The summer is approaching and for many a trip to the hairdressers or a passing conversation with friends while shopping will always see the phrase “Are you going on holiday this year?” pop up.
For foster carers though, it is a bit more difficult than booking a last minute deal and packing your suitcase. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it, you might just need to take a few extra steps.
The benefits of holidays can numerous for children and young people in foster care. Going on holiday together can make young people really feel part of the family. Getting their ideas of where they would like to go or what activities they would like to try would also be a great idea to make them really feel part of the process. This inclusion in family life can make a huge difference to children and really boost their self-esteem.
Going on holiday might be a new experience for some children and it can gives carers opportunity to build lasting memories which you can include in life story books. Experiencing new places, food and people can be very exciting for young people, which in turn is rewarding for carers!
Many children see going on holiday as a ‘normal’ family experience and having something to tell their friends about when they return can make children feel equal amongst their peers.
UK or Overseas?
Short breaks in the UK can be a good introduction to holidays for children in foster care. The surroundings won’t be too unfamiliar and it also gives you the confidence that your social workers and support network is not far away. Short breaks also give you the opportunity to test the water and see what aspects of the holiday the young people liked and what they were less comfortable with. Some young people may be fearful of going on a plane or be anxious at the unknown; taking a break in the UK might help reassure them, allowing a more relaxed break.
Holidays abroad have additional benefits of new cultures and experiences (and in some cases improved weather!). It is worth considering whether initially, this may take some children or young people too far out of their comfort zone, you also will not have the backup of your supervising social worker if any issues arise. Some of our young people have enjoyed visits to the airport in the run-up to the holiday to see where they will check in, weigh their bag etc. This can be really useful for more anxious children or those with additional needs.
Factors to consider
There may be specific reasons that you cannot take some children away, but this should have been communicated at the start of the placement. You will have to gain permission from the child’s Social Worker to take them away and may even need a letter to take to the airport.
On the whole, Social Workers are supportive of carers taking children on holiday and will offer any help or guidance you may need.
Passports for fostered children can be more difficult to obtain, the official government website states that “You must contact the Passport Adviceline if you want a passport for a child who’s in care. This includes a child you’re fostering.” Full details can be found using this link: https://www.gov.uk/get-a-child-passport/adopted-fostered-children
It is also worth considering what type of accommodation you will need as you may have to provide a separate room just like at home, although it is worth checking this with your social worker who will be able to advise. Your Supervising Social Worker will complete a special Safe Care agreement with you to ensure everyone stays safe when away.
If you do decide to take the plunge and head on holiday, we hope this post has given you some insights, but please double check with your supervising social worker that everything is in place.
If you feel going on holiday might be too much this year, keep your eye on our Facebook and Twitter pages as we often share information on great days out in the local area, some of which are free.