Education and child care
When a child first comes to live with you, decisions need to be made about the child’s schooling. Where possible, Territory Families tries to keep a child attending their usual school, but this is not always possible. The decision will depend on a number of things, such as how close the school is to your house, whether the child has siblings at the school, how long the child is likely to be living with you and the importance of the child remaining in familiar surroundings. The child's Case Manager provides the necessary information about setting a child up for school.
You play a big role in the child’s education, whether it’s getting them to and from school, or supporting teenagers to get their homework done on time. Many children in care have learning difficulties, so you play a vital role in helping them get the most out of their schooling. If you think the child could benefit from talking to a school guidance officer or a school counsellor, talk to the Case Manager. It’s also important to keep the child’s birth parents and family involved. The department needs to know about such things as:
- school reports - please ensure you pass school reports on to the child’s Case Manager, as the reports are important information for the department and the child’s parents.
- parent-teacher discussions - usually you would be the best person to go to these sessions, but it is important that the decision about who attends is made by the Case Manager. It may be important for the Case Manager or the child’s parents to go, depending on the situation. The child's Case Manager will discuss with you the best way to manage this.
If a child needs to change schools, the Case Manager needs to arrange this, as well as the transfer of school records from the previous school to the new school. The Case Manager will also give you a letter with the child’s name, date of birth and address to give to the school principal. This informs the school that you are the first point of contact for the child.
Permission forms for special school activities and excursions need to be signed by you, the Case Manager or the parent, depending on the type of decision or activity and the court order the child is under. For some activities, school assemblies and concerts, the ideal situation is when both you and the child’s parents attend together. However, this is not always possible due to the feelings the parents may have about the child being in care. Participation in school matters needs to be discussed with the Case Manager who will have contact with the parents.
Private school attendance
Decisions about a child in care attending a private school are made in consultation with the child’s family, and are part of developing the child’s case plan, which sets out the goals for the child. If a child is already in a private school, decisions need to be made about whether they continue to attend the school and who will pay.
Child care services
Child care services include long day care, vacation care, family day care and after school care. Quality child care can have a positive impact on a child’s development, language, social skills and behaviour. It can also make it possible for you to take a needed break, or to work, study or attend training. Carers may be able to get help with the cost of child care and require the Case Manager’s approval for the child to attend an approved child care service for a specified number of hours or days. Approval must be included in the child’s case plan.
For further information regarding the costs involved with child care, refer to the
Alternative Care Support Payments Quick Reference Guide: Who Pays?
Any child care or vacation care must be with a registered or accredited service. The Case Manager should discuss this with you to reach an agreement about who is responsible financially. The arrangements for care and payment of care should be documented in the Placement Agreement. The cost for these types of one-off activities or purchases can be covered by a separate discretionary payment. Talk with the Case Manager when such a payment is required, so the department can be consulted about the payment.
The Australian Government offers a range of payment and services to help with the costs of child care. For more information visit the Department of Human Services website to make enquiries about what child care assistance you may be able to get.
To locate a registered child care centre or provider in the Northern Territory visit https://www.mychild.gov.au/.