Holidays are part of family life, and in many cases you will find you are not only able to take foster children on holiday with you but are encouraged and supported to do so.
That’s because experiencing a ‘typical’ family holiday benefits children in a number of ways – it introduces them to new cultures and experiences, helps them to socialise, builds confidence in different circumstances. And, of course, it gives them notes to compare with school friends about how they’ve spent their six weeks off!
If you’re making holiday plans with your foster children, or contemplating fostering in the future and want to know whether it’s feasible to take foster children on holiday with you, here’s what you need to know…
1. 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, go on school trips, subject to requirements of the care/placement plan, if foster carers consider it appropriate in individual circumstances. CRB 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.
When a child is placed with you, you will usually be informed of any reason why they may not be able to go away and whether extra permissions will need to be sought from the local authority or birth parents for such trips.
In any case, it’s always wise to consult with your Supervising Social Worker if you are planning to book a family holiday. They’ll be able to offer specific advice and advise if extra paperwork is required for the trip, they will be able to help ensure it is provided in time.
2. Home or Abroad?
For some foster families, a holiday here in the UK is an ideal choice because it it doesn’t mean being too far out of reach of social workers or their fostering agency. For foster children who are going on holiday for the first time, a trip to the British seaside or countryside is a treat without being as much of a shock to the system as a trip abroad may perhaps be.
That being said, depending on individual circumstances, children can benefit from holidaying abroad and experiencing new cultures, foods, and activities and so long as you have the necessary paperwork and permissions, this is an option that is open to many foster families.
The suitability of accommodation is a concern for many foster parents planning family trips.
We always ask that foster families are able to provide foster children with a bedroom of their own at home. On holiday, not all children will be able to stay in shared family apartments – before you book, speak to your Supervising Social Worker who will be able to advise you on how best to approach choosing places to stay, and if appropriate help you complete a risk assessment.
4. Keeping Your Foster Child Safe and Confident
Your foster child’s personal safety parameters will also have an impact on the type of activities you choose to include in your holiday.
There will be lots of fun things you can do together but along with careful planning and consideration of suitable undertakings, little ones and even older children may need extra reassurance over the course of your holiday. For example, if travelling abroad children may need you to explain cultural norms they are not familiar with so that they feel more at ease.
5. Holiday Expenses
Holidays are an expensive event for any family and in recognition of this many fostering agencies increase the foster carer allowance over the school holidays, which can go some way to helping fund holiday fun. You may also be entitled to an additional payment should you choose to take your foster child with you on a family break, so check with your agency or local authority to be sure.
And just as a handy tip, don’t forget to check you’re all covered on your holiday insurance too, in case anyone falls ill while you’re away. You can compare insurance and learn more about what to keep in mind by visiting the Money Saving Expert website.
6. Holiday Alternatives
If you’re not able to take a holiday with your foster child for whatever reason, you can still make sure they have lots of fun this summer by planning some day trips.
Sharing holiday time with foster children can be very fulfilling but it’s also important to remember that when you work hard at any job you do need to take a break. With this in mind, you may want to consider seeking some respite foster care to allow yourself the opportunity to rest and recuperate too.