The Foster Care Association provides essential services and will continue to do so through the COVID-19 pandemic. Our priority is the safety and wellbeing of everyone, including our staff, carers, families and vulnerable children they support. We will continue to provide support by adjusting our services while adhering to government restrictions and promote and protect the health and wellbeing of everyone we support. We will continue to keep you informed of the steps we are taking and what it means for you.

Please be assured that The Foster Care Association is here for you during this challenging time.  While we may have to do things a little differently to adhere to government restrictions, our Association remains open and you can continue to contact us by the normal channels: (08) 9242 4222 | 1800 497 101 |admin@fcawa.com.au.

On behalf of all carers, FCAWA has raised concerns regarding home schooling with the Department of Communities. The Department of Communities is taking these concerns very seriously and is working closely with Department of Education to address these matters.

We are so grateful and appreciative of the wonderful work you do and the immeasurable contribution you make to the lives of our country’s most vulnerable children and youth. 

Please note that the Association is currently offering 12 months free membership to ALL Departmental foster families if you register by the 31st July 2020. You will find more information in our membership section.

Message From Rachael Green, Acting Deputy Director Community Services, Department Of Communities

Please click on the download button below to see the latest correspondence from the Department of Communities.

Message From Colin Pettit, Commissioner For Children & Young People

Please click on the download button below to see the latest correspondence from the Commissioner For Children & Young People.

FCAWA Toolkit For Foster Carers

Please click on the download button below to access the Foster Carers Toolkit for suggestions, hints and resources for WA families providing foster care during COVID-19.

COVID-19 Time Capsule Activity For Kids

We are living in unprecedented times, with a once-in-a-one-hundred-year pandemic that has the world in its grip. Our lives are marked by major news events and we often feel transported back in time when we recall them years, or even decades, later.  One way to preserve our memories of this moment in time for posterity, is to make a time capsule. This is a fabulous activity to do with your kids that generations can enjoy in the years to come.

Free Webinar For Home Schooling Children with NOFASD

Join NOFASD Australia and experienced parents and carers for the first in a series of short webinars with practical tips and strategies for home schooling children with FASD. These are unprecedented times, and we haven’t all become teachers overnight. This webinar series will provide you with strategies to help support your child/ren’s learning whilst reminding us of our own self-care needs during this somewhat stressful time. Click here to register.

Caring For Children During COVID-19 – Frequently Asked Questions

This information is to help answer questions you may have regarding caring for children during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Please make sure you aware of and follow the relevant instructions from Australian Government, and follow the advice of the Department of Health.

 

How do I keep myself and my family safe during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Some children in care have vulnerabilities to COVID-19. It’s important that you get specific advice from their doctor or other health professional to keep them safe.

 

Will there be any changes to the services the Foster Care Association provides?

Many children, carers and families are likely to need more support from the Foster Care Association WA (FCAWA) during this time. Changes you notice may vary depending on the circumstances. Overall you will notice:

  • FCAWA staff will observe “social distancing”. This means we won’t shake hands or unnecessarily touch children or you. We will maintain a 1.5 metre distance from others and we will wash our hands regularly.
  • Our staff will stay home if they are feeling unwell. Another FCAWA staff member will be in touch with you if your usual contact person is unwell.

It is going to be difficult sometimes, but you are not alone. The wellbeing of children and young people is all our priority.

 

What does social distancing mean and should I and the children in my care do it?

Social distancing is a way of behaving at home and in the community to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus.

  • As of 30 March 2020, the Federal Government advised that everyone is to stay home unless you are: shopping for essentials, receiving medical care, exercising or travelling to work or education.
  • Public gatherings, excluding household members, have been reduced to a maximum of two people. This means you can be out as a family if you need to but only for essential outings.
  • Avoid unnecessary touching such as handshakes.
  • Keep 1.5 meters away from others when out and about and at home.
  • The advice on social distancing is from the Australian Government and it is important to keep up to date. A range of community facilities such as cinemas, cafes, play centers and libraries face restrictions or are closed.

For more information visit the Department of Health website:

 

What does self-isolation mean and should I and the children in my care do it?

Self-isolation means staying at home and avoiding contact with other people. You and children may need to do this for 14 days if you:

  1. Have recently returned from overseas.
  2. If you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
  3. If you, or anyone in your family at home, are being tested for COVID-19 and are awaiting results.

Follow medical advice and for more information visit the Department of Health website:  Self-isolation (self-quarantine) for coronavirus (COVID-19)

 

Is it OK to take children in care to playgrounds and public places?

No. Please avoid playgrounds and follow the guidelines issued by the government about other public spaces. Overall, the guidance is to stay home except for essential activities. We know how important it is to keep children and young people stimulated and active and we support your efforts to help children enjoy outdoor activity, play and exercise while following hygiene and social distancing practices.

Here are some questions to consider before making a decision to go out into the community:

  • Is the activity necessary?
  • Can the activity be conducted in line with social distancing and hygiene advice?
  • Is there an alternative activity, or way to the meet the objectives of this activity, without exposure to the community?
  • Have I been directed to self-isolate following exposure to/or positive test result for COVID-19?
  • Does the proposed outing present an undue risk to the young person in my care? e.g. Do they have high medical needs?

Also remember to exercise preventative measures when you are out and about such as regular hand washing and cleaning/disinfecting surfaces. For more information visit the Department of Health website:  Good hygiene for coronavirus (COVID-19)

 

Can children still see their birth families?

No.  In order to adhere to social distancing guidelines to prevent the transmission of COVID-19, no face to face contact for children in care with their birth families is permitted at this stage.  We recognise that it is very important for children to remain in contact with their families so alternative methods such as phone calls, FaceTime or the use of other technology will need to be adopted. Children may find this difficult and distressing, as may their families. It’s important to be empathic and supportive of this. Children need to experience continuity of relationships. For example, if they normally see their older sister once a month and this can’t happen, consider how to make sure they can talk on the phone or connect in other ways more often until they can see each other again.

 

If children have regular short break care / respite care can this continue?

Circumstances may vary from case to case so please check with Case Manager and communicate with the short break carer so you are consistent about social distancing and infection prevention. 

 

Can children have sleepovers with friends or go to birthday parties?

No – it is not likely to be safe to do this for a while. It is safer for everyone to avoid situations where infection is more likely to occur. This can be really tough for kids who are looking forward to parties, sleepovers and events! Reassurance and support will be needed.

 

I’m worried that I, or someone in my household, might have COVID-19. What do I do?

The first thing to do is seek medical advice. If you are eligible for testing (determined by government policy) then this should happen quickly so you or others can get the medical help you need. Contact your GP (by phone) in the first instance.  For immediate advice about COVID-19, call the 24/7 nurse-led Coronavirus Health Information Line Hotline on 1800 983 006.  If you are worried someone might have COVID-19 but cannot get access to testing, then all of you in the household may still need to self-isolate. Your GP and/or the 24/7 nurse-led Coronavirus Health Information Line can give you advice to follow.

 

I’m worried a child in my care might have COVID-19. What do I do?

The first thing to do is seek medical advice. If the child or anyone they have been in contact with is eligible for testing (determined by government policy) then this should happen quickly so everyone can get the medical help you need. Contact your GP (by phone) in the first instance. Make sure you and everyone in your household self isolates while you are waiting for test results or if you need to for other reasons. For example, if you are worried you might have COVID-19 but cannot get access to testing then all of you may still need to self-isolate. In circumstances where you cannot see your GP immediately you can call the 24/7 nurse-led Coronavirus Health Information Line Hotline on 1800 983 006.  Please let your Case Manager know as soon as you have contacted medical professionals or the Coronavirus Health Information Line so that you can be supported during this time.   If you are self-isolating as a result of exposure to COVID-19, we will use other ways to connect with you such as emails, phone calls and FaceTime until you are well.

 

We are in self-isolation at our house. What do I have to think about?

Your main priority, as always, is the wellbeing of the child or children in your care and yourself. If you are in self-isolation, then it is likely you are worried you have been exposed to COVID-19. If this is the case, then contact your GP to determine if testing is needed.  Please let your Case Manager know you are in self-isolation as soon as you can. 

 

What if someone in my home (including a child in care) actually gets COVID-19?

The first thing to do is ensure children and others have the medical care they need. Make sure others in the household also get tested and ask for help from your Case Manager as needed.

 

The child/children in my care are feeling anxious about what is happening, how do I best respond?

Some children are likely to find this time worrying and upsetting and children easily pick up cues from the environment and adults around them. Adults are likely to be feeling distracted and may be busy making plans.

Demonstrating that you are available for children and validating their feelings is critical. Help them to process their feelings and provide reassurance. It is likely that continuing your usual routines and rituals will help as well as maintaining contact with the people who are important to them. This will need to happen in other ways such as by phone or FaceTime.

There are ways for you to provide reassurance, security and nurture for the children in your care. Your calm presence is the greatest source of strength for children.  Spend time listening and talking to children. Ask children open questions that help them express how they are feeling. Communicate understanding by using reflective responses such as:

  • “I know you are worried about what is going on”.
  • “It is hard for you to be away from the people you care about”.

Provide information in a way that is age and developmentally appropriate for the children in your care.  Consciously make time away from social media and the news. Have a range of relationship-based activities on hand that bring joy and connection through fun, such as cooking together, playing board games. Investing time in doing things together is important. Children and young people need perspective and a secure base.

As much as possible, maintain your usual routines and important rituals that matter to the child, so that they have a predictable structure to the day.

 

What do I do if the children’s school or day care is closed?

If school or day care are closed, children and young people will need to stay home. Access any resources for home learning provided to you by the school/day care.

We are planning overseas travel. Can we still go?

No. The Australian Government have closed our borders. Only Australian citizens, residents and immediate family members can retun to Australia. Visit the Smartraveller website for up to date information on travel alerts.

If you or someone in your household has recently returned from overseas, they need to follow the advice for returned travellers on the Department of Health website.

We are planning interstate travel. Can we still go?

No.  All non-essential domestic travel must be avoided.  From the 5th April 2020 Western Australian borders will close.

We have a holiday planned at a destination within our state. Can we still go?

No.  All non-essential travel must be avoided.

The child in my care has complex medical needs. What do I need to think about?

Some children in care have vulnerabilities to COVID-19. It’s important that you get specific advice from their doctor or other health worker to keep them and you, safe. Letting your Case Manager know about any concerns and keeping them up to date will help them do all they can to support you.