Impacts of COVID-19 on families
While COVID-19 has been first and foremost a health crisis, it has also produced an economic and job crisis, which has led to significant personal, financial and social stress for some families. Many parents and carers in our school communities may be facing hardships and challenges in one or more of the following areas:
- Fear of family members contracting coronavirus (this fear will likely be heightened for those parents/carers who work in frontline health services).
- Concern over supporting their own or family members’ mental health.
- Financial stress and uncertainty due to under- or unemployment.
- Feelings of social isolation.
- Heightened worry for family members who may be vulnerable (for example, parents and carers with elderly parents).
- Stress and conflict caused by the stay at home period (especially for families who have unstable/inadequate housing or where there is domestic and family violence).
- Increased caring responsibilities due to support services being cut off/decreased.
Helping parents and carers to support their families
If staff believe families need additional or more intensive advice and support, it is important to be able to point them in the right direction. Information is provided on the contacts for support page about how to access health services and other support during COVID-19. By pointing parents and carers in the right direction, you are supporting them to access the support that they need to keep their family safe and well through this crisis.
Keeping school communities connected
We know that schools provide an important sense of community for students and their families and that many parents and carers will be coming to school staff for advice and support. This can be overwhelming for school staff, who are working hard to teach and support to students, while also dealing with their own personal hardships during COVID-19.
While access to schools continues to be limited for parents and carers, all schools will be implementing creative and meaningful ways to continue to interact with and support families in their school communities.
Some examples include:
- Guidance officers and other support staff making themselves available to parents and carers and informing the school community how they can be contacted.
- Sharing information and stories on the school’s Facebook/social media pages, including examples of good news stories or support services available in the community.
- Continuing to provide families with school newsletters (virtually or in the mail) to ensure continuity of this important mode of communication.
- Emails home from the principal or school staff.
- Virtual meetings or check-ins with parents and carers from the principal or classroom teachers (where appropriate, viable and able to use Department of Education approved forms of communication).
Refer to the support for parents and carers page for a list of available supports for topics such as:
- primary and allied health services
- health advice
- mental health
- suicide prevention
- practical support
- financial and housing advice and support
- relationship, identity, and domestic and family violence support
- carer support.
Young carers: Who are they and how can we support them during COVID-19?
A young carer is a person under 25 years of age who provides support and care to a family member or a friend with disability, a mental health issue, an alcohol or other drug problem, chronic or terminal illness, or who is frail or cannot look after themselves. A young carer may be caring for their own child.
Due to social distancing measures in place to slow the spread of COVID-19, some support services available to carers may have had to change the way they provide assistance. In some instances, the support may have had to be temporarily limited or cease.
This may mean that some students have become a young carer for the first time or that students who were already young carers now have additional responsibilities.
It is important to check in with students and see how they are coping with their caring responsibilities. If a student needs additional support at this time, help them to access support at school or through the agencies listed in this resource.
Given that young carers may be caring for a loved one who has specific health needs, they may be particularly worried about them or someone in their family getting COVID-19. As the pandemic continues, it is essential that young carers know how to access health and medical advice and support.
Remind students that the best way to protect themselves and their family from COVID-19 is to practise good hygiene (e.g., washing your hands for 20 seconds) and follow the government’s guidelines.
For the latest information and advice about COVID-19 and how to stay safe, tell students to:
- visit Queensland Health’s coronavirus webpage
- call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) anytime for practical advice, including over the phone nurse assessments if you or someone in your family is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
For more general information on young carers and how schools can identify and support them, read the young carers schools factsheet (PDF, 339KB).
Download a factsheet version of this page.