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5.4.1 Holidays and School Trips

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

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

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in February 2017, Section 1.1, Considering Applications for Discretionary Leave of Absence During Termtime in Exceptional Circumstances – Children in our Care has been added.


Contents

  1. Holidays for Accommodated Children
  2. Holidays for Children on Care Orders
  3. Holidays for Unaccompanied Asylum Seekers
  4. When the Court’s Permission is Required
  5. Insurance
  6. Obtaining a Passport
  7. School / Organisational Trips of up to 4 days Away
  8. School / Organisational Trips of More than 4 days


1. Holidays for Accommodated Children

Arrangements for notifying and consulting the Social Worker about holiday plans should be agreed in the placement plan.

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 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 such decisions themselves. However, it is important that decisions by the carers are shared in a timely way with the supporting foster care social worker and / or child’s allocated practitioner.

The consent of the parent(s) or person with Parental Responsibility must be obtained and consent form signed. This should be used to provide the following information:

  • Address where holiday is taken;
  • Responsible adult(s) accompanying the child including adult/child ratio if group holiday;
  • If the child is going with a family or person who is not known to Children's Services, whether the appropriate checks have been made;
  • Dates of holiday;
  • Views of the child;
  • If any cost to the Authority, including insurance;
  • Any additional information.

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

Children must not be taken on holiday during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances.

1.1 Considering Applications for Discretionary Leave of Absence During Termtime in Exceptional Circumstances – Children in our Care

Additional processes apply when the request for discretionary leave of absence during term time is made for a child who is looked after by the Local Authority. Any application must first be approved by Service Leader - Children in Care and Children with Disabilities and the Headteacher. The following process must be followed:

  1. Formal request made by the child’s social worker to their Service Leader prior to any arrangements being made by foster carers/parents. The decision will be recorded on the child’s file;
  2. If request is approved, the child’s social worker must follow the school process as outlined in their attendance policy to apply for discretionary leave of absence during term time prior to any arrangements being made by foster carers/parents. The child’s social worker must ensure that the Headteacher is given a copy of the confirmation of the decision by their Service Leader as part of the application process. The Headteacher must notify the child’s social worker of their decision and the child’s social worker must record the decision on the child’s file and notify the foster carers/parents of the outcome.

2. Holidays for Children on Care Orders

The procedure is the same as for those for Accommodated Children (see Section 1, Holidays for Accommodated Children) except that the consent of the parents or person having Parental Responsibility is not required but should be obtained wherever practicable or possible. Any objections by the parent(s) should be recorded on the child's electronic records.

The responsibility for holidays in the UK may be delegated to the child's primary carer, although consultation with the social worker and school would be expected - see also Delegation of Authority to Foster Carers and Residential Workers Procedure.

The social worker should ensure that arrangements are in place through the Placement Plan / to be notified well in advance of any plans for holidays abroad in order to obtain required consent.

For a child on a Care Order consent for holidays abroad must be obtained from a Head of Service \Service Leader in Children's Social Care.


3. Holidays for Unaccompanied Asylum Seekers

The procedure is the same as for Accommodated Children (see Section 1, Holidays for Accommodated Children) except that:

  • Approval is unlikely if the child/young person wishes to go on their own and/or to a destination which could call into question the integrity of their original claim for asylum;
  • The responsibility for holidays in the UK may be delegated to the child's primary carer, although consultation with the social worker and school would be expected - see also Delegation of Authority to Foster Carers and Residential Workers Procedure;
  • Consent for holidays abroad must be obtained from a Head of Service in Children's Social Care.


4. When the Courts 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.


5. Insurance

5.1 Medical Treatment during visits to EEC Countries

Children travelling within EU/EEA countries and Switzerland will be covered for medical treatment through a European Health Insurance Card. An application form can be downloaded from or be collected from the post office. The Department of Health also provides health advice for travellers. For children under 16 years old, the form needs to be completed by the parent(s) or foster carer(s) and be submitted as a family application. Young people over 16 can apply for a European Health Insurance Card in their own name.

5.2 Private Medical Insurance Cover or Insurance Cover for Holidays

In situations where medical cover is required at short notice, it is suggested that private insurance cover is taken out.

The insurance referred to in Section 5.1, Medical Treatment during visits to EEC Countries only covers a child for medical treatment and not for loss of luggage, cover for cancellation of the holiday etc. Therefore a private insurance policy is needed for a child travelling abroad.


6. Obtaining a Passport

The United Kingdom Passport Agency provides guidance for Social Workers seeking to obtain a passport for a Looked After Child.

If Children's Social Care Services have previously applied for a passport on the child's behalf and are applying for a renewal or extension, a letter outlining the circumstances mentioned above stating that these have not changed is sufficient. In these circumstances there is no need to complete the application form. This should be signed by the Head of Service/Service Leader.

Where there is a proposal for a child to go on holiday abroad and the child does not currently hold a valid passport, the request to the Head of Service in relation to the holiday should include a written request for the authority to obtain a passport for the child.

If it is an urgent application where an application is made in person, the social worker must provide evidence of their identity and a signed letter of authorisation from the Head of Service/Service Leader.

Where the child requires a passport for any other reason, the approval of the Head of Service should be sought. The written request for such approval should include the reason for the request, the wishes of the child; the views of the parent; the views of the Staff/Carer where applicable. Where the Head of Service gives authority for a passport to be obtained for a child, this must be confirmed in writing. The social worker must inform the parent of the decision.

The social worker will obtain and complete the necessary application for the child or assist the child to complete the necessary application form.


7. School / Organisational Trips of up to 4 days Away

The social worker should ensure risk assessments have been conducted.

The child's participation in school/organisational trips should be considered at the time of the placement, and the consultation required before they can be agreed should be included in the Placement Plan/Placement Information Record.

Where a child is placed with the parents, the Placement Plan/Placement Information Record will usually provide that a school trip of up to 4 days can be agreed by the social worker in consultation with the school and the parent.

Where a child is placed in foster care or residential care, the Placement Plan will usually authorise the staff/carer to agree to the child going on school or other organisational trips of up to 4 days away without prior consultation with the social worker or the parent - see Social Visits and Overnight Stays with Friends Procedure. If the staff/carer have not been so authorised, the child's social worker and parents must be consulted before agreement can be given.

Where parental consent is not given, the social worker should consult their team manager and obtain legal advice as necessary. Where the team manager agrees to the child going on the trip despite parental opposition, the reasons must be recorded and explained to the parent.


8. School / Organisational Trips of More than 4 days

Where the child expresses a wish to go on a school/organisational trip that is for more than 4 days, the following procedure should be followed.

To obtain approval for the trip, the social worker must first obtain full details of the arrangements for the trip including how many staff will be present, and whether all the adults on the trip including volunteers have had the necessary checks.

Social workers should ensure the appropriate procedure has been followed for risk assessments.

The child's social worker must seek the views of the parent, staff/carer and school as soon as possible and decide whether it is appropriate to recommend that the child be allowed to go.

If the social worker considers that it would be appropriate for the child to go on the trip, the social worker must seek the consent of his/her team manager.

The written request for such approval should explain the purpose and length of the trip; the wishes of the child; the views of the parent; the views of the staff/carer (unless the child is placed at home), the views of the school; arrangements for adult supervision on the trip, whether the adults are well known to the child and vice versa and the likely cost and how it is to be funded. The request for approval may be accompanied by a request for financial support.

Where parental consent is not given, the social worker should obtain legal advice and the request to the social worker's team manager should refer to the legal advice given. Where the team manager agrees to the child going on the trip despite parental opposition, the reasons must be recorded and a written explanation should be provided to the parent.

End