Holidays are a natural part of family life and taking foster children with you is encouraged as it can be a way to build trust and bond relationships further as an inclusive member of the family. Holidays can offer foster children the opportunity to experience things they may never have otherwise, new cultures, foods, lifestyles, diets and activities abroad.
This not only broadens children’s horizons but motivates them to embrace diversity and appreciate how people from different backgrounds live their lives. Holidays can educate, as well as be enjoyed by the whole family unit and supports the foster child in their social, emotional, psychological and personal development.
Holiday permission: rules and regulations
As laid out in the Government’s Fostering Services: National Minimum Standards: “Children can stay overnight, holiday with friends, or friends and relatives of their foster carer, or go on school trips, subject to requirements of the care/placement plan, if foster carers consider it appropriate in individual circumstances. DBS checks are not normally sought as a precondition.”
This means that as long as the child’s individual circumstances are taken into account and their welfare and safety considered paramount, in most cases foster children are able to go on holiday. However, if your foster child is going on holiday without you, arrangements should be approved and agreed by the child’s social worker and your supervising social worker. Holidays abroad however need more preparation, planning and local authority consent.
If you are thinking of taking your children with you on holiday here’s a quick checklist:
- Do you have delegated authority to do so?
- Is there an agreement in place between the social workers and yourself to allow the holiday?
- Have you notified the child’s social worker exactly when and where you will be going?
- Are room-sharing arrangements clear and acceptable, taking into account your foster child’s background and history?
- Are any vaccinations required and if so permission obtained from the relevant professionals? Local Authority Social Worker, Supervising Social Worker, birth parents where appropriate.
- Have you obtained a letter of consent from the social worker for passport control as this will be expected when taking a foster child abroad.
- For holidays abroad bear in mind travel insurance should cover the whole family including your foster children. Take a European Health Insurance card for every traveller if going to the EU.
- Are there any issues to consider when planning/ preparing for the holiday for example an autistic child may be more impacted by the change of scenery, sleeping arrangements and daily routine than other children.
- Ensure you take with you any medication, creams, comfort toys, and contact numbers for your social worker and the Emergency Duty Team in case of out of hour’s issues.
- Most importantly of all – enjoy your holiday!
Effectively holidays with foster children are about being inclusive not exclusive. You are building precious memories and can save photos for the child’s life story book including any souvenirs’ purchased. Holidays promote adaptability and self confidence in children but bear in mind any specific requirements for your foster child as for some too much change can cause behavioural challenges, it’s about knowing the limits of your foster children and working with them to plan an enjoyable break for everyone.
If you need any more advice about taking foster children on holiday with you, or you have some questions you would like answered, please call Fosterline on 0800 040 7675, Monday to Friday 9am-5pm. If you prefer you can request a call back here, or live chat from 10am till 3pm, Monday to Friday.