Holidays and School Trips In and Outside the UK

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure applies to day trips and holidays within and outside the UK for all Children Looked After.

RELATED CHAPTERS

For general procedures in relation to Activities and Transporting see Activities and Transporting Children Procedures.

PERMISSIONS

For a summary of the permissions and forms that must be completed in relation to this chapter, please see the Permissions List.

AMENDMENT

In July 2021, this guidance was reviewed and updated throughout. Section 7, Insurance Cover was updated to include details of how to apply for a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) which provides access to reduced cost or free medical insurance in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland. Section 8.2 has also been updated to link to reissued Home Office guidance for Local Authorities Children’s Services Departments when Applying for Passports on Behalf of Children.

1. Holidays for Children Looked After in the UK

1.1 Holidays for Children Looked After within the UK

Arrangements for notifying and consulting the Social Worker about holiday plans should be agreed in the Care Plan or within the Delegated Authority.

Where there is a proposal for a Child Looked After to go on holiday or a school trip, the child's social worker must obtain full information about the holiday/trip. This will include:

  • Proposed dates;
  • Duration;
  • Address of holiday location/what type of holiday;
  • Insurance details;
  • The wishes and feelings of the child;
  • Who will be present on a family holiday e.g. names of other children and other adults;
  • If the holiday involves staying with friends or relatives, their names and addresses;
  • Emergency contacts;
  • Any risk assessments that may be required

The child's social worker will seek the views of the child and consent of the parent(s) or person(s) with Parental Responsibility, as soon as possible.

If there are two parents, for example, living separately, consideration should be given to:

  • Whether one or both parents should be asked;
  • What impact the consent of only one parent being asked will have on relationships between the child and/or the parents and/or with Children's Social Care. This should be discussed with the Team Manager and an accurate record of this discussion is to be placed on the child's file by the child's social worker.

If it is a group day trip or holiday, the Social Worker must be satisfied that adequate health and safety precautions are taken.

Where the social worker, parent(s) and staff/carer agree to the proposed holiday, the holiday can be approved and should be included in the child's file within detail records. Written consent must be obtained from the of the parent(s) or person(s) with Parental Responsibility.

A signed copy of the written consent of the parent(s) or person(s) with Parental Responsibility is to be placed on the child's file by the child's social worker.

For children who are in a long term placement and there is agreement with the Children's Services that the carers have Delegated Authority (see Policy for Delegation of Authority to Foster Carers and Residential Workers) depending upon the nature of the delegation agreed it may be the case that the carers are able to make decisions relating to holidays themselves. However, good practice should ensure that decisions by the carers are shared in a timely way with the Supporting Foster Care Social Worker and / or child's allocated practitioner.

Children must not be taken on holiday during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances that would be approved by the Head of School (see Consent for Absence from School Procedures).

1.2 UK Holidays for Children Looked After within the UK where the Parent(s) or Person(s) with Parental Responsibility Do(es) Not Consent to the Holiday

Where the parent(s) or person(s) with Parental Responsibility do not consent to the holiday as set out in Section 1.1, Holidays for Children Looked After within the UK, the child's social worker should consider whether the holiday should go ahead despite parental consent not being given. This should be discussed with the Practice Manager and an accurate record of this discussion is to be placed on the child's file by the child's social worker.

Written confirmation of the Practice Manager's decision, together with the reasons should be provided to the Parent(s) by the child's social worker.

It might be required for the Practice Manager and/or the child's social worker to seek legal advice. Legal advice is to be sought in any event if the child is subject to s20 of the Children Act 1989 and the parent(s) or person(s) with Parental Responsibility do not consent to the holiday.

Where the holiday will interrupt family time/contact arrangements between the child and parents, consideration should be given for additional contacts before and after the holiday.

An accurate record is to be placed on the child's file by the child's social worker.

2. Holidays for Children Looked After Outside the UK

2.1 Holidays for Children Looked After Outside the UK

Please ensure that the child has a valid passport prior to any travel arrangements being made. Where a holiday cannot proceed due to the child not having a valid passport, costs incurred will not be reimbursed.

Where the proposed holiday/time outside the UK exceeds the period of one month, an application must also be made to the appropriate Court for permission to allow the child to go abroad.

Arrangements for notifying and consulting the social worker about holiday plans should be agreed in the Delegated Responsibility.

Where there is a proposal for a Child Looked After to go on holiday or a school trip, the child's social worker must obtain full information about the holiday/trip. This will include:

  • Proposed dates;
  • Duration;
  • Address of holiday location/what type of holiday;
  • Insurance details;
  • The wishes and feelings of the child;
  • Who will be present on a family holiday e.g.: names of other children and other adults;
  • If the holiday involves staying with friends or relatives, their names and addresses;
  • Emergency contacts;
  • Any risk assessments that may be required.

The child's social worker will seek the views of the child and consent of the parent(s) or person(s) with Parental Responsibility, as soon as possible.

If there are two parents, for example, living separately, consideration should be given to:

  • Whether one or both parents should be asked;
  • What impact the consent of only one parent being asked will have on relationships between the child and/or the parents, and/or with Children's Social Care. This should be discussed with the Team Manager and an accurate record of this discussion is to be placed on the child's file by the child's social worker.

If it is a group holiday, the social worker must be satisfied that adequate health and safety precautions are taken.

A written document is to be produced by the child's social worker which should include:

  1. The name of the person(s) with whom the child is going on holiday and their relationship to the child;
  2. Holiday address;
  3. Dates of the holiday;
  4. The views of the child;
  5. The views of the parent(s) and their consent to the proposed holiday. Where the parental consent is not obtained, details should be recorded;
  6. Cost to the Council, if any. The necessary approval of expenditure should be attached.

An accurate record is to be placed on the child's file by the child's social worker. A signed copy of the written consent of the parent(s) or person(s) with Parental Responsibility is to be placed on the child's file by the child's social worker.

Children must not be taken on holiday during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances that would be approved by the Head of School (see Consent for Absence from School Procedure).

NOTE: If there are any issues such as the holiday destination experiencing political unrest, concern that the child may not return as planned or other circumstances which may place the child at risk, these should be highlighted to the social worker's Manager. A check should be undertaken through Foreign Office, Foreign Travel Advice and a balanced decision regarding the outcome made.

2.2 Holidays Outside the UK for Children Looked After within the UK where the Parent(s) or Person(s) with Parental Responsibility Consent to the Holiday

All details, including the written document as detailed in Section 2.1, Holidays for Children Looked After Outside the UK, are to be presented by the child's social worker to the Service Manager for a signature.

Once a signature of the Service Manager has been obtained, a copy of the document is to be provided to the carer(s) accompanying the child on the holiday. A copy is also to be placed on the child's file. Written consent must be obtained from the of the parent(s) or person(s) with Parental Responsibility.

2.3 Holidays Outside the UK for Children Looked After within the UK where the Parent(s) or Person(s) with Parental Responsibility do not Consent to the Holiday

Where consent the parent(s) or person(s) with Parental Responsibility do not consent to the holiday as set out in Section 2.1, Holidays for Children Looked After Outside the UK, the child's social worker should consider whether the holiday should go ahead despite parental consent not being given. This should be discussed with the Team Manager and Practice Manager an accurate record of this discussion is to be placed on the child's file by the child's social worker.

Written confirmation of the Practice Manager's decision, together with the reasons should be provided to the Parent(s) by the child's social worker.

It might be required for the Practice Manager and/or the child's social worker to seek legal advice. Legal advice is to be sought in any event if the child is subject to s20 of the Children Act 1989 and the parent(s) or person(s) with Parental Responsibility do not consent to the holiday.

All details, including the written document as detailed in Section 2.1, Holidays for Children Looked After Outside the UK, are to be presented by the child's social worker to the Service Manager for a signature.

Once a signature has been obtained, a copy of the document is to be provided to the carer(s) accompanying the child on the holiday. A copy is also to be placed on the child's file and should be included in the child's Placement Plan. Written consent must be obtained from the of the parent(s) or person(s) with Parental Responsibility.

Where the holiday will interrupt family time/contact arrangements between the child and parents, consideration should be given for additional contacts before and after the holiday.

An accurate record is to be placed on the child's file by the child's social worker.

3. Holidays for Children on Child Arrangements Orders

The procedure is the same (see Section 1, Holidays for Accommodated Children and Section 2, Holidays for Children Looked After Outside the UK), except that the written consent of every person with Parental Responsibility for the child is required, or else the leave of the Court before the child can be taken out of the country. The person in whose favour the Child Arrangements Order is made may take the child out of the country for a period of less than one month without the above consent or leave of the Court.

4. Holidays with/to Families and Friends

If it is proposed that the holiday/trip be with a family member or friend, social workers must ensure that adequate checks are undertaken as set out in Social Visits (Including Overnight Stays with Friends) Procedure.

5. Holidays where the Circumstances are Unusual

If it is proposed to arrange a holiday for a Child Looked After to a destination where the child may be at risk, for example, where there is political unrest, concern that the child may not return as planned or other circumstances which may make it unsafe for the child, it may be necessary to seek the approval of members.

In these circumstances, the social worker should consult the Practice Manager who may decide to seek the authority of members.

If it is decided that the matter should be referred to members, the social worker should draft a report to include the following points:

  1. The name of the person(s) with whom the child is going on holiday and their relationship to the child;
  2. Holiday address;
  3. Dates of the holiday;
  4. The views of the child;
  5. The views of the parent(s) and their consent to the proposed holiday. Where the parental consent is not obtained, details should be recorded;
  6. Cost to the Council, if any. The necessary approval of expenditure should be attached.

6. When the Court's Permission is Required

If the child is the subject of a Care Order and the holiday abroad is for more than one month, an application must also be made to the appropriate Court for the Court's permission to allow the child to go abroad if the parent's written agreement is not obtained.

Where a Court Order is required, the social worker should contact Legal Services as soon as possible for the necessary application to be made and advise the Parents of the intended application.

If the holiday is authorised by the Court, the holiday should be included in the Placement Plan/Placement Information Record and additional contact arranged as above.

7. Insurance Cover

7.1 Healthcare for UK Nationals in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland

The UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) provides access to state healthcare in Europe at a reduced cost, or sometimes for free.

  • If the child already has a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) this remains valid until the expiry date on the card;
  • If the child does not have a European Health Insurance Card or it has expired, they will need a Global Health Insurance Card. Cards can be ordered online from the NHS. For children under 16, the application should be completed by their carers.

The GHIC and EHIC do not replace travel insurance which should be in place for all holidays outside the UK. For the latest advice on the GHIC see the GOV.UK Website.

7.2 Travel Insurance Cover for Holidays

Carers should obtain travel insurance for all holidays overseas, this will cover a range of eventualities, including medical expenses, a trip being cut short or cancelled, and loss or theft of possessions. For more advice on travel insurance, see the GOV.UK Website.

8. Holidays Abroad/Passports

8.1 Holidays Abroad

The social worker should ensure that the carer is provided with a letter which confirms:

  • Name, age, date of birth of the child(ren);
  • Legal status of the child(ren), name of the authority to whom the order is made;
  • Names and addresses of carers;
  • Name of person giving permission for the holiday, date given;
  • Duration and destination of holiday for which permission is given.

The carer should be advised to keep this letter with the passport.

A copy of the letter should be put on the case file.

The social worker should ensure that the following information about the holiday is recorded on the case file:

  • Holiday destination, address and telephone number;
  • Start and end dates;
  • Emergency contacts;
  • Details of the tour operator telephone numbers etc;
  • Details of travel Insurance.

The social worker should check the following with the carer prior to the holiday:

  • That medical and accident insurance has been obtained;
  • That the carers have an GHIC for the child. It is advisable that an GHIC is obtained as this gives clear advice on which countries medical treatment will be given free or at a reduced cost. Most European countries are covered.

Consent for medical treatment form will be taken on holiday.

8.2 Passport Applications

Please see Guidance notes for social services departments when applying for passports on behalf of 'looked after children' (GOV.UK).

  • Children’s Services Departments are normally only entitled to apply for passports for a Looked After Child when they have parental responsibility;
  • Where Children’s Services do not hold parental responsibility, the application cannot be processed without the consent of at least one person who has parental responsibility for the child.

9. Taking Children on day trips and Organised Holidays

When planning day trips or organised holidays, the following must be taken into account:

Activities and Transporting Children Procedures.