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4.6.2 Holidays and School Trips Within and Outside the UK


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


Delegation of Authority to Foster Carers and Residential Workers Procedure

Social Visits (Including Overnight Stays) Procedure

Contact with Parents/Adults and Siblings Procedure


In May 2018 this chapter was extensively revised and extended to include holidays both within and outside the UK. It should be re-read in full.


  1. Holidays for Looked After Children in the UK
  2. Holidays for Looked After Children Outside the UK
  3. School / Organisation Trips of Up To 4 Days Away

1. Holidays for Looked After Children in the UK

Where there is a proposal for a looked after child to go on holiday in the UK, the child's social worker must obtain full information about the holiday.

This will include:

  • Location, proposed dates and duration;
  • Address(es)/contact details of the holiday location/what type of holiday;
  • Insurance details;
  • Who else will be present on the holiday (names of all other children and adults);
  • If the holiday involves staying with friends or relatives, their names and addresses;
  • Emergency contact arrangements;
  • Any risk assessments that may be required, which should include any health or behaviour issues of the child as well as the holiday environment itself.

The child's social worker should seek the views of the child and parent / persons who have Parental Responsibility as soon as practicable.

If the parents are in agreement, their consent must be obtained in writing.

Where the social worker, parent and staff/carer agree to the proposed holiday, the holiday can be approved and should be included in the child's Placement Plan.

Where a child is in in a long term placement and there is agreement with Children’s Services that the carers have Delegated Authority, (see Delegation of Authority to Foster Carers and Residential Workers Procedure), depending upon the nature of the delegation agreed, it may be that the carers are able to make such decisions themselves. However, good practice should ensure that decisions by the carers are shared in a timely way with their Supervising Social Worker and the child’s social worker. The parent/s should be advised as appropriate – especially if the holiday would affect contact arrangements.

Children must not be taken on holiday during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances that would be approved by the Head of Service for the child and the Head of the school. This will be kept under review following a recent high court judgement. Requests must be made in writing. The Education (Pupil Registration) Regulations 2013 make clear that head teachers may not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are ‘exceptional circumstances’.)

Where the social worker considers that a holiday should go ahead despite the parents' opposition and legal advice supports this, the approval of the Head of Service should be sought. The request for such approval should include any legal advice.

Written confirmation of the manager's decision, together with the reasons, should be provided to the parent.

Where the holiday would involve additional costs which children’s Services are asked to pay, the social worker should obtain approval for the costs from the relevant manager before the holiday can be agreed/booked.

If approved, the holiday should be included in the child's Placement Information Record.

Where the holiday will interrupt contact arrangements between the child and parents, consideration should also be given to arranging additional contacts before and after the holiday.

2. Holidays for Looked After Children Outside the UK

2.1. Holidays for Accommodated Children

Arrangements for the carers notifying and consulting the social worker about holiday plans should be agreed in the Placement Information Record.

The consent of the parent(s) or person with Parental Responsibility must be obtained and a consent form signed.

The child's social worker must obtain full information about the holiday, as outlined in Section 1, Holidays for Looked After Children in the UK.

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 who will discuss the implications with their manager. A check should be undertaken through Foreign Office, Foreign Travel Advice and a decision made.

If it is a group day trip or holiday, the social worker must be satisfied that adequate health and safety precautions, including appropriate risk assessments, are in place.

Children must not be taken on holiday during term time: see Section 1, Holidays for Looked After Children in the UK.

2.2 Holidays for Children the subject of Care Orders

Holidays of Less Than One Month

The procedure is the same as for those for Accommodated Children (see Section 2.1, Holidays for Accommodated Children) except that the consent of the parents or person having Parental Responsibility is not required though should be sought and obtained wherever practicable or possible. Any objections by the parent(s) should be recorded on ICS.

The social worker should ensure that arrangements are in place through the Placement Information Record to be notified well in advance of any plans for holidays abroad in order to obtain required consent wherever practicable or possible.

Holidays of One Month or More

This requires either the written consent of every person who has parental responsibility for the child, or the leave of the court.

Where a Court Order is required, the social worker should, with the agreement of the District Safeguarding/Group Manager, contact Legal Services as soon as possible for the necessary application to be made and advise the parents of the intended application.

It is usual for the court to require evidence of the views of those with Parental Responsibility or the efforts made to obtain them.

If the holiday is authorised by the Court, the holiday should be included in the Placement Plan and a copy of the court order giving leave for the holiday should also be given to the foster carer.

2.3 Holidays for Unaccompanied Asylum Seekers

The procedure is the same as for Accommodated Children (see Section 2.1, 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 child's social worker would have to endorse the holiday by signing the consent form.

The social worker must check whether there are any restrictions with regards to the child/young person’s ability to travel outside the country. A young person may not be able to travel abroad with their foster carer if the trip was planned at short notice, as travel documents would have to be applied for.

2.4 Insurance

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 a 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. (See Self help UK, Department of Health, Health Advice for Travellers).

Insurance Cover for Holidays

  • The insurance referred to above in 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, particularly outside Europe. This is the primary responsibility of the carer, though they should discuss any difficulty with the social worker.

2.5 Obtaining a Passport

  • The United Kingdom Passport Agency provides ‘Guidance notes for Social Services Departments when applying for passports on behalf of ‘looked after children'';
  • If Children's Services have previously applied for a passport on the child's behalf and are applying for a renewal or extension, a letter outlining the child’s circumstances stating that these have not changed is usually sufficient. In these circumstances there is no need to complete the application form. This should be signed by the Head of Service;
  • 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 );
  • 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.

3. School / Organisation Trips of Up To 4 Days Away

The social worker should check 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.

Where a child is placed in foster care or residential care, the Placement Information Record 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 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 line manager and obtain legal advice as necessary. Where the manager agrees to the child going on the trip despite parental opposition, the reasons must be recorded and explained to the parent.