Communities and Justice

Service delivery during COVID-19

Yes, residential services for children and young people are essential. This includes accommodation and support services.

We will work with you so you can remain open during this challenging time. We realise that this may require flexible and different approaches so that you can minimise risks to your staff and clients.

You should have contingency and preparation plans to ensure continuity of care.

It’s important to provide continuity of care for all children and young people in care. Especially for young people living in staffed residential homes.

You can find resources to help you with service continuity planning on the NCOSS website.

You will need to consider redeploying resources to ensure there is always capacity to manage the most critical activities. This includes during periods of staff illness. Critical activities include responding to:

  • safety issues and allegations in the residential dwelling
  • reportable conduct issues being followed up
  • young people who are away from the placement or have self-placed.

You will also need to consider how you will manage new referrals and placements.

Practising these simple measures recommended by NSW Health can significantly reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, and encourage young people to do the same.

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, or use a hand rub/sanitiser that is at least 60% alcohol.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue and immediately dispose of the tissue.
  • Avoid touching your face and avoid direct contact with others (e.g. shaking hands or hugging).
  • Routinely clean surfaces as follows:
  • Increase the amount of fresh air by opening windows or adjusting air conditioning.
  • You must stay at home unless you are going to:
    • work (where you can’t work remotely)
    • school or an educational institution
    • shop for food and essentials
    • get medical care or supplies
    • exercise.

See NSW COVID-19 rules for more information.

  • Buy more goods and services online where possible so you limit visits to shops.
  • Limit food handling and shared food in the workplace.
  • Promote the strictest hygiene among food preparation staff and their close contacts.

Practise social distancing (physical space from others), including:

  • use technology such as FaceTime, Skype or phone calls where possible
  • only have essential people attend meetings and hold them outside in the open air if possible
  • defer large face-to-face meetings
  • take lunch outside, but remaining within your property, rather than inside
  • limit the number of people in a vehicle
  • maintain a 1.5m distance from other people and avoid crowded places
  • avoid using common areas.

No, provided you follow NSW Health advice and take reasonable and practical steps to ensure the safety of workers.

Under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, you are required to do what is ‘reasonably practicable’ under the circumstances to ensure worker safety.

Being reasonably practicable includes showing that your organisation is compliant with the following WHS requirements:

  • policies
  • procedures
  • risk assessments
  • conducting training
  • circulating communications
  • keeping up with the latest advice.

Safe Work NSW has some guidance for employers as to what may constitute reasonable steps in the context of COVID-19.

If you need to discuss specific scenarios or seek support with work health and safety advice, please contact your DCJ contract manager or OOHC Recontracting.

You can find advice from the OCG on their website.

The OCG have advised that each agency is responsible for determining its own policy and procedures. This must be aligned with current health advice and in the best interests of the health and welfare of children, young people, carers, volunteers and staff.

Agencies are also responsible for effectively communicating these policies and procedures with all those affected in a timely manner. This includes when they evolve as advice from health authorities change.

For the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, general casework, monitoring placements and work health and safety requirements should incorporate the following:

  • apply current health advice
  • identify vulnerability
  • develop, communicate and implement strategies.

In addition, the OCG have given advice on the process to provisionally authorise staff to provide foster care in the event of an emergency arising from a COVID-19 outbreak. This is where the relevant staff member is known to all of the children and young people who they are providing direct care.

Please contact your contract manager or email if you have any questions specific to your service.

For general queries and questions about COVID-19, you can email

Most children and young people in residential care or ITC will have a Behaviour Support Plan or an Individualised Plan. These plans contain actions to strengthen positive behaviours and reduce behaviours of concern of the child or young person.

It is important that strategies in children and young people’s Behaviour Support Plans and Individualised Plans continue to be followed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Therapeutic Specialists and House Managers should also assess, review and plan for the individual needs, vulnerabilities and risks of each child and young person in relation to complying with COVID-19 requirements. They should update relevant documentation, including behaviour support and individual plans, and ensure that they communicate with children and young people and other staff about these plans. These plans should be reviewed regularly as the context changes.

Review the Behaviour Support in OOHC Guidelines (PDF , 892.8 KB)to help develop behaviour support plans. These guidelines provide advice on:

  • Providing positive behavioural support to children and young people, as well as carers
  • Developing, approving and implementing a behaviour support plan
  • Restrictive practices, psychotropic medication and physical restraint
  • Prohibited practices.
Last updated:

23 Aug 2022