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Updated advice from DCYJMA about COVID special arrangements

The attention of PeakCare’s Members is drawn to the following announcements released today by the Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs (the department) about the following matters:

Family Contact

As you are aware, since early January 2022 family contact has been occurring mostly through phone and online means.  The department advises that it knows that for many this has been very disappointing and has had a considerable impact.

As we approach 90% full vaccination rates in Queensland and children over five years old now have access to the vaccine, the department advises that it is now resuming face-to-face contact visits where it is safe to do so.

Please see the latest message from the Chief Practitioner to parents and carers for further details.

Management of Close Contacts

The department advises that it knows many of you are struggling with COVID-19 impacts on your workforce. You may be aware the health directive for Isolation for Diagnosed Cases of COVID-19 and Management of Close Contacts Direction (No. 3) has been updated to assist critical industries. However, at this time the list of critical industries does not include child protection or community services.

The department advises that you are assured that it is continuing discussions with Queensland Health about the impacts on our workforce and continuity of service delivery. You will be kept posted.

Funding assistance for extraordinary COVID-19 related expenses

In response to the pandemic and to ensure appropriate compliance with preventative controls, Chief Health Officer Directions, and maintaining a safe environment for staff, visitors, and children and young people, the department recognises that organisations may be incurring extraordinary costs that are not covered within the scope of an Individual Flexibility Agreement (IFA) or their usual operating expenses and which would not be expected to be incurred during the usual course of delivering their services in a non-pandemic setting. Examples of extraordinary COVID-related costs include, but may not be limited to, expenses such as:

  • Specialist COVID-19 cleaning
  • Specialised Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Rapid Antigen Tests
  • Specialist dedicated resources engaged to provide COVID readiness and response activities
  • Health Practitioner appointments to undertake testing
  • Design, delivery and/or sourcing of COVID-19 specific training
  • Additional staffing required to cover rosters and maintain the stability of a direct care service.

Where these costs can be directly and legitimately evidenced as a COVID-related expense and are not included within the scope of an IFA or existing funding agreement, organisations can seek funding assistance from the department. The department anticipates that these costs will generally be incurred in residential care settings where face-to-face contact must be maintained.

If your organisation wishes to seek funding assistance for extraordinary COVID-19 related expenses incurred to date, and you have not done so already, please contact your nominated departmental Contract Officer to discuss and arrange the approach most suited to your organisation’s individual contract arrangements.

Residential Care Resources

The following resources have been reviewed and updated to ensure the most current information is available to you. These documents will shortly be uploaded to the department’s website.

  • COVID-19 Response Plan for Residential Non Family Based Care Service Providers:
    The Plan is intended to assist Non Family Based Care services to mobilise and effectively engage relevant partners in response to COVID-19. The document defines roles and responsibilities in the event of a confirmed case and provides details of actions for preparing and monitoring, responding to suspected and confirmed cases and transition to recovery.
  • COVID-19 QRG Resources for Residential Non Family Based Care Service Providers:
    This information provides hyperlinked resources and information tailored for Non Family Based Care Service providers. The links will direct providers to the most up to date Queensland Government information (without the stress of searching or navigating sites looking for it!) plus a few other helpful pages.
  • Residential care and COVID- 19: Living with COVID-19 Guidelines for Residential Non-Family Based Care Services.
    The revised Guidelines bring together a wide range of information from various sources into one document and support service providers to refine their service continuity planning and responses. The Guidelines are not intended to replace the existing Business Continuity Plans that service providers have in place to respond to their specific circumstances. Guidelines are subject to change to maintain currency of information and providers are encouraged to regularly review resources on our website for the most up to date information.

 

Support for Foster and Kinship Carers

The department extends its thanks for the continued and ongoing support of our foster and kinship carers during this challenging time. It is important we continue to reach out to ensure carer households have what they need and are prepared.

It is strongly encouraged that all carers consider the need to prepare a plan in the event their household is impacted by COVID-19.  In support of this work, the Queensland Government ‘COVID-Ready’ website has some useful resources for planning. This includes the COVID Care Plan for parents/carers and children. Agencies may find these resources useful to support individual care plans. These resources have been shared with the department’s child safety staff and it is important to continue to engage with local care teams to coordinate support where and when it is required.

As communities respond to increasing numbers of COVID cases, the department seeks to ensure that should any individuals in carer households need to isolate, fall ill or require hospitalisation, together with the department’s Child Safety staff, they and the children and young people in their care, will be assisted however possible. This might include practical assistance such as grocery assistance or transport.

Where alternate care arrangements need to be made, the department advises that there are a number of existing processes that can be used, such as respite or provisionally approving other adults known to the family to provide care in the carer’s home. The early consideration of household plans will support these discussions should they be required. The Dual Payment of Carer Allowance Directive for COVID-19 supports the approval of dual payment of carer allowance for all carers under the Emergent Respite Policy for as long as necessary as a result of COVID-19. In addition, the Carer Assessments during COVID-19 fact sheet is available to support contactless service delivery wherever possible.

The department passes on its hope that this information is of use and its support for the tremendous efforts underway to keep our children and young people safe and foster and kinship carers supported. If you have concerns about how COVID-19 is impacting your organisation or your clients, the department asks that you please contact your contract manager. For organisations delivering services to children in care, directly or indirectly, you are asked to please seek medical advice as appropriate if you become aware a child or an associated household member is exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms and to contact your Child Safety Office or Child Safety After Hours, as soon as possible.

If you have any comments, concerns or queries in relation to any of the information above, please contact Lindsay Wegener, Executive Director (lwegener@peakcare.org.au) or Tom Allsop, Principal Advisor (tallsop@peakcare.org.au)

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