About coronavirus

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.

Graphics showing good hygiene practices; sneezing into your elbow, putting used tissues in the bin, washing your hands, and wiping down surfaces

Hygiene

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

Social distancing is another way to stop or slow the spread of the virus.

At home:

  • 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.

In public:

  • 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.

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.

All people returning from overseas or interstate must self-isolate for 14 days.

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:

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 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.

In general, your carer support worker will not visit you at home during the coronavirus outbreak, as part of responsible social distancing practices.

However, contact between you and your support worker is still very important and should continue in other ways. This could be a video call or over the phone.

Department for Child Protection staff are also trying to minimise face-to-face contact wherever possible, but there may still be some circumstances where we will need to visit you at home.

Education

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

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.

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.

Additional support

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 this difficult time, child care and other daytime activities can support your health and wellbeing, and the stability of your child’s placement.

The Australian Government has announced that children are now eligible for free early childhood education and care until 30 June 2020. The initiative prioritises vulnerable and disadvantaged children, which includes children in care.

If your child is currently accessing child care

If your child is already in child care, you will continue to receive this service for free. However, you may notice a small change to your child care statement. This is because the free child care initiative will override the Child Care Subsidy and the Additional Child Care Subsidy that would usually appear on your statement.

If you have recently taken your child out of childcare, you will be prioritised if you want them to return and there will be no gap fee for returning.

If your child is not accessing child care

Please talk to your child’s case worker first if you would like to explore new or additional child care arrangements. This may be a good option to support your health and wellbeing during the coronavirus outbreak.

Where there is a vacancy, child care centres will prioritise your enrolment and allow you to enrol for free. Visit Child Care Finder to find a centre near you.

Remember that the free child care initiative ends on 30 June 2020. If you want child care arrangements to continue after this time, you will need to apply for the Child Care Subsidy through Centrelink. The child care provider can then apply for the Additional Child Care Subsidy to cover any gap payments.

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.

Need support?

If you need support as a carer, please contact your carer support worker in the first instance.