As the school summer holidays approach, you may be thinking about booking activities and holidays for the children in your household. However, as a foster carer, you may have questions or concerns about what you can and can’t do in terms of holiday activities. Read our guide to fostering in the summer holidays.
Before planning anything, you may need to seek permissions from those that have parental responsibility for a child. Whilst foster carers are granted delegated authority, meaning they are able to make common everyday decisions for children, they do not have parental responsibility. Depending on a child’s age, legal status and care plan, parental responsibility can either fall with a local authority or a child’s parents. Your supervising social worker will be able to help and advise you about this.
Bear in mind that what you may have planned in your head may not be possible for some children or young people due to their care plan. However, with some adjustments, it may still be possible to organise some excursions that the young people in your household will enjoy and cherish.
Forward planning activities
Whatever you’re thinking of doing in the summer holidays, start planning it early. This will give you plenty of time to acquire any permissions needed should you be planning activities away from home. A young person’s care plan will help you decide on activities that will suit them. Talk to your supervising social worker first. The last thing you want to happen is to mention activities to young people, only to find out later that it will not be possible because of their care plan.
Once you know the parameters of what you can and can’t organise, involve the children in the planning stage if you can. Not only will this give them a voice, but it will make them feel appreciated and will generate a sense of belonging. It will also ensure that they are fully on board with the planned activities, and it could instigate some excitement too. Planning ahead will also give young people the time to adjust to potential changes of routines.
If you’re planning any residential activity for the child(ren), such as summer camps, this could require additional permissions and planning as they would effectively be out of your supervision. Consider booking an activity close by, or even staying in nearby accommodation. Not only will this provide a support network if needed, it may give children the piece of mind that a familiar face is not too far away.
Whilst planning activities with the young people in your household can be a positive and bonding experience, it is also important not to over plan everything. Children and young people in care could become quickly overwhelmed with a ridged timetable of events, particularly if they’re not used to it, or have a spectrum disorder such as ASD that could make sudden changes to routines problematic.
Taking children on holiday
Whether you’re thinking of travelling abroad or staying in the UK, there are a number of factors to bear in mind before you start to plan and book a trip away. Start by raising it with your supervising social worker. They will be able to advise and liaise with the young person’s social worker and local authority. The main points to consider are:
- Permissions from those with parental responsibility will be required. These permissions will also be essential if applying for passports, or if vaccinations are required.
- Is the accommodation you’re thinking of booking suitable for the young people you are thinking of taking with you? Does it meet their needs? Are there any potential safeguarding issues?
- You may need some form of identification with you to explain that you are the foster carer(s) of your accompanying children. Your supervising social worker will be able to advise here.
- If you’re taking out travel insurance, are the children also covered on this?
- Any time away from home could affect contact arrangements between the children and their parents, so checking with both parties beforehand will be necessary.
“We have taken our young people on several holidays. We informed the children’s social worker and shared with them the address of where we would be staying, how long we would be away and any additional contact details. The holidays have allowed the young people to have a shared experience with their peers. It also allowed them to share an experience with us as a family and something we could all do together.” – Beth, TACT Foster Carer.
Providing decompression space
There will be periods during the school holidays where you may not have anything planned for the children in your household. Whilst it may be tempting to fill every last moment with an activity, this may not suit all young people. The summer holidays are a long stretch, and the young people in your care may not be used to such extended periods in close proximity to other members of a household.
Make sure that you give them the space to decompress and be alone if they need to be. These periods will also mean that they are able to key in to familiar hobbies and activities and provide some continuity over the summer break.
If you’re taking young people on holiday with you, consider building in periods of calm if you can, to enable the young people to recharge. This could potentially prevent them from becoming overwhelmed. Bringing along familiar games or activities that they would normally engage with at home is also recommended.
Our holiday allowance
Here at TACT, we want to ensure that young people in your care are given the opportunity to take part in family holidays and other excursions. TACT provide a holiday allowance of £91 per week (for 13 weeks each year) for each young person in your care. This is paid in addition to the usual fostering allowance.
Read more about our fostering allowance.
Whatever you choose to do over the school summer holidays, you are helping young people to acquire positive memories by providing memorable experiences. With some forward planning and communication with both the young people in your household and with relevant professionals, you could provide the children in your care with activities and excursions that they will enjoy and cherish.
“We visited a caravan park, with lots of activities which suited all the children. We were self catering and I was able to prepare meals the young people enjoy therefore providing some continuity. Any water-based activity in the hot weather is well received and the young people really enjoy being in the water.” – Beth, TACT Foster Carer.