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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates

Please find below regular updates from Community Services #1 on COVID-19 in relation to our services and community.

Update to Community Services #1 during COVID-19 pandemic as at 14 July 2020

*PLEASE NOTE OUR VENUE HIRE IS STILL CLOSED AT THIS TIME*

Useful articles

Maintaining wellbeing when the world is topsy-turvy

Supporting children in times of crisis

We’re going on a bear hunt

A peek in teachers’ spell books: how to get through home school without the fight  

When it’s not all dancing and baking: supporting high school students during COVID-19 

The internet in isolation: Keeping your family cyber safe

Back to school, back to a new reality 

 

5 April 2020

Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the new child care payment under the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package?

Sessions of care are now free for all parents and carers. There will be no means testing and no activity test for the duration of the Relief Package.

  1. Am I considered a Family that needs to access care due to COVID-19?

Minister for Education, Dan Tehan advised on the 2 April 2020 that the childcare package is to ensure childcare services remain open to serve families that need to work and to support vulnerable children.

  1. Am I deemed an Essential Worker?

A person is deemed an Essential Worker if they are actively working during the COVID-19 situation. The government has not provided a definition of ‘essential worker’, but the Prime Minister has repeatedly stated that anyone with a job is currently considered an essential worker.

  1. Are Community Services #1 education and care services open?

At this time, the current Federal Government advice is for schools (which includes early learning services), to remain open, and this will be our approach up to and until official Government advice states otherwise.

As the changing nature of COVID-19 evolves, the safety of you children, and our staff remains our top priority. With increased measures to ensure, social distancing, sanitisation and hygiene, increased vigilance around cleaning, and most importantly education around COVID-19, please be assured that we have been preparing to act should the need arise. We will continue to maintain the precautionary measures outlined in previous correspondence.

  1. I have a current enrolment; do I need to do anything?

No, your current booking will continue. If you have previously notified the Centre that your child will be absent and this changes, please email your Service Director.

  1. What is the child care absence policy in this new child care package?

Absences will not be counted during the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package period (commencing 6 April 2020) as session reports will not be submitted.

  1. I cancelled my enrolment recently – can I reinstate it?

Please send an email to your Service Director and we will be in touch as soon as we can about this. We will do our best to offer you the previous days that you had but cannot guarantee this at this time.

  1. If I re-start my child’s enrolment, does that mean I have to start sending them back?  

No, you don’t have to send them back. Keeping your children at home if you can is ok to do so. If you intend to use childcare in the future, then it’s a good idea to re-enrol them now. It will effectively hold your child’s place at the centre and you will not have to pay a gap fee.

  1. I am choosing to isolate my children and family at home as per the Australian Government recommendations and not attending the childcare service, what occurs with my fees?

As of 5 April 2020, there will be no cost to parents with existing enrolments if the child does not attend care.

  1. Can I increase my current enrolment from the 6 April 2020?

In the new child care system from Monday 6 April, Community Services #1, under the directive of the Australian Government, are now required to prioritise care to children of essential workers, vulnerable and disadvantaged children and children with existing enrolments.

At this stage we will not be taking any new enrolments or increasing any existing enrolments until we have further information. If you wish to send through a request for this, please contact your Service Director.

  1. If I have chosen to self-isolate and I am not deemed an essential worker can my child return to the service?

Families should continue to follow the Australian Governments recommendation to remain at home and to assist with reducing the COVID-19 curve. To assist with the management of the required Education and Care Services National Regulations, specifically the required staff to child ratios, all new enquiry requests are to be emailed to enrolments@communityservies1.org.  Our Children and Youth team will review the request and confirm the enrolment availability taking into account the Australian Government’s objectives relating to essential workers and vulnerable families.

  1. When will I know the outcome of my new booking enquiry?

As you can appreciate, we need to work through each family’s individual circumstances. The priority of enrolments will be for families that need to work being an Essential Worker and to support vulnerable children. We are unable to place a timeframe at this stage, as we continue to work with the Australian Government, our team and third-party software providers as we navigate this uncharted territory.

  1. If I am existing family what do I do right now?

If you are a family that needs to work and you have no alternate care options for your child or are a family in a vulnerable situation please continue to attend as per your existing enrolment. If you are a family that can continue to keep your children at home as per the Australian Government requirements we ask that you continue to do so and your current booking will be secure.

  1. If I obtain a new job or my current job requires me to increase my work commitments and I have no alternate care arrangements can I increase days?

Please contact enrolments@communityservices1.org so we can assist with your specific situation as per the Australian Government guidelines.

  1. What happens if I am on a payment plan for overdue fees?

If you are on a payment plan for overdue fees, the debt is still owed, and the payment plan will continue.

  1. Will immunisation requirements for children continue?

Yes. All Child Care Subsidy eligibility requirements will continue in place. This includes the requirement for children to meet the Childhood schedule on the Department of Health’s National Immunisation Program Schedule, be on a suitable catch up schedule in line with the Department of Health’s current Australian Immunisation Handbook, or have an approved medical exemption recorded on the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR). Children who do not meet the Child Care Subsidy immunisation requirements, or any other Child Care Subsidy eligibility requirement, cannot attend a child care service being supported by payments during the COVID-19 crisis.

Please note that this document is accurate at time of writing and may be subject to change. If you have any questions or need help, please contact your Centre Director who can follow up on your behalf.

Frequently Asked Questions – updated Thursday 26 March

  1. Are you still open for business?
  • As of Thursday 26 March, the majority of our services and programs remain open:
  • Early Education and Care (EEC): all five EEC Centres (Acacia, Binara, Birralee, Forrest and Narrabundah) remain open. For additional information, please phone 02 6126 4700.
  • Outside School Hours Care (OSHC): Mawson Outside School Hours Care remains open. For additional information, please phone 02 6189 1045 .
  • In-Home Care: we are still providing the majority of In-Home Care services, including personal care, domestic assistance, and shopping. For additional information, please phone 02 6126 4780.
  • Transport: we are still providing transport services. For additional information, please phone 02 6126 4780.
  • Food Pantry: the Food Pantry remains open as per normal hours of operation (Monday: 1.00pm-4.00pm; Wednesday: 10.00am-2.00pm; Thursday: 10.00am-4.00pm; Friday: 1.00pm-4.00pm). Please note that the number of people able access the Pantry, and the nearby waiting area, at any one time has been restricted. For additional information, please phone 02 6126 4710.
  • Social Support Groups: all Social Support Groups (including all Seniors Groups, Gym Group, Mixed Bag, Ukulele, and Yoga for Women) have been cancelled. Please note that Ukulele, Mixed bag and Yoga for Women are now available online. For additional information, please phone 02 6126 4710.
  • Venue Hire: venue hire for Griffith Neighbourhood Centre and Narrabundah Halls has been cancelled. Our Client Support Team will be in touch with anyone who holds a current booking to discuss alternative arrangements. For additional information, please phone 02 6126 4700.
  1. What are you doing to protect people who access your services and programs from the spread of COVID-19?
  • CS#1 has implemented a range of measures to assist with the protection of children, clients, staff, and volunteers from the spread of COVID-19.
  • These safety measures are based on information received from relevant Commonwealth and Territory agencies, and other regulatory bodies, and are reviewed daily by our Executive Team.
  • As of Thursday 26 March, key safety measures include:
  • All of our staff and volunteers are required to monitor their own health on a daily basis.
  • Any staff member or volunteer who is experiencing any of the common symptoms of COVID-19, or who meets any of the other Commonwealth criteria for being ‘at risk’, will be placed on mandatory leave and asked to contact the relevant health authorities.
  • Any member of the public (including children accessing EEC or OSHC programs) experiencing any of the common symptoms of COVID-19, or who meets any of the other Commonwealth criteria for being ‘at risk’, is prohibited from entering any CS#1 facility.
  • The number of people able to access CS#1 facilities at any one time has been restricted, so as to promote a safe distance between themselves and others.
  • All of our staff and volunteers are required to routinely wash their hands, and to use hand-sanitiser, which is available at our Head Office reception, in the foyer of all of our EEC and OSHC programs, and in all of our transport vehicles.
  • All of our Home Support and Regional Assessment staff have been provided with masks, gloves, and anti-bacterial gel, and undertake a Health Screening Questionnaire over the telephone with all clients prior to any home visit.
  • All external excursions from our EEC and OSHC programs have been cancelled, and no person other than a parent of a child attending an EEC and OSHC program (or program staff) is permitted to enter an EEC or OSHC facility.
  1. How long will you remain open for business?
  • We are in daily contact with relevant Commonwealth and Territory agencies, and other regulatory bodies, and we are basing our decisions with respect to what services and programs we can continue to safely operate based on their advice.
  • We are determined to continue to provide our services and programs for as long as it is safe to do so.
  • If we do need to close or change any of the programs or services we currently operate, we will let our clients know as soon as possible (either by telephone, email, Facebook, or on our COVID-19 updates web page). We will do our best to put alternative arrangements in place to continue to meet individual client needs.
  1. What should I do if I become sick?
  • Seek immediate medical assistance.
  • For general information on COVID-19, telephone the Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080. This line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • If you are a CS#1 client, or your child attends one of our EEC or OSHC programs, and you or your child are experiencing any of the common symptoms of COVID-19, or meet any of the other Commonwealth criteria for being ‘at risk’, you are prohibited from entering any CS#1 facilities.
  • We will, however, do our best to put alternative arrangements in place to continue to your individual needs. For additional information, please phone 02 6126 4700.

30 March 2020

Please find below our latest Community Support Services newsletter with updated COVID-19 information

Community Support Services newsletter

26 March 2020

Community Services #1 update – Early learning and COVID-19

Dear CS#1 families,

We appreciate your continued support as we work through the challenge of COVID-19. There’s no doubt that the last few weeks have been strange and uncertain for many of us. The coronavirus pandemic is forcing everyone into new daily routines and different lifestyles, but our educators have been working hard to ensure that children’s routines are still in place to provide security and a sense of belonging.

We wish to advise you of a number of things, including:

• All CS#1 early learning services are open and operating and continue to provide high quality education and care.

• School closures are impacting our own educators and their families and as such we are managing these situations as best we can to ensure we keep providing quality education and care to your children. We will update you if this impacts any of our operations.

• We understand that many families are unsure about their enrolment and what to do. The Australian Government has advised us to stay open as an essential service to families and the community and the current expert medical advice is that early education services remain open except where an individual service has been directed to be closed by health authorities.

• Please note that we, with other early learning providers are communicating and working together to understand the funding arrangements and we are aware of some changes, including that the number of days that a child is allowed to be absent without the need for evidence (such as a medical certificate) without losing the Child Care Subsidy has been increased from 42 to 62 days per year.

• In the event that services are directed to close, families will not be charged fees, but services will continue to receive Child Care Subsidy.

We anticipate that the Australian Government will announce additional measures this week to support families and we will communicate this to you. We will also assist you to understand your child’s access to care and fees. Please be advised that we are unable to hold any enrolments and cannot guarantee that spots will be available after the current situation has ended. Community Services #1 will be exploring additional options to redeploy our staff to offer alternative care arrangements and these will be offered to existing enrolled families first.

The safety and health of our children, staff and community is of the highest priority to us. We will continue to be vigilant in our hygiene standards, adhering to advice from local and federal health authorities. As I am sure you are aware, our wonderful educators have used this unusual time to inform and support the children to understand COVID-19 and implement hygiene practices through fun, educational activities.

If you choose to keep your child at home, fees will be charged as usual, but if you are withdrawing care completely we ask that you speak to your service Director as notice periods are required. Please do keep in mind though that the Australian Government will be announcing additional support for families, so it would be recommended that you wait to see what this includes to ensure that your situation is best supported.

If you have any questions about the Child Care Subsidy, please speak to your service Director. If any families who have recently ended their enrolment wish to reinstate it in light of this advice and changes, please email enrolments@communityservices1.org

For the latest COVID-19 information in relation to early learning please visit: https://www.dese.gov.au/news/coronavirus-covid-19

Thank you for your understanding and support – we value each and every family that chooses Community Services #1.

Yours

Amanda Tobler

CEO

 

Early education and care

Our priority is the safety and wellbeing of our staff and the children in our care. We are reassured by the current policies the Australian Government has put in place so that we can continue to provide

 

For the latest COVID-19 information, please refer to the Australian Department of Health and ACT Health.  

16 March 2020

𝐀 𝐌𝐄𝐒𝐒𝐀𝐆𝐄 𝐅𝐑𝐎𝐌 𝐂𝐎𝐌𝐌𝐔𝐍𝐈𝐓𝐘 𝐒𝐄𝐑𝐕𝐈𝐂𝐄𝐒’𝐒 #𝟏 𝐂𝐄𝐎:

Dear CS#1 clients, families and community,

In light of the uncertainty we all face with the outbreak of #COVID-19 (#Coronavirus), please find below an update on the steps we are taking as an agency to ensure we are planned for all scenarios. CS#1 is following the advice of the ACT Health Directorate and closely monitoring the situation to ensure that all the services we provide remain safe and are of the highest standard. The safety of our staff, clients and community is our highest priority.

𝐇𝐲𝐠𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐞

Health authorities have advised that maintaining good hygiene is critical and some simple precautions can reduce your chances of being infected or spreading COVID-19. Read the latest advice from the World Health Organization (WHO) here: https://www.who.int/…/novel-coronavirus-2…/advice-for-public

Our own precautions include:

· We have set up hand sanitisers at our Head Office reception and in the foyers of our early learning services
· All of our client transport vehicles have been provided with hand sanitizers and wipes
· Our Home support workers continue best practices in regards to personal care and have the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)
· We have supplies of gloves, antibacterial gel and other safety equipment and we will ensure staff are using these
· We will be implementing client screening questions for our Regional Assessment Service and Home Support Workers before our staff attend our client’s homes
· All of our staff will receive online training in understanding COVID-19.

𝐂𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐮𝐧𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧

We will be sending regular emails and newsletters to clients and families that use our services to keep them updated. You can follow us on social media for regular updates too.

𝐂𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐮𝐧𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐬 𝐟𝐢𝐫𝐬𝐭

While COVID-19 presents an enormous challenge for everyone, we assure you that Community Services #1 will take every step to offer a full service to you and protect the health and safety of our team at all times. We are actively working with health authorities to seek regular advice so we can prepare for any situation.

We advise people to follow the advice from the Government in relation to self-quarantining. Please follow the link below for further information.

In the coming weeks we will continue to be in contact with you as further information becomes available.

Yours

Amanda Tobler