Your fostering agency is likely to not only encourage but expect you to take your foster child on holiday. This enables the child to experience the full spectrum of family life in a supportive, caring environment. It also provides the child with experiences to share with others, which helps them to build friendships.
Taking your foster child on holiday can throw up some challenges, but the memories created make the extra planning worth it. Knowing your foster child’s history will help you choose the best holiday destination and maximise the enjoyment your foster child derives from the experience. Here is a guide on preparing for a holiday with your foster child.
Stay Home or Travel Abroad?
You will need to get permission from your foster child’s social worker to take the child on holiday as they will have to approve that the trip is safe for the child. Overseas holidays will require additional paperwork for foster children. You will also need to apply for a child’s passport before you book anything. Foster children might find a trip abroad too intense if they have not experienced proper holidays before.
Many foster children present with complex therapeutic needs. Some display challenging behaviour due to abusive childhoods and neglect from their primary families. A holiday and summer activity allowance is usually included in a foster parent’s payments and going away can help a child make memories that will last a lifetime. Speak to ispfostering.org.uk if you feel you have what it takes to foster a child in the UK. Fostering allowances will determine your holiday budget, along with the investment you usually made annually when going on holiday before fostering.
At the end of the day, it is easier and cheaper to stay at a local holiday destination. Choose one that is geared towards children and provides continual activities. Look at safety features and do not leave your foster child unattended.
Type of Accommodation
One concern that foster parents face when it comes to taking a foster child on holiday is the type of accommodation that is available and whether this is suitable for the child. When fostering a child, prospective foster parents must be able to provide the child with a separate bedroom. Holiday accommodation seldom takes this into account and families may stay together in cabins with more than one bed per room.
Foster care agencies will generally insist on a foster child being given his/her own room and not sharing with other children or adults. This requirement will likely be reinforced when in holiday accommodation. Before you waste money on a particular venue, check with the agency. They can also help you find suitable places to stay locally.
Making Your Foster Child Comfortable on Holiday
When your holiday takes place abroad, there can be a lot of new things to overwhelm your foster child. They may be excited and/or nervous to fly and may feel uncomfortable at the airport with large numbers of strangers. The safety of your biological and foster children is your priority. Do not let the children explore or wander off. Explain the airport and boarding procedures to them and keep all bags within your site.
Even a beach trip can generate a huge amount of excitement. Some foster children have never had a family holiday. Prepare and communicate the safety rules. Share photos of where they are going and staying, so they know what to expect.
Undertake some day trips and overnight camping during the year to prepare your foster child for the holidays and going away for a few days at a time.