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COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions – under 18

Written on April 2, 2020

The coronavirus has meant some pretty BIG changes for many people across the world and as a child or young person in care, you might have questions about whether anything will be different for you.

Below is a list of the most common questions CREATE has been asked by children and young people. Beneath each question is the best answer we can give at the moment. It’s important to remember that just like how every person is different, every situation is different! We are trying to update this information as much as possible at the moment so please stay tuned for more info!

 

If you’re finding things hard and need some support visit our COVID-19 update blog to find services that can help. If you’re looking for ideas of what you can do at home visit our Ideas to get you through being stuck at home blog post. If you want to know about CREATE’s advocacy priorities during this time, you can find them through this post.

 

The below information was information was last updated on 1/5/2020 – Check out our new Victorian, Tasmanian and Queensland FAQs.

Update from NSWDepartment of Communities and Justice COVID-19 information for residential care services.

 

For young people in care (Aged under 18)

 

“I am in foster care – what if happens if one or both of my carers gets sick with the Coronavirus? Will I stay here or go somewhere else?”

Your caseworker and organisations that help care for you have a backup plan if this happens. If you live with someone who has become sick with the Coronavirus, it is VERY UNLIKELY that you will be moved elsewhere. It will be important for you to stay where you are and not leave the house unless in an emergency.

 

“I am in foster care – what if happens if I get sick with Coronavirus? Will I stay here or go somewhere else?”

The first thing here is to remember is that the Coronavirus is pretty rare even though we are hearing a lot about it. Coronavirus is a sickness that can make us cough or have shortness of breath (like we’re out of breath after running for a long time). Many people who get Coronavirus also experience a fever, which is a word we use when people feel really hot or really cold for no reason. Some people have symptoms not that different from a cold, while others can get really unwell and may need to go to hospital (based on a description supplied by DCP in SA). If you are feeling sick you, talk to your carer or contact the Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 020 080.

The MOST IMPORTANT thing is that if you start to feel sick, tell your carer or caseworker! They will know what to do. If you are living independently then call this phone number 1800 020 080 and you will talk to an expert who can talk to you about how you are feeling and what to do next.

If you are in Western Australian, for more information go to https://healthywa.wa.gov.au/Articles/A_E/Coronavirus

If you are in the Northern Territory, for more information go to https://coronavirus.nt.gov.au/

If you are in South Australia, for more information go to https://www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/public+content/sa+health+internet/health+topics/health+topics+a+-+z/covid+2019/community/information+for+the+community+-+covid-19

If you are in New South Wales, for more information go to https://preview.nsw.gov.au/covid-19

If you are in Queensland, for more information go to https://www.qld.gov.au/health/conditions/health-alerts/coronavirus-covid-19

If you are in Victoria, for more information go to https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus

If you are in Tasmania, for more information go to –https://www.coronavirus.tas.gov.au/facts/about-coronaviruses-and-covid19

If you are in the ACT, for more information go to  https://www.covid19.act.gov.au/

 

 

“Will I be able to see my biological family including siblings?”

You can stay connected to people important to you that you don’t live with, if you usually get to see them, but the way you stay connected will have to change for the next little while. So that we can prevent the spread of Coronavirus your contact with family will change from meeting them in person to chatting on the phone or via FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, text or even good old fashioned letters in the post!

Talk to your caseworker about remote ways to have contact with your family through FaceTime or phone calls. If you need phone credit or access to data on your mobile home ask your carer or worker if they can help you top up your credit.

 

There are some differences between states and territories about family contact for children and young people in care during the Coronavirus;

  • In Western Australian all family contact will be moving to remote methods, such as phone calls or video chats (based on information from Department of Communities, 1/4/2020)
  • In South Australia, all family contact will be moving to remote methods, except for those children and young people who are very soon to be reunified with their family.
  • In Victoria, Queensland , the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania (based on information provided by the Tasmanian Department) face to face contact will be considered on a case by case basis, with MOST birth family contact to move to remote methods, and it MUST move to remote methods if either the birth family member or you are feeling sick and Coronavirus symptoms.

 

It is important that everyone in care, especially Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children and young people, can be connected to family, community and culture during this time. If this isn’t happening, it’s okay to complain. For information on where to complain, visit our Something’s not right, speak up page.

 

“I am in foster or kinship care- how can I access a laptop if we move to home schooling / remote education?”

The first step is to find out whether or not schools will be closed – talk to your carer and caseworker for the most up to date information.  In some states, schools will stay open for a range of different children in the community, including the children of emergency service workers and children/young people in care.

If it turns out you do need to do home school/school remotely then you should be given the stuff you need to do this; this could include a laptop and any other material you might need to do school work.  Talk to your carer or caseworker if there is something you need to do school from home.

 

“I am in residential care – will there be many changes at my house because of Coronavirus?”

One phrase you might start hearing quite a lot is ‘Social Distancing’. Social distancing means increasing physical space between you and other people. It is important to exercise social distancing because COVID-19 is most likely to spread by close contact with an infected person, or by contact with droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze. So, the more space between you and others, the harder it is for the virus to spread.

The need to do Social Distancing could mean some changes to what happens in your home. In Queensland and Victoria, the government has asked resi services to make sure that;

  • Everyone (young people, workers) will be discouraged from actions that involve contact with other people and/or their belongings – like sharing clothes or using another person’s phone.
  • There might be a roster introduced where different children/young people are allowed into common areas (i.e the living room) at different times so that everyone’s not close together all the time.

For the time being, transport and leaving the house more generally will only happen if it’s really needed – this means any regular activities you do (e.g sport, music etc) probably won’t be on – but remember this is only temporary! Some meetings with your support people will now need to happen via phone or video chat, not at the resi.

Department of Communities and Justice COVID-19 information for residential care services.

During this time it’s really important you have a mobile phone and credit to make sure you can contact your important people and still feel connected to them.

You should feel confident that the carers and workers in the house will know what to do if someone in the house is feeling sick and if it turns out they have Coronavirus.

 

For more information about social distancing watch the video below

 

“I am in residential care – What if I am worried I have Coronavirus?”

Coronavirus is a sickness that can make us cough or have shortness of breath (like we’re out of breath after running for a long time). Many people who get coronavirus also experience a fever, which is a word we use when people feel really hot or really cold for no reason. Some people have symptoms not that different from a cold, while others can get really unwell and may need to go to hospital (based on a description supplied by DCP in SA). The MOST IMPORTANT thing is that if you start to feel sick, tell one of the carers or workers in the house OR if you feel comfortable, tell a caseworker or other adult you can trust. They will know what to do and they will support you if you get sick – that is their job!

 

If needed, there might be some change to the physical layout of your house to make sure everyone stays healthy. If you do need to move from the resi because of health or safety worries for you or other children/young people in the resi, you should be told information about how and when the move will happen.

 

“I am in residential care – what if I have to self-isolate?”

This means staying home (and in your bedroom) as much as possible, but it doesn’t you will be locked in there or that you won’t be able to ever leave! You will be able to leave your room for food, for medical appointments and for emergencies. Residential care workers and medical staff like doctors will be there to support you.

During this time it’s really important you;

  • Still have access to any medication you have been taking regularly.
  • Have a list of important contact numbers for people such as your caseworker, counsellor/psychologist, Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800), friends and family you are close to
  • Have a mobile phone and credit to make sure you can contact your important people and still feel connected to them.
  • Have access to the internet and other materials that can give you something to do while you are in self-isolation.

 

Every resi is different so make sure you talk to the carers/workers in the house about what’s going on at yours.

 

“I am in residential care – What if one of my workers or someone else in the house has coronavirus symptoms?”

If one of the workers/carers in the house gets sick then they won’t be at the house until they recover (even if it’s just a cold). If it turns out they are sick with coronavirus they will have to self-isolate for 14 days and won’t be able to come back to the house until the doctor says they no longer have coronavirus.

 

If someone in the house has come into contact with someone else who has Coronavirus or is sick with Coronavirus themselves, then you need to talk to your carers and workers about what will happen.

 

In Victoria this is currently what’s happening:

  • If the person you live with is well but has come into close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus and follows all the required steps for self-isolation, then nobody else in the house is required to self-quarantine.
  • If the person you live with is in self-isolation because it is suspected they may have coronavirus, there is no need for others in the house to self-isolate unless the person becomes a confirmed case. At that point, all people in the household are regarded as having had close contact and are required to self-isolate.

 

In South Australia, the Department of Child Protection (DCP) says that if someone in a residential care home is diagnosed with Coronavirus, DCP and the residential care service will work closely with SA Health on what to do. This may include; contact tracing, isolation of staff, cleaning the facility, isolation of children and young people and safety measures for additional staff who enter the facility to care for the children.  Fore more information click here.

 

“Do I have to leave the resi or my foster/kinship home during COVID-19 when I turn 18?”

CREATE has asked all governments around Australia to tell us the answer to this as we are very concerned that young people may have to find accommodation and set up independent living at this challenging time.  The NSW, QLD, VIC, TAS, SA and NT governments have told us they are all committed to making sure young people transitioning from care get the support they need at this time

 

In Victoria the Department of Health and Human Services has committed funding to give young people turning 18 years old before December 2020 the option to remain with their kinship or foster Carer. Young people turning 18 can also transition to independent living arrangements with an allowance to cover costs associated with housing. Case work support will also be provided to these young people and their carers during this period.  For more information about what’s happening in Victoria you can go to this statement from the Victorian Premier.

 

For young people in residential care, because of legal issues around young people over 18 living with those under 18 in a residential home, you might not be able to stay where you are living but you should be receiving extra support during this time with finding a new place to live.

 

For some information about what’s happen with residential care and transitioning, please see this Department of Communities and Justice COVID-19 information for residential care services.

 

All states have very clearly stated that any extension of placements or living arrangements is voluntary for young people and carers.  The departments recognise the young person’s legal standing as an adult in that process and choice and rights they have

 

Contact your caseworker who will be able to talk to you about your situation and the help that is available to you, including the After Care service in your state: http://createyourfuture.org.au/after-care-services-across-australia/. You have a right to get the help you need to transition from care to adulthood – don’t be afraid to ask for it ! If you are not getting the help you need from your caseworker, ask to speak to their manager or someone else in their team, and if you are still not getting anywhere, head to this page.

 

“I am feeling really isolated what can I do?”

CREATE understands that this is a big problem for young people and we are encouraging you to connect with your friends, family, CREATE to chat and talk about how you are feeling. There is a lot of information and activities on YouTube and the internet, and lots of activities are scheduled for your state. More information on the exciting things CREATE is doing will be distributed to CYP soon.

For mental health support you can also contact:

 

“Will the Department close down?”

No the Department responsible for children and young people in care will not close down, it will continue to be there for you and your carers. Talk to your carers or workers, or if you want to contact your Department go to this page.

 

“Can I still see my caseworker?”

Yes you should still be having contact with them,  your worker will still make contact with you regularly. This might not be face to face for now unless essential, but can be over the phone, through SMS, emails or online video conferencing. You should know who your worker is. If you don’t know who this is, ask your carer or resi worker or call the numbers for your state on our Something’s not right, speak up page.

For young people in South Australia, Please see the below message from the Department of Child Protection (DCP):

 

Looking for information about what’s happening in your state?

 

Northern Territory

Information from Youth NT about Coronavirus: https://youth.nt.gov.au/

 

Tasmania

We’ve worked with the Tasmanian Government to make an FAQ specifically for Tasmanian children and young people.

 

Communities Tasmania information about Coronavirus: https://www.communities.tas.gov.au/coronavirus

Tasmanian Government Guide to Social Distancing –https://coronavirus.tas.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0034/86758/Guide_to_social_distancing_-_COVID-19_Fact_Sheet.PDF

New funding to support children and young people in care to have internet access and mobile technology for communication and home learning.https://www.coronavirus.tas.gov.au/stimulus-and-support/community/child-safety-technology-fund

 

New South Wales

Information from the Department of Communities and Justice (FACS) about Coronavirus https://coronavirus.dcj.nsw.gov.au/

Department of Communities and Justice COVID-19 information for residential care services.

Queensland

Information from the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women about Coronavirus https://www.csyw.qld.gov.au/news/novel-coronavirus

Information from the Office of Public Guardian (Community Visitors) about Coronavirus: https://www.publicguardian.qld.gov.au/about-us/news-and-information/opg-news/important-covid-19-update2

 

Victoria

Information from DHHS about Coronavirus: https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus

 

Information from the Commissioner for Children and Young People about Coronavirus: https://ccyp.vic.gov.au/news/commission-operations-during-the-coronavirus-shutdown/

 

South Australia

Information about Coronavirus from the Department of Child Protection : https://www.childprotection.sa.gov.au/service-providers/coronavirus-covid-19

Cash support for carers – childprotection.sa.gov.au/news/dcp-news/covid-19-one-off-cash-boost-for-our-foster-and-kinship-carers

 

Australian Capital Territory

Information from ACT Together about Coronavirus: https://www.acttogether.org.au/contact-us/news/

Information about support available from the ACT Human Rights Commisison: https://www.acttogether.org.au/contact-us/news/

 

Western Australia

Information from the Department of Communities, Child Protection and Family Support: https://www.dcp.wa.gov.au/ChildProtection/Pages/Ifyouareconcernedaboutachild.aspx

Information about current COVID-19 procedures for case managers: https://manuals.communities.wa.gov.au/CPM/SitePages/HomePage.aspx?Mobile=0

 

 

“What are my options if I can’t contact my case worker?”

If you are having trouble getting in contact with your caseworker it’s probably because they are extremely busy at the moment – if you can’t get through on the phone then try sending them a text if you have their mobile number, or send them an email.  If they you don’t get a response the first time you try then try again – if you still don’t get a response try to ask to speak to your caseworker’s manager or use the information on this page.

 

What does Coronavirus mean for CREATE?

 

There have been lots of changes lately with the Coronavirus pandemic; we need to stay at home more often and some people have lost their jobs because of the government changes to make sure Coronavirus doesn’t spread. All of the changes are about making sure people stay healthy but it doesn’t mean they are easy!  There will also be some changes at CREATE for the next little while, to keep our team and you safe.  We’re still here and wanting to hear what YOU think about the care system – we’ll still be advocating to decision makers on the issues YOU have told us about to make changes that are now even more important given the pressures Coronavirus puts on our community.

Here are some of the temporary changes at CREATE for the next little while:

  • CREATE’s activities and programs continue to be offered, however, they will be in different formats including us using Zoom, Skype and teleconferences.
  • CREATE is still running, however, to protect our staff many of our staff are working from home and most of our offices are unattended.
  • Some staff at the moment cannot work from home as we just don’t have enough resources, but we are ordering them, and are waiting for government advise to change how we deliver our services. Then most of our staff will all be working from home.
  • All birthday cards for clubCREATE members will be delivered electronically until further notice: this change is due to a shortage in available volunteer groups to do hand designed cards. If you are unsure of whether you have an email address registered with us and want to make sure you receive an e-card for your birthday, please email your name and email address to create@create.org.au. Welcome Packs to new clubCREATE members will still be distributed but may be delayed – this again is due to a shortage of volunteers.

 

How do I contact CREATE staff during this time?

Our State Coordinators around Australia are the best people to contact during this time. They will be working hard remotely from the office and will continue to support and advocate for young people. Here are the different email addresses and phone numbers to contact depending which state you are in:

ACT State Coordinator
Susan Pellegrino
act@create.org.au
0439 764 163

NSW State Coordinator
Mohita Kapoor
nsw@create.org.au
0432 670 443

NT State Coordinator
Rosalind Clarke
nt@create.org.au
0421 257 262

QLD State Coordinator
Rachael Donovan
qld@create.org.au
0402 441 621

TAS State Coordinator
Danni Ashton
tasmania@create.org.au
0491 204 363

SA State Coordinator
Amy Duke
sa@create.org.au
0434 020 905

VIC State Coordinator
Cathy Carnovale
victoria@create.org.au
0413 358 205

WA State Coordinator
Sarah Lewis
wa@create.org.au
0402 888 422

Can I still have my say about being in care?

Yes! During this time CREATE is continuing to do research projects with young people in different parts of Australia, hearing young people’s perspectives and experiences through telephone and online surveys. Got a view you’d like to share? Or a question during these uncertain times? Or a message of support for everyone in the CREATE community? Send us a message on social media or email create@create.org.au. We need your input now more than ever!

 

What’s going on with the clubCREATE magazines? Can I still enter clubCREATE magazine competitions?

The clubCREATE Magazines will continue to be produce once every three months and all our competitions are currently open, so if you have spare time at home why not getting work an entry for your chance to WIN!! Check out the magazines here:  https://create.org.au/news/magazines/