DCP is committed to working with our service providers to continue to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children and young people, carers, and staff.
The work that we do is essential and it is important that we are able to continue to deliver services.
In light of easing coronavirus restrictions, face-to-face family contact can now resume following a risk assessment by each child’s case manager on a case-by-case basis.
If DCP is facilitating face-to-face 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.
Where face-to-face contact is not assessed as being in the child’s best interests, alternative contact arrangements may continue. In these cases a new Contact Determination will need to be issued reflecting these arrangements.
Service providers know their own business best. We encourage you to plan for a potential decrease in staff availability due to illness, carer duties, isolation requirements or vulnerabilities that prevent staff from fulfilling their normal duties. Where possible, working from home is supported in order for service provision to continue. However, it is important to acknowledge that working from home will not always be possible due to the front line and essential nature of our work.
Working from home arrangements can also be used to support social distancing practices, helping to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Service providers should keep abreast of the latest official advice and have up-to-date business continuity plans.
Working with children checks (WWCC)
WWCC will continue. It is a legislative requirement for all staff employed in DCP and through our service providers to have a current WWCC. This requirement will not change.
If you urgently require a WWCC due to staff shortages, please contact the Department of Human Services.
DCP is considering psychological assessments within the context of potential staff shortages during this emergency period. As a last resort to manage workforce shortages, the Chief Executive can now assess the requirement for psychological assessments (for instance if this is the only barrier preventing you taking on board otherwise suitably-qualified staff). If you believe there is a need for this to occur, please contact your contract manager in the first instance.
In the meantime psychological assessments must continue for anyone working in a residential facility.
Some of our psychological assessment providers have modified their practices to observe social distancing which may include integration of web based practices as well as precautionary activities for necessary face-to-face interactions.
Please see our Psychological Assessment Service Provision page for contact information of approved DCP psychological assessment providers.
We have created a coronavirus page for family-based carers on the online carer platform. Please encourage carers in your network to check this page periodically for up-to-date advice, and follow the Department for Child Protection on Facebook.
Service providers should continue to be the first point of contact for carers concerned about the coronavirus or needing support. Please keep your carers up-to-date with the most recent advice and information.
You also have an important role in helping carers to remain calm and manage anxiety related to the coronavirus outbreak. SA Health has produced a fact sheet about managing the mental health impacts of coronavirus.
Matters concerning a child or young person in care should be referred to their case manager, as per current practice.
We know this will be a difficult time for carers. We will be seeking advice from our psychological and disability specialists about how we can bolster supports to help carers and children. This will be available soon.
Should agencies continue to visit carers at home?
With restrictions easing, carer support agencies can now resume face-to-face visits with carers, rather than using online methods. Hand hygiene and physical distancing practices should continue during these visits. Staff should never visit a carer, child or young person if they are feeling sick. It is also recommended that support workers call ahead, to make sure that everyone in the household is feeling well before visiting.
What if a carer doesn’t have a phone or email address?
Not all of our clients or carers have access to telephones or email, and so may not have access to the coronavirus resources on the online carer platform.
Service providers should continue to be the first point of contact for carers concerned about the coronavirus or needing support. You play an important role in keeping carers informed and helping them to remain calm and manage anxiety related to the coronavirus.
We will continue to publish information on our website, and encourage service providers to provide carers with hard copies of fact sheets or online information when needed. Make sure that any hard copy information is clearly date-stamped, as advice is changing frequently.
$200 once-off payment to support carers
To help family based carers to buy essential items including cleaning and hygiene products necessary to reduce the spread of coronavirus, the Department for Child Protection has provided carers with a one-off immediate $200 payment for each child or young person in their care.
This applies to carers who had a child placed with them by DCP as at 17 March 2020.
We will regularly review our approach to licensing in accordance with SA Health advice. DCP staff will take necessary precautions prior to inspections, such as making advanced contact with the facility before visiting.
Licensing of Children’s Residential Facilities, Foster Care Agencies and Kinship Care Agencies provide the standards to ensure that children and young people are protected from harm. Licensing is a legislative requirement under the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017 and this requirement will not change.
DCP has modified the licensing process for Children’s Residential Facilities in South Australia to comply with SA Health advice in response to COVID-19. This interim process reduces the need to undertake physical assessments where safe to do so, with an aim to support safe physical distancing practices. It is anticipated that this process will remain in place whilst a state of emergency has been declared by the South Australian Government.
We will provide more information about this soon. Please visit DCP’s licensing page for more information.
SA Health recommends that the frequency of cleaning is increased, particularly surfaces that are high contact such as door handles, light switches, lift buttons etc. In line with this advice, DCP is looking to increase the frequency of cleaning in offices and DCP-run facilities. Service providers should also consider this option as part of their coronavirus planning.
The Department of Health employer fact sheet contains some information about precautions when cleaning.
Will the department help agencies to source hygiene supplies?
There is work underway at a departmental and Commonwealth level to ensure in-demand goods are available and supply chains are maintained.
The department is currently working to identify suppliers suitable for bulk purchasing of goods such as toilet paper, hand sanitiser and cleaning products. The department is investigating the possibility of partnering with agencies to ensure supplies reach our children and carers. The sector will be kept updated as this work progresses.
Talk to your contract manager if this becomes an issue for your agency.
What is the best way to clean surfaces?
SA Health has produced a fact sheet about cleaning and disinfecting in the workplace. This includes information about general cleaning principles, routine cleaning and choosing disinfectant solutions.
Yes. The recruitment of carers and workers is essential to sustaining our workforce and care placements.
Where possible, people should be encouraged complete training via online methods.
The department will accept completion of online training for the following 3 mandatory training elements for the next 6 months (more information coming soon):
- Child Safe Environments – Through Their Eyes
Child and Family Focus SA (CAFFSA) can now offer both the full package and half day refresher package of this training via Virtual Classrooms. To register your interest, email email@example.com or call 0467 382 683.
- Safe Infant Care
- First Aid
It is more important than ever to maintain our carer workforce and continue to recruit new carers. We are streamlining processes so that resources can be used as efficiently as possible. The requirement for CARU to approve modifications to carer approval has been removed. Instead we will being introducing Carer Agreements between support agencies and carers so that the decisions about the care being provide will be made between the care and their support agency. There will be more information about this shortly.
We recognise that respite is a crucial component of placement stability. There is no current plan to stop respite placements.
We are taking proactive precautions to ensure respite placements can still continue safely. This includes case workers making advanced contact to make sure no one in either household is sick or has had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19. The department will continue to review respite placements moving forward.
Not at this stage, but DCP will follow the advice of SA Health and the Department of Health.
We are encouraging staff to minimise contact wherever possible. However, it is essential that we continue to respond to critical child protection matters to keep children and young people safe from harm. This will include investigation of child protection notifications, and will additionally include investigation of serious care concerns when they arise. Thus, some home visits will still occur. We are working with DCP staff and our partners on how to do this safely, including using protective equipment where needed.