Going on holiday is one of life’s greatest joys. A trip to the British seaside or further afield is a wonderful way to bond and spend time together and provides a wealth of new experiences for any children in your care.
Can foster parents take their foster child on holiday? Absolutely! As long as the right arrangements have been put in place first, because there’s more to consider when taking foster children away than if you are taking your own children.
Becoming a foster parent enables you to give children experiences they might never have had. Holidays are packed with benefits, from stress relief to the fun of exploring new places, but there’s a lot to think about beforehand. So, here’s what you need to know about taking your foster child on holiday.
“I thoroughly enjoy fostering. I just can’t imagine doing anything else! For us it has also been about giving children new experiences and memories. Like their first time on an aeroplane, first time in the sea, we really go to town.”
Find out more about Linda and Derek who have been fostering for more than 25 years.
Permissions and legalities - getting it all right
Unlike taking yourself or your own children away, you can’t just book and go when it comes to foster child holidays. In most cases there’s no reason you can’t go on holiday, you’ll be made aware of any restrictions when a child comes into your care, but there’s still lots to think about before jetting off to your destination.
Your holiday admin checklist:
Check the legal order
Whichever legal order your foster child has - which will include who has parental responsibility for them - will determine the permissions you need to make sure that you can take them on holiday. Ask your supervising social worker if you’re unsure before booking.
Get permission from the child’s birth family and social services
The easiest way to make sure there are no restrictions on taking your foster child on holiday is to consult your supervising social worker. Additional permission from the child’s birth family might be needed and your social worker can help you to do that.
You might need to arrange a letter
A sensible precaution when travelling with foster children is to get a letter from the local authority your foster child falls under, so that you can quickly and easily show any travel authorities that you’re the child’s foster parents. This isn’t always needed, but can be really helpful.
Check everything before you book
Don’t make any assumptions when booking a holiday for you and your foster child. Check in with your supervising social worker to make sure there are no limitations, check in with your foster child to make sure they are feeling good about the holiday and then check you have all of your documentation in order. Then you’ll be ready to enjoy a brilliant holiday together.
Benefits of taking your foster child on holiday
You’ll know from past holidays just how good it feels to get away. When managed properly and with the right permissions, a holiday can help to increase confidence and be extremely beneficial to your foster child.
Going on holiday gives them:
New experiences - This might be the first time your foster child has been away on holiday. There will likely be lots of things they have never experienced before like getting on a plane, seeing the sea, or trying different foods.
Normalisation - Holidays can provide a sense of normality for the child in your care. By integrating your foster child into your usual life - holidays included - they will feel like a valued member of the family.
Relaxation - Playing in a pool, paddling in the sea, or reading their favourite book are all brilliant ways for you and your foster child to unwind. Their lives might previously have been chaotic, so some time away can really help their mental wellbeing.
Bonding and building trust - Spending time together in a holiday setting is a great way to build better attachment between your foster child and you and your family. Holidays mean quality time together without the usual home distractions like work and school.
Social integration - From the airport to group activities at a hotel, your holiday will be full of new people to meet. Your foster child will be able to develop their social skills as they interact with staff, make friends, and even experience different cultures.
Educational experiences - There’s lots to uncover in new destinations. Trips to museums, landmarks, and famous places can ignite curiosity, and provide a new way for your foster child to learn and interact with the world around them positively.
“Seeing the look on their faces as they experience new things, from getting on the plane to go, to sorting out their passports… It was amazing to watch them enjoy the things we take for granted.”
Lynne has been fostering with FCA since 1998, and loves taking her foster children on holiday.
Just as with any other holiday that you’ve been on, you need to be organised and consider any potential hurdles so that everything runs smoothly. Going on holiday with your foster child should be a fantastic experience
Stability is vital for children in care. Often their past experiences are turbulent, so when they arrive in your care, life should be calm, well managed and predictable.
Holidays fall outside of familiar territory, so try to maintain routine and familiarity as much as possible – take favourite toys, books and clothes to help keep them settled on your big adventure.
This might be your foster child’s first ever holiday, so there will likely be a healthy mixture of nerves and excitement. Building excitement is important - this will be a great opportunity to make memories that will last a lifetime and really settle into your family.
There could also be long journeys, lots of waiting, and strange new experiences – so it’s important to communicate clearly and make sure your foster child understands that there are some boring parts to a holiday!
Don’t let holiday excitement get in the way of preparing all of the sensible bits before you go on holiday.
Passports - Remember to pack the passports! You’ll also need to allow lots of time to process new passports if your foster child is getting one for the first time.
Health and safety - Some places will have safety warnings. Make sure you check the government website for advice on travelling abroad and any local tourism points for up-to-date info.
Contact arrangements - Communication is key. Chatting with your supervising social worker before you go away is really important, to ensure that any changes to contact are made and everyone is fully informed of what is going on.
Vaccinations - Double check if your destination suggests or requires vaccinations. Typically this is for more exotic getaways, but you don’t want to be caught short or risk anyone’s health and safety while away.
Medicine - To avoid your holiday being ruined by illness or a communication barrier in overseas pharmacies, make sure to take a first aid kit as well as all the usuals – like Calpol, Savlon, and plenty of plasters.
Financial considerations of going on holiday
Fostering is an amazing vocation which allows you to make a real difference to the children and young people in your care every day. As a foster parent with FCA you receive a generous fostering allowance as well as foster care pay, so you’re able to take your foster child on holiday.
Finances shouldn’t get in the way of providing your foster child with incredible life experiences like day trips, theme parks, and holidays. We’ll never tell you how to spend your fostering allowance, so you can make the right decisions for your own foster child.
UK vs. abroad
Deciding on the right location for your holiday will depend on several factors, but you can have a brilliant holiday whether you choose to go – from the great British seaside to the Costa del Sol.
Why choose the UK?
There are lots of brilliant holiday ideas if you choose to stay in the UK. The Lake District or Cotswolds can provide a countryside fix if your foster child likes to wear their wellies, just as the South West coast offers home-made ice cream and swimming in the sea under the sun.
For some foster children, going abroad might be too overwhelming. Staying in the UK is a good way to build up to holidays further afield at a later date, while ensuring your social worker and fostering agency are still on-hand to provide any additional support you might need.
Why go abroad?
Holidaying overseas can provide foster children with a whole host of new experiences which are quite different from anything in the UK. Your foster child will be able to hear new languages, immerse themselves in different cultures, and feel weather conditions which aren’t the norm on home soil.
With the right support, permissions, and paperwork – there’s no reason your foster child can’t experience an amazing holiday abroad. Having a chat with your social worker, fostering agency and even asking your foster child their preference will help you to make the right decision for your family.
Support from FCA
With the incredible support of FCA, nothing should stop you from becoming a foster parent and transforming a child’s life. When you foster with us you’ll have 30 years of experience and dedication behind you plus support on a national and local scale.
We have a support network available to help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all year round, so there’s no reason that your foster child can’t start enjoying all that life has to offer, including holidays to exciting new places, whether at home or further afield.
“Everyone is great within FCA, we have a great Supervising Social Worker who visits regularly and is always at the end of the phone for any support or guidance. FCA offers great online advice and carer support groups where we can meet with other foster carers in the local area.”
Stephen and Kevin have been fostering with FCA since 2020.
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