Taking Holidays with Young People
As the summer holidays get well underway, lots of our carers have plans to jet off abroad. After the uncertainty of the pandemic, for most this will be a long-awaited and well-deserved break. In this handy guide, we talk about some of the positives (as well as some challenges) of taking holidays with young people in your care.
Many children coming into care do not have a valid passport. Often, they have not had the opportunity to travel abroad before. If you are planning to take a child on holiday with you, the Local Authority for the child should be able to obtain a passport for them.
However, be aware that sometimes this might take longer than usual. This is because the passport application must be made by the child’s social worker. They need to gather all the documents needed, such as a birth certificate; these are sometimes not readily available.
We would strongly recommend waiting until the child’s passport arrives before booking a holiday abroad.
For a bit of fun, for younger children, why not make a ‘Teddy Passport’ for their favorite toy?
Oh, the excitement of waking up and going to the airport at 4am! Even waiting in line with suitcases and going through security adds to the sense of anticipation.
Remember that the child may feel overwhelmed, a mixture of excitement and uncertainty. Airports are noisy, busy, huge spaces and for a child who has difficulty regulating their emotions it could all be too much.
Plan ahead; maybe take a trip to the airport beforehand so they know what to expect. Prepare for the wait once there with something to engage them. Don’t ‘hype up’ too much, or you risk the child burning out before you’re even off the tarmac.
Don’t worry too much though; this is a fun and new experience to be shared with your child. If you’re relaxed, they will be too!
Hotel Rooms and Accommodation
All Foster Carers know that children who are looked after cannot usually share a bedroom with non-siblings. This can cause some issues when trying to book accommodation for your holiday.
For younger children, it is appropriate for a family room or suite to be booked. They should not be sharing a bed with anyone else in the group. It is also not appropriate for them to sleep on folding sofas in the lounge area.
Older children MAY be able to stay in an adjoining room to their carers.
You may expect that children find it harder to settle or sleep in a new environment; some may need extra reassurance that they are safe.
Before you book any accommodation, it’s a really good idea to discuss with your Supervising Social Worker and/or the child’s Social Worker the options you have. They will then produce a specific risk assessment which considers the sleeping arrangements among other things.
Safer Care on Holiday and Holiday Risk Assessments
Before you go away, a holiday risk assessment will need to be agreed. This should contain all the details of your holiday, flights, accommodation and so on.
Risk factors will be considered; is there a pool? Does your accommodation have a balcony? How will you manage and mitigate any unusual risks?
You will also need to consider how you will implement Safer Care. This is especially relevant where children are sharing a hotel room with Foster Carers. Think about where people will get dressed, and what is appropriate nightwear. Share these things with the young person in an age-appropriate way.
Remember that on holiday, most people are much more relaxed. It is important that Safer Care is given due consideration; it is there to protect both the child from harm and the Foster Carers from potential allegations.
We want you to have fun! We know that holidays are very different from life at home, so we will always try to work with you to make sure your time away is both safe and exciting for everyone!
We want you and your child to have the BEST time on holiday. The world is an exciting and amazing place, full of wonder and discovery. Whether you’re going on a beach holiday, an adventure holiday or even skiing, it is likely that the child in your care won’t have experienced some of these things.
Think about how they usually respond to new experiences; maybe show them online before you go, so they have a good idea of what to expect.
There will be new foods to try – encourage this! Children are often more willing to try new things when they are on holiday. This can help build their self-esteem and sense of independence. We guarantee that even if they don’t like it, they’ll feel proud for trying it. Give them lots of praise, this is a great chance to get them out their comfort zone!
It’s time to get that flight back to sunny(!) England. No doubt you will have had wonderful fun, but you’re also probably exhausted!
Like any other child, they won’t want the holiday to end! Going ‘back to reality’ can be difficult for some young people. Make sure you’re aware of this and give them time and space if they need it.
Holidays are also a fantastic chance to capture memories; souvenirs and photos to put in a scrap book back at home give a child a physical reminder of their time away. For children or young people who move on from your care, this will form part of their Life Story.
What if I have a holiday booked and a child comes to stay with me?
What if you’ve already got a holiday booked when a young person is placed with you? This should be taken into account during the matching process; if possible, the young person could join you on your holiday. However if this is not possible, then there will be a planned respite placement for them.
Make sure you let your Supervising Social Worker know if you are booking holidays between children being placed with you.
Can I book a holiday in term time?
As with any child, schools and Local Authorities will only approve holidays or days off during term time if the circumstances are exceptional. A normal holiday rarely falls under this category.
All children and young people travelling with their Foster Carers need to have a written letter of consent from the Local Authority. This needs to be shown at the airport.
If you book a holiday in term time without the express consent of the Local Authority, there is a very good chance they won’t provide you with the letter to travel. We would ALWAYS recommend seeking approval before booking any holidays.
You can call, text or WhatsApp Rachael on 07938 575 738; or send an email to: email@example.com. If you would prefer us to call you, please submit your details using the form below; and we’ll get back to you soon!