptoms, travel and what to do to reduce the risk of infection here.

If supporting carers and families, translated resources on COVID-19 can be found here.

Ask Izzy is a free and anonymous services database, where you can search over 360,000 services to find housing, meals, healthcare, counselling, legal advice, addiction treatment and more. They have COVID-specific information available. 

From 11:59pm on Thursday 27 May, anyone aged 12 years old and over must wear a fitted face mask indoors and outdoors (except at private residences), unless an exception applies. 

This includes places such as: 

  • shopping centres, supermarkets, retail outlets and markets 
  • when visiting hospitals and aged care facilities 
  • restaurants and cafes, when you are not eating or drinking 
  • indoor workplaces 
  • libraries 
  • cinemas 
  • churches and places of worship 
  • entertainment facilities 
  • outdoors i.e. taking the dog for a walk  
  • recreational facilities and gyms (an exemption applies when engaged in any strenuous exercise) 
  • on public transport, in taxis, or in ride share vehicles 
  • at airports and in aircraft 

Masks in schools: 

  • Students under the age of 12 do not have to wear face masks. Students aged 12 and over will need to wear face masks when they are indoors and outdoors where at least 1.5 metres distance cannot be maintained. 
  • However, children who are aged 12 and over who are attending primary school do not need to wear a face mask at school. The Victorian Chief Health Officer has advised that it is not practical to require some primary school students to wear face masks while others are not required to. 
  • Students over 12 years old who attend a special school are not required to wear a face mask where their disability means it would not be suitable but may do so if they or their family choose to. 

Additional Resources 

Community Advocacy Resources 

Translated Resources 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) translated information for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, health professionals and industry. Information includes factsheets and promotional materials.  

Covid-19

Funded Agency Channel

Information on updates, response plans, and guidelines provided by the Funded Agency Channel. 

The Funded Agency Channel (FAC) is the website that supports the partnership relationship between the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing, the Department of Health and the Department of Education and Training and the organisations they fund. It is one of the best ways to stay up to date on policies and guidelines issued to the sector during this time. 

The Cares Services and Child and Family Services Plans provide comprehensive advice for services in these sectors to support prevention, case practice and management and guidance to respond to COVID-19. 

You can access the plans here. 

Frequently Asked Questions about the plans have been prepared, and are available here. 

Note: these plans are being updated regularly, so make sure to download the latest from the FAC website links above. 

DFFH have adopted a flexible approach to monitoring agencies. The following document covers service disruption and continuity, monitoring, that no funding or service agreements will be ceased during this time, workforce retention, and record keeping. Information can be found here. 

There is new practice advice regarding support for young people in Care Services to comply with stay at home directions during coronavirus COVID-19 available here. 

You can subscribe to the Funded Agency Channel newsletter here. and access the latest news here. 

FAC have released this guidance for choosing and using a video conferencing system for your organisation. 

Covid-19

Working through COVID-19

Resources for workers on protective equipment, infection control, and worksafe.

  • All services must enact a COVIDSafe plan which outlines safety, prevention and response in the event that coronavirus is linked to the workplace. You can find guidance and a template here. 
  • Services should notify the Department of Health and Human Services (the department) whenever a client tests positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) by completing a simple online form . 

FAQs

Can community services continue to operate under lockdown restrictions?

Community services which are required to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of vulnerable people should continue to be provided.

Can I travel beyond the 5km metropolitan Melbourne limit for work?

Yes, you may travel outside the 5km radius for work, including to visit or support clients.

COVID-19 Resitrctions Resources: 

 

Service Delivery 

Please be advised: It is now a requirement for any person delivering community services that you wear a face mask at work. This requirement applies to workers throughout Victoria (regional and metropolitan areas). 

DHHS has released guidance for COVID-19 planning in the community services sector, providing advice and tools in preparing for service changes, including restoration of face-to-face services. 

DHHS has announced in their FAQ COVID-19 Targeted Action Planfor care services that all face-to-face contact with children/young people, carers, and families should be kept to a minimum. 

If necessary, face-to-face must use physical distancing and hygiene practices. 

If a face-to-face visit is required: 

  • clients should be contacted prior to visiting to screen in relation to their health (whether they or anyone in their household has a confirmed case of COVID-19 or is unwell) 
  • identify close contacts of the client (that may be in self-isolation) during the pre-visit contact call. Enquire about other household members present on arrival and validate to pre-visit check responses. 
  • staff should practice good hygiene before, during and after visits and always maintain 1.5 metres between people and 1 person per 4 square metres. 
  • increase the frequency of virtual contact to check in with clients who may be at greater risk if they contract COVID-19 (this applies particularly to the vulnerable or elderly), noting self-isolation has been recommended for clients over 70 years of age, over 60 years of age where they have an existing health condition, or over 50 years of age for people of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent 
  • ensure visits are as brief as possible to satisfy the purpose 
  • monitor the risk and the wellbeing of all clients and modify the frequency of visits if the risk has been assessed as increasing 
  • consider using additional monitoring processes and mechanisms (for example, telephone or skype contact) 
  • provide groceries and toiletries where these are accessible to the CSO or ACCO and in situations where a client is not able to source these independently. 

Monitor the health, safety and wellbeing of clients who are required to self-isolate through telephone or skype contact, or other non-face-to-face communication methods. 

Please be advised: It is now a requirement for any person delivering community services that you wear a face mask at work. This requirement applies to workers throughout Victoria (regional and metropolitan areas).

DHHS has released guidance for COVID-19 planning in the community services sector, providing advice and tools in preparing for service changes, including restoration of face-to-face services.

DHHS has announced in their FAQ COVID-19 Targeted Action Plan for care services that all face-to-face contact with children/young people, carers, and families should be kept to a minimum.

If necessary, face-to-face must use physical distancing and hygiene practices.

If a face-to-face visit is required:

  • clients should be contacted prior to visiting to screen in relation to their health (whether they or anyone in their household has a confirmed case of COVID-19 or is unwell)
  • identify close contacts of the client (that may be in self-isolation) during the pre-visit contact call. Enquire about other household members present on arrival and validate to pre-visit check responses.
  • staff should practice good hygiene before, during and after visits and always maintain 1.5 metres between people and 1 person per 4 square metres.
  • increase the frequency of virtual contact to check in with clients who may be at greater risk if they contract COVID-19 (this applies particularly to the vulnerable or elderly), noting self-isolation has been recommended for clients over 70 years of age, over 60 years of age where they have an existing health condition, or over 50 years of age for people of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent
  • ensure visits are as brief as possible to satisfy the purpose
  • monitor the risk and the wellbeing of all clients and modify the frequency of visits if the risk has been assessed as increasing
  • consider using additional monitoring processes and mechanisms (for example, telephone or skype contact)
  • provide groceries and toiletries where these are accessible to the CSO or ACCO and in situations where a client is not able to source these independently.

Monitor the health, safety and wellbeing of clients who are required to self-isolate through telephone or skype contact, or other non-face-to-face communication methods.

Please be advised: It is now a requirement for any person delivering community services that you wear a face mask at work. This requirement applies to workers throughout Victoria (regional and metropolitan areas). 

Requests for PPE are being managed by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).  Priority will be given to facilities, programs and carers where there has been a confirmed case of COVID-19.   

Useful links: 

The Australian Government Department of Health is offering a free online training module to help you protect yourself and the children and young people you are caring for from infection with COVID-19. You may complete this module yourself, and encourage your foster carers and support workers to also complete it. This will ensure that accurate information around COVID-19 is being consistently shared in the sector. 

Call the Coronavirus hotline on 1800 675 398 for health information or a COVID19 symptoms assessment – this service is available 24 hours a day. 

If you need interpreting services, call 131 450. 

The Department of Health and Human services (DHHS) advises that, until further notice, Shared Lives and Our Carers for Our Kids training delivery to foster care applicants should be undertaken using online video conferencing as group or one on one training. The Shared Lives training package includes guidance and modifications for delivering the training in a group or one on one setting.

Fostering Connections and the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare have developed a resource on facilitating training through online platforms. We note that many agencies are already trialing this work and are grateful for the input from those agencies.

To receive a copy of this resource please email danielle.walt@cfewcfw.asn.au

Working remotely requires consideration by yourself and your employer of:

  • Minisimising the spread of COVID-19
  • Duty of care
  • Home office environment
  • Workstation set up
  • Keeping in touch
  • Mental and emotional wellbeing
  • Privacy and online safety

Many of us are working remotely, and the same goes for the caregivers and young people we support whether it be employment or education. To ensure that this is done as effectively as possible, please speak with your employer to access their specific policy.

In addition to this, please consider of the Centre’s Workplace Safety resources here.

DHHS has released guidance for using and choosing video conferencing apps.

Family Safety Victoria has released COVID-19 Questions and Answers for specialist services:

Covid-19

Mental Health

Resources for maintaining your mental health, supporting carers, and empowering children and young people.

The Staying at Home Toolkit for Foster Carers includes advice on how carers can look after their own wellbeing, and the wellbeing of children and young people in their care, including creating a routine, creating sensory breaks, meditation, mindfulness, cultivating resilience and understanding heightened behaviour.

COVID-19 has brought us into a ‘State of Emergency’ following an exceptionally taxing bushfire season. Psychological first aid is used to support people following a disaster to assist them in adjusting to the situation or finding the appropriate support they may need. The below resources also have clear examples on what it is and how to provide psychological first aid.

It may be of value for agencies to consider information on psychological first aid, or consult the World Health Organisation (WHO) factsheet on COVID-19 specific Psychological First Aid. This can be supported by using resources on psychosocial assessment resources and tools in response to disasters.

Head to Health is a hub for digital mental health resources run by the Department of Health. It has a collection of COVID-19 specific resources covering topics such as how to access mental health services, advice for parents, and how to keep older Australians safe and connected online. 

 

While supporting carers, children, and families, it’s incredibly important to take care of your own mental and wellbeing.

The Red Cross have recommendations on how to look after your well-being during COVID-19.

BeyondBlue has created a great guide for looking after your mental health during the outbreak.

THIS WAY UP provides online learning programs, education and research about mental health.

Along with their wide range of online courses, they are offering COVID-19 specific workbooks with practical tips and strategies that can support your emotional well-being during this time.

SANE and Beyond Blue also host forums for people seeking support.

Workplaces may also benefit from considering how they can provide leadership in psychological safety during this time.

FutureLearn, offers courses that will help you manage your mental health and support others who are struggling during lockdown.

They’ve developed the ‘Support Your Mental Health In Lockdown’ collection.

Carers can access additional information on caring through COVID-19 by visiting the Foster Care Association of Victoria (FCAV). Carers with FCAV membership have access to their Carer Information and Support Service which provides carers with an independent referral and assistance point.

If you would like to support a caregiver to access telehealth medical or counselling appointments, they may do so by contacting their GP. You can find resources on the National Health Plan here, and specifically about the elements on supporting mental health here.

Your carers may benefit from information on telehealth during COVID-19, and you can also access factsheets for specific providers.

Carers should ask their service providers about their telehealth options, and whether these are appropriate for their clinical care needs. 

Medicare has introduced new temporary telehealth mental health services until 30 September 2020. This means people eligible for a range of Medicare mental health services can now receive those services via videoconferencing or telephone.
 
If a carer is looking for a psychologist, , the Australian Psychological Society’s website, Find A Psychologist, provides details about how to access psychologists across Australia.
 

Some of the most important things carers can be doing to maintain good mental health during this time include:

  • Establish and stick to a routine with their household that includes chores, learning, outdoor activities, time away from screens, and meals together.
  • Staying active (while maintaining physical distance from others while exercising)
  • Checking-in with loved ones. While it’s not the same as seeing them face-to-face and giving them a hug, just talking to a loved one can help boost people’s mood.
  • Balancing their intake of news and information. If they are finding the influx of information about COVID-19 overwhelming, limit yourself to checking the news only once or twice a day, and make sure they read, watch or listen to something uplifting and non-COVID related every day.
  • Encouraging carers to ask children and young people how they are feeling. Uncertainty and illness can make young people feel distressed and it is important to take time to acknowledge and validate those feelings.
  • Seek support if they need it. Beyond Blue has a Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Service that you can call on 1800 512 348.

The Conversation has tips for combining play and mindfulness to support children during this time.

Headspace has created a fantastic guide for young people about how to cope with stress related to the outbreak.

raisingchildren.net.au has created extensive resources about how to talk to young people about COVID-19, and how to navigate isolation and social distancing with children, teenagers, and young people with a disability, autism and other conditions.

Emerging minds have created this resource for support young people during the pandemic

Beyond Blue is hosting an online forum for young people to discuss their feelings and concerns during the COVID-19 crisis. 

A service offering sector specific expertise in matters unique to foster carers would seem particularly meaningful at a time of heightened stress and anxiety for as a result of Covid 19 shutdowns. Foster carers may self-refer to this service.

Some of the issues carers may access support for include:

  • Loss and grief following a placement termination/breakdown
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Compassion fatigue
  • System ‘trauma’ following CIMS, being deregistered, loss of carer identity

Link to referral: https://www.fcav.org.au/carer-resources/cap

Covid-19

Financial resources

Where to direct carers who have questions or concerns regarding the financial impacts of COVID-19. 

There have been numerous financial support packages which may be confusing to navigate, especially for carers with children in the home along with their other duties. Other carers may have found themselves without an income as a result of the lockdowns. The information below can be shared to help explain the new packages to your carer households, and identify where they can seek further support.

The Victorian Government has announced a financial support package for the Child and Family Welfare sector. A total of $77.5million will be provided to the sector over the next two years. There are three key aspects of this package that will impact foster and kinship carers:

  • $11 million will provide extra financial support for carers
  • There will be a one-off payment of $600 to all foster and kinship carers per child in their care to help cover the additional costs of full-time caring at home.
  • An additional $2.3mil pool of funding is being created for foster and kinship carers.

For more details, see the FAQ and media release on the DHHS site.

Beyond government payments, a range of options are being made available to those who are experiencing financial hardship. Many carers may be feeling overwhelmed navigating the financial ramifications of COVID-19.

Carers may benefit from the Moneysmart website, which provides a range of advice including on early access to superannuation and investment scams, financial assistance, and practical steps for living on a reduced income.

For those who require urgent help with money, consider the resources available here.

You may also wish to refer carers to a financial counsellor by having them call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.

For detailed information about payments for individuals affected by COVID-19, see Services Australia.

For detailed information about support for businesses affected by COVID-19, see Business Victoria.

Consumer Affairs Victoria have set out rights and responsibilities in a range of areas where they have been receiving queries. The may be of use to carers with concerns regarding housing and tenants rights, price gouging, and event cancellations and refunds.

Further information on consumer rights, including answers to commonly asked questions, has been provided by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

The Federal Government has increased the JobSeeker payment and introduced the new JobKeeper payment to support people whose employment and income has been affected by COVID-19. These payments are being boosted to a higher amount due to the Coronavirus Supplement (around double the usual payment you would receive).

Information on JobKeeper from the ATO, including links to enrol for payment, and JobKeeper guides, are available here. Note that carers may require direction to either the information for employers or information for employees.

 

Information on the JobSeeker payment from Service Australian, including links to enrol for payment, is available here.

 

If carers need to deal with Centrelink it is worth noting for them that the current wait times on the phone are long, and it is best to have their relevant information ready to go to save time. This provides a useful step by step of claiming payments.

 

Rates

  • From 28 September, the $550 per fortnight coronavirus supplement, which effectively doubled the fortnightly income support payment, will be reduced to $250. This means the effective maximum JobSeeker rate will be about $800.
  • Recipients will be able to earn up to $300 from employment before their payments are affected.

Eligibility

A person is eligible for Jobseeker if:

  • They have been stood down since March 1 2020 and there is no chance of being re-employed by their employer (for example, if the company has shut down or they have been made redundant).
  • They are a casual who hasn’t been employed for 12 months prior to March 1 2020, but this is dependent on incoming testing.

From 4 August, Australians receiving JobSeeker will need to connect with employment services and take part in job searches. From the end of September, a higher number of job searches will be required and the assets test and liquid assets waiting periods will be reintroduced.

Covid-19

Education and training resources

Resources for carers on school attendance, information on learning and educating at home, childcare, and training.

A Return to School Resource for Carers has been developed with DHHS, which is available here.

The Victorian Student Representative Council has analysed the results from their Learning from Remote Learning report and developed recommendation and advice from students. It can be found here.

The Victorian Government has announced the easing of restrictions in metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria from 11:59pm Thursday 10 June.

Schools will be able to resume face-to-face learning for all students.

To support foster carers caring for a school-aged child or young person who is no longer attending school due to the outbreak you can find a list of useful education and learning resources here.

If you require support to engage a child/young person in school or approve their school attendance, please refer to the following:

  • Providers should connect with the LOOKOUT school in their local areas if they are having difficulty with negotiating appropriate support and connection with the school. LOOKOUT contact details can be found here.
  • For updated advice regarding school term dates, attendance, and school bus services, visit the Department of Education’s coronavirus advice page for parents, carers and guardians. 
  • The Department of Education’s learning from home information site is designed to help support children’s learning and development if their school is closed. 

Project Rockit has launched a fantastic new series of interactive webinars to help young people thrive in this time of online learning. For more information, click here.

 

You may wish to direct carers to call the DET advice phone line for parents and carers on 1800 338 663.

The Department of Education and Training also have a range of learning resources and advice on their website. These resources include:

The Government has announced the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package that gives families fee relief for childcare during COVID-19. Foster carers not required to do anything to receive this package.

If a child is enrolled, they are eligible.

In the wake of COVID-19, Carer Kafe has transitioned to online learning. Carers may find training during this time to be helpful, you can find the training and webinar information here.

Covid-19

Legal resources

Resources on the operation of Family Contact during COVID-19, where to find answers on a range of common legal questions emerging from this situation, and how courts are operating during this time.

Family contact as written in the Court conditions can still go ahead by means of phone calls, facetime/skype, SMS, or email, and supervised contact may occur online.

Case Managers will need to liaise with Child Protection about how to best facilitate contact to ensure the safety of the household and confidentiality of the placement.

Advice on this and alternative placement arrangements can be found  in the DHHS OOHC Care Services and the FAQ Covid-19 Care Sector Response Plan.

Legal Aid has compiled information on a host of topics that may be beneficial to carers, available here

Justice Connect have pulled together resources designed to help people with common legal problems related to COVID-19, available here.

The Children’s Court of Victoria remains open and operational at all venues. However, there will be restricted entry to the Court, with court users appearing via audio visual link or telephone rather than in person.  Families are not required to attend Court in person provided lawyers hold up-to-date instructions and are able to contact clients by telephone.

Information on COVID-19 measures and the Children’s Court of Victoria can be found here.

Information on COVID-19 and the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria can be found here.

Information on COVID-19 measures and listing arrangements for the Family Court can be found here.

VALS provides information, initial legal advice, minor assistance and referral services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. They also offer duty lawyer assistance and legal casework services.

Covid-19

Housing resources

Resources on a range of housing issues that may have arisen as a result of COVID-19, including payment supports, information on eviction moritorium, and where carers can find further support. 

Information on the impacts of COVID-19 on renters can be found at Tenants Victoria.

Carers can also access the following support programs:

  • Private Rental Brokerage Program (PRAP) provides financial and practical assistance to establish and maintain private rental tenancies for people who are homeless or those who are at risk of homelessness, who are able to maintain private rental, or who are in private rental and need targeted time limited assistance to maintain their private rental. For more information about PRAP, visit a service provider website, such as Vincent Care or Launch Housing. You can find service guidelines here.
  • Housing Establishment Funds (HEF) helps individuals and families who are homeless or at imminent risk of homelessness to access emergency or alternative housing options, such as registered rooming houses, hotels/motels and caravan parks. Find more information about HEF here.
  • People experiencing or at risk of homelessness can call the toll free homelessness hotline on 1800 825 955. This number will direct the call to the closest homelessness entry point, or if the call is outside business hours, it will be directed to the After Hours service.

You may wish to refer carers to Moneysmart (COVID-19), which includes advice for those struggling with home loan repayments.

Covid-19

Getting carers online

Many carers are getting online for the first time, or being required to use technology in a new way. There are numerous resources that can be accessed on how to best utilise technology and how to stay safe online.

If assisting carers and prospective carers to get online so they can participate in training, assessment, or other supervision, consider using the Be Connected website provided by the eSafety Commission. There are COVID-19 specific online safety tips for those who are older and online during social distancing.

Their topics range from the most basic (what is a computer, how to use email) to more complex uses such as apps. They also provide opportunities to practice that can be shared and walked through. Topics can be found here.

The eSafety Commissioner is also hosting free webinar presentations to help older Australians stay safer online. These require bookings and cover a host of topics including scam spotting and shopping online, as well as staying safe online – COVID-19 edition. Bookings and information can be found here.

Keeping children and young people safe online needs to be age appropriate and clear. This should be a joint conversation with their carer and potentially care team if there have been concerns around internet safety.

Carers may find it useful to consider:

Covid-19

Resources to support children and young people

It is important to talk to children and young people about COVID-19 to make them feel secure and empowered during very uncertain times. This may be embedded into case work or support sessions with the children and young people you work with. It can be a difficult conversation, here are some tips you may find useful:

  • Set the emotional tone: if you sound panicked while talking about it, they may panic too.
  • Take cues from your child. You can start the conversation by asking what they know about the situation. Give them the opportunity to ask any questions they have.
  • Use age-appropriate facts from reliable sources such as government departments.
  • Don’t give them too much information all at once, it can be overwhelming. Provide them with the basic facts and answer any follow-up questions they have honestly. If you don’t know the answer, look it up. Show your children that it is a good idea to check what they are hearing through their friends and media.
  • Be reassuring but truthful. Tell them about the measures being put in place to slow the spread and let them know that young people and children usually experience milder symptoms.
  • Help them feel empowered by teaching them good hygiene and social distancing techniques.
  • Be aware of how you talk about the outbreak when young people are present. Remain positive and prevention-focused within earshot.

raisingchildren.net.au has created extensive resources about how to talk to young people about COVID-19, and how to navigate isolation and social distancing with children, teenagers, and young people with a disability, autism and other conditions.

Resources for talking to children about COVID-19:

Advocate for Children and Young People have curated this collection of activities and resources to keep families busy and engaged during isolation. 

Virtual activity list from Youth Services NT.

Level Playground have a collection of ideas for learning and playing for all children. 

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Email

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