In a life threatening emergency dial Triple Zero (000)

In a life threatening emergency dial Triple Zero (000)
ACT Public Hospitals

Canberra Hospital

5124 0000


Calvary Hospital

6201 6111

Mental Health

Call Mental Health Triage on

1800 629 354

(free call except from mobiles or public phones) or

6205 1065

Poisons Hotline

For a poison emergency in Australia call

131126

Drug and Alcohol Help Line

The Drug and Alcohol Help Line is available 24-hours, 7 days a week on

5124 9977

Health Protection Service

For after hours urgent public health matters including environmental health, radiation safety, food poisoning and communicable disease management phone:

(02) 6205 1700

healthdirect

24 hour health advice

1800 022 222

ACT State Emergency Service

Emergency help
during flood or storms

132 500

Education and Childcare


In this section: Learn about supporting the child’s education including where they will go to school, childcare, and caring for a child who may need additional supports.

Overview

Education is a critical part of any child’s life, helping them develop the skills they will need throughout their life. Positive educational experiences provide learning opportunities, friendships, social interactions, structure and stability. However, for many children in care, their education has
likely been disrupted. CYPS and ACT Together work in partnership with education services to ensure no child is educationally disadvantaged by living in care.

In the ACT, all children must be in school until they complete their Year 10 Certificate and then participate in either training or education until they are 17 years old (unless they have a full-time job).

When a child enters care, CYPS will send a letter to the child’s principal to inform the school of the child’s change in circumstances, including that you have parental responsibility as their carer, who else may have parental responsibility, safety concerns and the role of the child’s parents in their
education.

It is recommended you also speak to relevant people at the child’s school like their teacher, year coordinator or principal about the change in circumstances and exchange any information about how the child is adjusting or discuss any concerns. Remember, as a carer, the specific details of the child’s history and why
they are in your care (including details of legal proceedings) must not be disclosed to the school, however sharing general information outlining your responsibility for the child and exchanging details about how the child is managing or adjusting is okay as this is in the child’s best
interests.

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Where does the child go to school?

Wherever possible, the child you care for will continue to go to their existing school. This helps provide some normalcy and familiarity for the child, like their friends, teachers, sporting activities and school environment. Sometimes though, a change of school and new opportunities is needed to help the child.

Any decision to change the child’s school, unless it is a planned transition (for example, from primary to high school), will be made in the best interests of the child and involve an assessment that takes into account the views and wishes of the child, you, the child’s parents, as well as travelling distances and social connections.

If a new school is needed, the child will be enrolled in an ACT Government school, except under exceptional circumstances. Requests for transfer from a government school to a private or independent school will generally not be considered if the child is on an order of two years or less, or if restoration to their birth family is the goal of their Care Plan. A non-government school will only be considered if it can be demonstrated that no government school can meet the child's specific needs, the siblings attend the school and the decision to not place the child in a private or independent school would seriously undermine the stability of the child’s living arrangement with you.

If you are required to enrol the child in a new school, your case manager will ensure you have all the necessary information, such as the child’s birth certificate and immunisation history. If these are not yet available when the child comes into your care, your case manager can assist with a letter to the school. Your case manager will also inform the school of any additional needs, if any, the child has that may require educational adjustments.

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Educational needs

The child’s plans will include matters concerning their education, including their educational history, needs and how you can assist them. It is a good idea to check in with the child’s teachers from time to time to keep a track of the child’s progress educationally and socially. It is also important to attend any relevant meetings and parent teacher interviews.

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Individual Learning Plan

For some children who enter care, they continue at school without the need for any additional supports. For others, more attention is needed as they may have difficulties learning or adjusting to the changes in their life. For these children an Individual Learning Plan will be developed.

If this applies to the child you are caring for, their learning plan will be developed by their teachers in collaboration with the child, you and your case manager to assess, address and review the supports needed to help the child reach their educational goals. The plan will focus on learning goals that consider the child’s individual needs, teaching and learning environments, relationships, behaviours, roles and expectations. It is likely to identify adjustments required on a day-to-day basis and a plan for short-term and long-term goals.

Through the learning plan, the child’s teachers have a formal method to develop strategies to meet the child’s educational needs and goals in the school setting. The plan can be updated at any point in the child’s learning experience when new needs or adjustments are identified.

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Encourage and celebrate learning

Regardless of the age of the child, you have an important role in making learning a positive and valuable experience for the child. Ways you can do this include:

  • help the child get organised for all they need for school – uniforms, notes, lunches
  • be interested in what the child is learning at school – ask questions
  • meet the child’s teachers and school friends
  • go to parent-teacher interviews
  • know what is going on at school – read school newsletters and all correspondence
  • find ways to make learning fun – cooking and grocery shopping, counting skills, games, read stories
  • establish good study practices – provide a quiet place where the child can concentrate without distractions
  • ask about and check homework
  • praise the child’s efforts and always be encouraging.

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Education costs

Your fortnightly Carer Subsidy includes all ACT Government school and preschool costs, elective and subject costs, book stationery materials and equipment, school formals, school photos, excursions, camps and tutoring (see ‘Finance matters’).

Financial contributions to ACT Government schools are voluntary. It is CYPS policy not to pay voluntary contributions to schools. No child will be refused benefits or services if a contribution is not made.

It may also be possible for a school to provide financial support through reduced costs for activities such as excursions, swimming lessons and clothing. Contact the school to discuss.

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School photos

The child in your care should be included in class photos. Your Carer Subsidy includes the cost of purchasing school photos for the child. It is important to capture photos and memories of the child’s time at school to contribute to their life story and the annual review process.

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School events and achievements

It is important the child has opportunities to participate in school events and to capture this participation as well as their achievements, such as reports and certificates. If the school wishes to publish a photo of the child or publish something they have created, ensure the school does not identify the child as being in care. If you have any concerns, speak to your case manager.

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School reports

You will receive a report from the school that outlines the child’s progress – usually this take place at the end of each semester. School reports are a good tool to help you and your case manager understand how the child is going at school.

When you receive the report, discuss it with the child. When you do this you should:

  • be positive
  • focus on efforts not grades
  • remember every child is different
  • talk with the child about how they are feeling about school.

If you have concerns about the school report, or how the child is coping at school, talk to their teacher and your case manager.

Make sure to send a copy of the school report to your case manager and keep a copy at home with all the information you have about the child.

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School attendance

As a carer, we know you will do your best to make sure the child in your care is encouraged to and gets to school every day. Sometimes though, the child may find school challenging and will not want to be there – this is more common with teenage children.

There are often a number of reasons why a child may not want to go to school, or even refuse, and discovering the reason can be hard. Sometimes there are a number of factors involved. These can include the child’s worry about situations or activities they need to participate in, like a test, speech or sport, or it could be because of an issue with a friend or teacher.

It is important you talk to the child, and school if necessary, to see if you can identify what the reason is and work together to come up with an approach or an agreement for the child to attend school. Sometimes the school counsellor can be a good help too. If you are unsure, remember you can also always speak to your case manager.

If the child has an unexplained absence from school, the school will contact you to alert you that the child is not there and to make sure the child is safe.

If you do not know where the child is, discuss with the school an approach regarding how you may find them and contact your case manager to alert them.

If the child has ongoing problems with going to school, you will need to work with the child, school and your case manager to understand the issue and develop strategies to address them.

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Tutoring

If the child in your care is assessed as needing additional tutoring, it will be included in their Case Plan and tutoring costs would be covered.

Schools sometimes offer tutoring for students within their school. Speak with the child’s teacher about any tutoring options available.

The Migrant and Refugee Settlement Service delivers an after school studies program at various locations across the ACT that provides volunteer tutors for students aged 8 to 25 years old from non-English speaking backgrounds. For more information about this, contact the service by:

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Childcare

Depending on the child’s individual circumstances, childcare may be an option if it is in the child's best interests. In this context, childcare refers to centre-based day care, occasional care, family day care, before or after school care, and vacation care.

If the child attended childcare before they came into your care, it may be important for this to continue to help them maintain relationships and social networks. Childcare is not, however, appropriate for all children and must be discussed with your case manager.

If childcare is considered suitable, you are required to apply to Centrelink for the Child Care Subsidy to receive financial assistance to help cover the childcare costs. The amount you receive will depend on your circumstances. If you are a grandparent of the child you may also be eligible for Centrelink’s Additional Child Care Subsidy. CYPS or ACT Together may also reimburse a percentage of the out of pocket costs of childcare. See ‘Finance matters’ for more information.

If childcare is something you require, it is important to speak with your case manager to ensure it is appropriate for the child you are caring for. If it is decided childcare is to be used, you should speak with the childcare manager and key staff to explain:

  • the child’s care arrangement
  • who has authority to see and collect the child
  • any learning or medical concerns raised during the child’s therapeutic assessment – the staff may be able to assist the child’s development and work with relevant health professionals assisting the child, such as speech pathologists or physiotherapists
  • the child may refer to both their birth and care families.

As the child’s carer, it is your responsibility to be aware of the childcare centre’s policies and procedures and to follow them accordingly – such as costs and what you need to supply each day (for example, meals, nappies, hat).

Just as with any service the child is involved with, it is good to build a relationship with the childcare centre’s staff and share appropriate information that may help them care for the child.

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