Coronavirus is a respiratory illness with symptoms ranging from a mild cough to pneumonia. Some people recover easily, others may get sick very quickly. Good hygiene can prevent infection.
While coronavirus is of concern, most people displaying symptoms such as a fever, cough, sore throat or tiredness are likely suffering with a cold or other respiratory illness – not coronavirus.
There has so far been a low rate of coronavirus in children compared to the broader population. Children who have contracted coronavirus generally present with mild symptoms.
See the Department of Health website for information on:
- How is coronavirus spread?
- How can you help prevent the spread?
- Who needs to isolate?
- Who is most at risk?
- What do I do if I develop symptoms?
Translated coronavirus fact sheets are available in a wide range of languages.
The Department for Child Protection is following the medical advice issued by SA Health and the federal Department of Health. SA Health has produced a decision-making flow chart that outlines when and how to seek medical attention.
As a carer, you can consent to routine medical treatment for children in your care, such as visiting your GP (make sure you call in advance). See Who can say ok? for more information.
If you need to seek testing for the child in your care, take your foster and kinship carer ID card, along with your photo ID and the child or young person’s signed verification of a child in care card. As coronavirus testing is not routine medical treatment, you must also immediately notify the child’s case worker.
You should also notify your child’s case worker if any member of your household is diagnosed with the coronavirus.
Good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene is the best defence against viruses. Good hygiene includes:
- covering your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue
- disposing of tissues properly
- washing your hands often with soap and water, including before and after eating and after going to the toilet
- using alcohol-based hand sanitisers
- cleaning and disinfecting surfaces
- if you are sick, avoiding contact with others and staying more than 1.5 metres away from people.
For more information on what you can do to reduce the risk of getting sick or passing infections, see SA Health's keep well, keep connected page or the Department of Health’s protect yourself and others advice.
Social distancing is another way to stop or slow the spread of the virus.
- avoid handshaking and kissing
- regularly disinfect high touch surfaces such as tables, kitchen benches and doorknobs
- increase ventilation by opening windows or adjusting air conditioning
- visit public places sparingly such as shops, and buy goods and services online
- consider whether outings and travel, both individual and with family, are sensible and necessary.
- sanitise your hands wherever possible, including entering and leaving buildings
- use tap and pay rather than handling money
- try and travel at quiet times and try to avoid crowds
- public transport workers and taxi drivers should open vehicle windows where possible, and regularly clean and disinfect high touch surfaces.
Read the Department of Health's social distancing for coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for more information.
Visit the SA Covid-19 website for up-to-date information about current travel restrictions and self-isolation requirements.
Please talk to your child’s case worker immediately if you, a household member or a child in your care is planning or returning from overseas or interstate travel.
Talking to children in care about coronavirus
Visit this information page for more specific information about talking to children about coronavirus. This includes preparing yourself for the conversation and some resources to help you.
Activities for children and carers
Open Your World, the state's new wellbeing website, has a great range of activities for kids.
We've also created the following information sheets specifically for carers:
- The Activity ideas for children at home (PDF, 1.6 MB).
- Activities for Aboriginal children and young people (PDF, 536.3 KB), including links to teach traditional Aboriginal games, colouring-in pages, music, podcasts, story-telling videos and more
- Information for carers of children with a disability (PDF, 519.8 KB), containing a list of fun and engaging activities that you can do with children and young people at home. Where possible we have included resources which have been prepared specifically for children with disabilities and their carers.
In addition, Nature Play SA has produced an online guide to support families during social distancing and self-isolation.
Managing the impacts of coronavirus
Colby Pearce, a private Clinical Psychologist, has developed a handbook and a series of short videos for foster and kinship carers to help them to manage the impact of the current outbreak on the children and young people in their care and themselves. If you would like a copy of the handbook, please email DCPPsychologicalServicesPanel@sa.gov.au.
Changes to DCP practice
In light of easing restrictions, we have revisited our advice regarding family contact for children and young people in care.
Face-to-face contact can resume if it is considered to be in the best interests of the individual child or young person, following a risk assessment by each child’s case manager.
If face-to-face contact is in the child’s best interest, and if DCP is facilitating the contact, all people involved must agree to maintain social distancing wherever possible and practice hand hygiene before and during the contact. Contact will be limited to 2 adults (excluding any supervisors) and should ideally occur outside or somewhere large enough to support social distancing. Case workers or the supervising worker will ask health screening questions to protect everyone involved.
If family contact is not facilitated by the department, such as in some kinship care placements, this will look different. Please talk to the child or young person’s case worker about resuming contact in these circumstances.
Where face-to-face contact is not in the child’s best interests, we will look at continuing with alternative contact arrangements. This could include phone and video calls, recorded videos, photographs and emails/letters. In these cases a new Contact Determination will need to be issued reflecting these arrangements.
If you have any questions about family contact for the child or young person in your care, please contact their case worker.
With restrictions easing, your carer support worker can now visit you at home again rather than using virtual methods like video calls. Department for Child Protection staff may also visit you and the child or young person in your care.
They will never visit you if they are feeling sick. They might also call ahead to make sure that you and everyone else in your home is feeling well before visiting.
During home visits, please maintain physical distancing if you can. This means not shaking hands or hugging your visitor, and keeping 1.5 metres from each other where possible. Always practice good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene.
We understand that many families are feeling confused or concerned about sending children and young people to school.
The clear advice from the South Australian and Australian governments is that schools will remain open for children who need to attend, particularly those who are vulnerable (including children in care).
It is the department’s preference that children in care attend school where it is possible. This allows both you and the child in your care to have some normality and routine in a safe environment, and to maintain important relationships and connections.
If you are concerned about sending the child or young person in your care to school, or if you are receiving different advice from their school, please talk to the child’s case worker in the first instance.
Our Learning SA website
The Department for Education’s newly launched Our Learning SA website supports children to continue learning from home during social distancing. It includes advice on how to set up your home for learning, and age-targeted resources that complement their classroom education.
Learning Potential website
The Australian Government’s Learning Potential website provides practical guidance for carers to support a child’s learning and development at home using regular household objects and simple techniques.
ABC Education provides educational resources for primary and secondary school students that align to the school curriculum. This is complemented by televised weekday education programming for school aged children on ABC TV Education.
During the coronavirus young people have been spending more time online to stay connected, and have been helping other household members to do the same.
This is likely to continue to be part of life, which increases the chance of young people being exposed to negative online behaviours and inappropriate content. It is important that we help young people to navigate online environments safely, and encourage them to get support when they need it.
To help young people adjust to the ‘new normal’, the e-safety Commissioner has put together some advice about online safety and wellbeing. Their 6 tips include:
- stay connected with friends
- manage your mental health
- know how to deal with cyber bullying
- don’t fall for fake news
- balance your time online
- be cautious about online relationships.
Visit the e-safety Commissioner website for more details.
Looking after yourself
We know that the coronavirus is leading to increased stress and pressure for many families. It is important that you take care of your mental health during this time. Remember to talk to your carer support worker if you are struggling – they are here to help. If you think the child or young person in your care may need extra support, please talk to their case worker immediately.
The Open Your World website is full of great resources to support your physical, social, mental and community wellbeing during this time.
The Department of Health’s Head to Health COVID-19 Support page has information and resources to help look after your mental health during this difficult time. It includes information about how to maintain good mental health and how to access mental health services. This SA Health fact sheet also contains useful information and a list of service providers who can provide support.
Our carer fact sheet lists a number of ways carers can look after themselves at home (PDF, 677.9 KB) including arts and culture, relaxation and mindfulness, and movement and exercise.
Aboriginal carers and families
Aboriginal people and people living in remote communities are at greater risk of becoming seriously ill from the coronavirus, particularly Aboriginal people over 50 years old. During this time there are steps you can take to keep yourself safe and healthy. Please visit the Department of Health’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and remote communities for information on how to protect yourself and your community, and stay in touch during this period.
If you have concerns about your health that may impact your caring role, please talk to your support worker.
It is important during this time that Aboriginal children and young people remain connected to, and strong in, culture. The carer information sheet for Aboriginal children (PDF, 536.3 KB) includes links to teach traditional Aboriginal games, colouring-in pages, music, podcasts, story-telling videos and more. Please share this valuable resource with carers in your networks.
On Thursday 19 March 2020 the state government announced that family-based carers will receive a one-off $200 payment per child to buy essential cleaning and hygiene products to help slow the spread of coronavirus.
With the extra focus on cleaning hands thoroughly and often with soap and water, or alcohol-based sanitisers, we know this is an additional expense for our carers. In cases where children and young people, and carers, are required to self-isolate, we also understand there will be added costs for cleaning products and other household items.
Payments will be made through your standard carer payments. If you are a specialist carer, you will receive your payment through your non-government service provider.
This applies to carers who had a child placed with them by the department on 17 March 2020.
During the coronavirus, many carers accessed the Australian Government Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package, which gave children access to free early childhood education and care. This initiative provided important support for carers and helped to maintain placement stability during a difficult time.
This free child care initiative ends soon, with normal child care fees resuming on 13 July 2020.
What do you need to do?
Download our fact sheet (PDF, 612.9 KB) for details about what to do to continue accessing child care from 13 July 2020. In summary:
- If you previously accessed the Child Care Subsidy (CSS), it will automatically start again in most cases.
- If you did not previously get the CSS, you will need to take steps to make sure you aren’t charged for child care.
Do you care for a child or young person with an NDIS plan? If so, you can now access priority home grocery delivery from a number of Australia’s leading supermarkets.
This means that you can have your groceries delivered ahead of other members of the public, acknowledging the very high demand for home delivery at this time.
To access this service you will need a unique home delivery code which you can use on participating supermarket websites. If you haven’t received your unique code from the NDIS, please talk to your child’s case worker.
This initiative is part of national efforts to support the most vulnerable people in our community during the coronavirus outbreak. For more information, including a list of participating supermarkets, please visit the NDIS website.
If you need support as a carer, please contact your carer support worker in the first instance.