A foster carer’s guide to holidays and trips

  • FosterWiki
  • Author:FosterWiki
  • Published:June 2023
  • Country: United Kingdom

Holidays

Holidays trips and outings

A foster carer’s guide to holidays and trips, what you need to know and do.

Introduction to holidays and trips, what you need to know and do

Holidays and trips like all things in fostering require planning from the whole team around the child. They involve permissions, PR, adherence to care plans, court orders, sections the child’s placed under, following policies, safeguarding, risk assessments, ensuring you have delegated authority and more.

This is a guide for foster carers to ensure they protect their role and their children by following procedure, something that is not always clear until after the event and sometimes things that go wrong can lead to allegations.

The key thing to holidays is to get everything rubber stamped as it were, don’t think ‘oh I’m sure that’s fine’ or second guess anything.

A big factor in going on holiday is Parental Responsibility (PR) you can read about that here and understand the impact it has on holiday decisions.

https://fosterwiki.com/wiki/parental-responsibility-pr/

So what must you do?

It’s important to remember that nothing changes because you are on holiday, you must still follow care plans and safeguarding procedures as you would at home.

  • Before you book the holiday inform your supervising social worker and the children’s social worker of your plans and get a preliminary green light, the last thing you want is to have paid for an expensive holiday and then find you can’t go.
  • Give a description of the holiday, where, when, details of likely activities, sleeping arrangements and who’s going.
  • Make sure the social workers do a risk assessment of your holiday, approve it and give you the right permissions in writing.
  • Check if you have an agreed and signed Delegated Authority Tool and what it allows you to make decisions on, if you don’t have one ask to get one written up.
  • Every child or young person must have their own bedrooms, there is no exception to this rule unless you have specific written permission from the child’s social worker and manager.
  • Children must not be taken on holiday during term time.
  • Even though it’s more for aboard it’s still good to have a letter from the local authority that the children are in your care.
  • If the child is accommodated with you under Section 20, then the social workers must obtain written content of the parents, or the person with parental responsibility (PR). The best thing here is for it, where possible, to be agreed at point of placement and written into the child’s placement plan/care plan.

    If the child is subject to a care order or interim care order the social workers/managers need permission of the person with PR, if a parent refuses consent this can be overridden by a manager as in care orders the local authority have the majority PR.

  • Any adults who will be sharing the holiday with you will most likely need a DBS check.
  • Understand your role in safeguarding children, ensure you have had training on safeguarding from your provider, if not, ask. Also see our FosterWiki introduction to safeguarding: https://fosterwiki.com/wiki/a-foster-carers-introduction-to-safeguarding/

Going abroad

Going abroad with looked after children includes all of the above and some more.

Passports can often be a very challenging issue for foster carers as it is not always straightforward.

Make sure you request the social work team apply for the child’s passport well in advance. Give the social workers plenty of time to obtain the passport for the child, and check they are processing it and it’s not stuck in someone’s in-tray.

  • Children or young people who are looked after should not be deprived of opportunities to go on holiday because of their looked after status, so passports should be processed in a timely manner by the local authority.
  • If the child is looked after under Section 20 then the local authority must obtain the consent of the parent or person with parental responsibility (PR), their signature will also be required on the passport application. If this person/s whereabouts are not known it’s the LA’s responsibility to inform the UK Passport Service saying they can not contact the person the passport office will give this consideration in issuing a passport.
  • If the person with parental responsibility choses not to sign the application the UK passport service will be unable to issue the passport.
  • If the child is the subject of a care order, consent of birth parents should still be sought, however, if they refuse the LA can over rule this.

Here is the government guide to obtaining passports for looked after children, however remember this is ultimately responsibility of the social workers not the foster carers, although foster carers often assist. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-notes-for-social-services-departmentswhen-applying-for-passports-on-behalf-of-looked-after-children

  • You need a letter from the local authority confirming the children are in your care as you may need this at customs or security.
  • Ensure you have adequate and appropriate travel insurance.
  • If you are traveling to Europe or Switzerland you can apply for a GHIC medical card.

https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/healthcare-abroad/apply-for-a-free-uk-global-healthinsurance-card-ghic/

Activities

Lower risk activities

The same things apply to activities, it’s always better to be safe than sorry in obtaining permissions.
Sometimes it’s very clear on Placement Plans, Care Plans and in Delegated Authority Tools, what you can and can’t do, but not always, so if in doubt check and get it in writing.

It is the social workers responsibility to get the appropriate permissions and consents, always give them plenty of time to do this.

Higher risk activities

Higher risk activities, thing for instance like riding, canoeing, rock climbing, skiing, need express permission whatever the child’s legal status.

Social workers and managers will require written confirmation that the activities are properly supervised, with all safeguarding in place and appropriately qualified instructors and leaders.

Risk assessments should be done, but this should not prevent the child or young people having the opportunity to participate as long as the activities and risks are properly managed.

School Trips

Again the same rules apply here and foster carers can not sign consent forms for all trips and activities outside of school unless they have permission. They may have delegated authority for certain trips but for many it will require consent from social services and the people who have parental responsibility.

A good Delegated Authority Tool should be in place so the foster carers can sign school consent forms, or the majority of them, so a child can have a normal experience as possible.

Here we hear from an experienced foster carer

Funding – The Power of Parenting charity.

Sometimes extra curricular actives, sports, trips or beneficial holidays need funding, the local authority where possible should fund looked after children to have equal opportunities.

However, where if you are unable to obtain funding and you feel your child or young person would really benefit FosterWiki have partnered up with POP (The Power of Parenting) who
may very well be able to help.

Here is the FosterWiki page with all the information on POP, any foster carer can apply: https://fosterwiki.com/wiki/power-of-parenting/

Foster carer’s comments

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