City of York Logo


Top of page

Size: View this website with small text View this website with medium text View this website with large text View this website with high visibility

6.4.2 Arrangements for Leisure, Holiday and Other Extra-Mural Activities for Children Looked After by the City of York Council

Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Shared Responsibilities, Consents and Delegated Authority
  3. Organised Social Activities, and Participation in Low-risk Sporting Activities
  4. Participation in Higher-risk Sporting or Leisure Activities, such as Canoeing, Skiing, Rock-Climbing
  5. Participation in School Trips
  6. Visiting Friends or Relatives for the Day, or Overnight, but for less than 24 Hours
  7. Visits to Friends or Relatives for more than 24 Hours
  8. Visits to Friends or Relatives of the Child’s Foster Carer
  9. Holidays in England or Wales
  10. Holidays Abroad
  11. Obtaining Employment while still Attending School
  12. Changes to Appearance


1. Introduction

These arrangements apply principally to children who are placed with foster carers, or in residential units,but also to children subject to care orders who are living with one or more of their parents under the Placement with Parents Regulations. This procedure does not apply to children subject to Placement Orders who are placed in a pre-adoptive placements (please see City of York Fostering and Adoption).

As a general principle, parental consent must be sought for children who are looked after under S. 20 of the Children Act to take part in any organised out of school activity. For children who are the subjects of care orders, parental consent should still be sought wherever practicable, but if consent is withheld,the local authority can overrule the parent, and give consent,wherever it is satisfied that to give consent would be in the child’s interests. Even if parental consent is forthcoming, the permission of the local authority should also be obtained in relation to some activities.


2. Shared Responsibilities, Consents and Delegated Authority

The sharing of responsibilities, consents and delegation of authority to the carers of Children in Care is covered in the statutory guidance Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations 2010. This states that in the case of an Accommodated child:

“The placement plan must set out the respective responsibilities of the responsible authority and the child’s parents and any arrangements for delegation to the responsible authority from the child’s parents”.

The social worker must:

“Discuss with parents those areas of responsibility they are willing to delegate to the authority and those that they wish to retain in the context of the needs of the child”.

With children subject to Care Orders, or Interim Care Orders, where Parental Responsibility is shared with the local authority, the local authority may determine how parental responsibility is exercised. However the regulations state that:

“It will be important to include parents in these discussions so far as is possible and appropriate for the child, in order to enable them to continue to play a part in their child’s life”.

There is a clear expectation that wherever possible and appropriate to do so this  theme within the new regulations that wherever appropriate responsibility and the authority to make day to day decisions about the care of a Child in Care will be delegated to the child’s carers. The extent of this and the delegation and the specific areas delegated will be different in each case, although there is a general expectation that:

“Where a child is in a placement which is intended to be permanent, as reflected in the care plan, it is likely that the placement plan will reflect greater levels of delegated responsibility to the carers”

Further advice and guidance provided by the Fostering Network on this subject can be found in the Social Workers Handbook or by viewing a video (see The Fostering Network website). There is also Information for Parents (see The Fostering Network website).

When it is planned that a child will be Accommodated, the social worker must start the process of discussing issues of consents and delegated responsibilities with the parents of the child, the carers and the child (depending on age and level of understanding).

In the case of children coming into the care of the local authority in an emergency,the issues of consents shared responsibilities and delegated responsibility will be discussed and agreed, and recorded in the child’s Placement Plan, at a Placement Planning Meeting held within 5 days of the child becoming Looked After.

It will be important wherever possible to plan ahead for known upcoming events and activities which the child may wish to participate in such as school trips or residential visits.

It will also be important to try to anticipate, and resolve at an early stage, issues which may potentially lead to confusion or conflict at a future stage, such as visits to friends, attendance at school parents’ evenings, or who can make decisions around changes to personal appearance.

Consents, shared responsibilities and the details of delegated authority should be discussed at the pre-placement planning meeting and recorded in the Placement Plan. Subsequent Children and Young People in Care Review meetings should consider the agreed delegations of authority and make changes as appropriate. The Placement Plan should be updated to reflect any changes.

Issues of consent and shared responsibilities also apply and must be agreed and written into the child’s Placement Plan in respect of children who are the subjects of care orders, but who are currently living with their parent(s) under the Placement with Parents Regulations.

This section addresses the actions required of the social worker and other staff in Children’s Social Care, when a child or their carer is proposing that the child takes part in one of the following activities. Where it is possible to anticipate any of these at the point of placement then agreements should be reached in the pre-placement planning meeting, or at any subsequent review meeting,and set out in the Placement Plan.

  1. Organised social activities within the local community, such as membership of local youth group, dance class etc.;
  2. Participation in low-risk sporting activities, such as organised football, swimming, netball, cricket;
  3. Participation in higher-risk sporting or leisure activities; such as canoeing, skiing, rock-climbing;
  4. Participation in school day trips;
  5. Participation in residential school trips;
  6. Visiting friends or relatives, and going out on trips with their families for the day;
  7. Visiting friends or relatives, and staying overnight;
  8. Visiting friends and relatives, and staying for more than 24 hours;
  9. Going on holiday in England or Wales;
  10. Going on holiday elsewhere;
  11. Obtaining employment while still attending school;
  12. Significant changes in appearance, involving lasting changes such as change of hair colour, body-piercing, or tattooing.


3. Organised Social Activities, and Participation in Low-risk Sporting Activities

Social workers should advise foster carers or residential care staff of the need to keep parents informed of children’s involvement in such activities, whatever the child’s legal status. Social workers also need to ensure that involvement in such activity is consistent with a child’s wishes. However, the prior consent of parents is not required unless, in the placement agreement meeting, or in a Children and Young People in Care Review, the parent has indicated that they would not want their child to take part in activities of this kind, for a particular reason.

Where a parent does raise objections, these should be respected in relation to children looked after under S. 20. In relation to children who are the subjects of full or interim care orders or placement orders, however, the social worker may seek permission to overrule the parent’s refusal to grant consent. Advice should normally be sought from the Council’s legal section before permission is sought. For such activities, the parent’s refusal to grant consent can be overruled by a manager. The manager should write formally to the parent, setting out the reasons for their decision. The social worker should inform the IRO of this decision.


4. Participation in Higher-risk Sporting or Leisure Activities, such as Canoeing, Skiing, Rock-Climbing

Social workers should advise foster carers or residential care staff of the need to obtain parental consent for their child’involvement in such activities, whatever the child’s legal status. Social workers also need to ensure that involvement in such activity is consistent with a child’s wishes. Both the parental consent and the confirmation that the activity is consistent with the child’s wishes should be obtained before any permission is granted by the local authority.

The child’s social worker, or the carer, should also obtain written confirmation that the activity is supervised by an appropriately qualified leader, that appropriate safety checks are in place, and that the child’s participation in such activity is covered by appropriate insurance in the event of accident. The social worker should operate on the same principle, when making these enquiries, as a reasonable parent. Children should not be discouraged from taking part in challenging activities, merely because of anxiety about criticisms in the event of accident, but all reasonable enquiries should be made to ensure that risks are being properly managed.

Subject to these checks having been undertaken, the consent of the parent should be sought. Where a parent does raise objections, these should be respected in relation to children looked after under S. 20. In relation to children who are the subjects of full or interim care orders or placement orders,however, the social worker must seek consent from their manager. Where the parent is known to oppose the giving of consent, legal advice from the Council’s legal section should be sought. In these circumstances, the practice manager should write formally to the parent, setting out the reasons for their decision. The social worker should inform the IRO of this decision.


5. Participation in School Trips

Where children have the opportunity to take part in day trips with other pupils in the same school, organised by the school,social workers should advise foster carers or residential care staff of the need to keep parents informed of children’s involvement in such activities, whatever the child’s legal status. Social workers also need to ensure that involvement in such activity is consistent with a child’s wishes. However, the prior consent of parents is not required unless, in the placement agreement meeting, or in a Children and Young People in Care Review, the parent has indicated that they would not want their child to take part in activities of this kind, for a particular reason.

Where children have the opportunity to take part in a residential event organised by the school, parental consent must be sought. Where a parent does raise objections, these should be respected in relation to children looked after under S.20. In relation to children who are the subjects of full or interim care orders or placement orders, however, the social worker must seek consent from their manager. Where the parent is known to oppose the giving of consent, legal advice from the Council’s legal section should be sought. In these circumstances, the manager should write formally to the parent, setting out the reasons for their decision. The social worker should inform the IRO of this decision.


6. Visiting Friends or Relatives for the Day, or Overnight, but for less than 24 Hours

Visits to friends and relatives are a normal part of growing up for most children, and this principle should be applied equally to children being looked after by the local authority. However,some constraints exist on the freedom of carers to give permission for such experiences, without the consent of birth parents, or of senior officers in the local authority.

The starting point for all discussions between children, their carers, parents and the local authority should be that permission will be granted as long as the enquiries and safeguards which a reasonable parent would insist on in relation to their own child have been carried out. Equally, it is important that children being looked after by the local authority are not excluded from normal social interactions with their peers, merely because of their legal status as Children in Care.

Wherever possible, discussions should take place between the carer, the social worker, and the parent of the child before specific requests are made. Therefore, when children are of an age to spend time away from their carers with friends, the issue should be discussed at a child’s placement agreement meeting,or at the appropriate Children and Young People in Care Review.

Visits to the homes of friends made at school, nursery, youth club, or similar social situations do not need to be preceded by any formal checks or permissions, so long as the following conditions apply:

  1. The visit does not involve an overnight stay;
  2. The arrangement has not been made to provide respite for the carer, but as part of the child’s normal development of social skills and relationships;
  3. The carer would be equally happy for her/his own child to visit;
  4. The adult who will be responsible for the child during the visit has agreed with the carer that the visit should take place, is aware of any particular medical conditions or behavioural problems, and knows what action to take immediately, including how to contact the child’s carer;
  5. The carer is available to respond to any requests for advice, or for the visit to be ended prematurely;
  6. The child is able to communicate their wishes on the subject, and how the visit went;
  7. The arrangement does not conflict with other commitments, such as contact with family members where this is specified in a court order;
  8. There are no particular reasons to believe that the child may use the visit to “go missing”;
  9. The carer is content to take responsibility for making the decision.

The above paragraph applies to all children whom the local authority is looking after, including children placed with apparent, but subject to a Care Order, and to the Placement with Parents Regulations.

Where the request is for a child to stay with a friend or relative overnight, but for less than 24 hours, the following additional conditions must apply, before the consent can be given by the Child’s carer:

  1. The social worker and/or foster carer should consider the child’s age and level of understanding and use their discretion and their knowledge of the child in relation to this;
  2. The child must not be suffering from a serious medical condition requiring specialist knowledge;
  3. The social worker should be consulted if the child has  “gone missing” from their placement within the last 3 months;
  4. The overnight stay must not be with friends or relatives; of the child’s birth family, unless the social worker has previously given approval that the carer can consent to such requests;
  5. The social worker does not consider that managing the child’s behaviour requires a degree of expertise not likely to be found in adults without experience of fostering or similar work.

The social worker should explain the Council’s policy in relation to such requests to the child’s birth parents and/or others with parental responsibility before, or as soon as the issue becomes “live” for their child. The social worker should also explain the policy to the child, where he or she is old enough to understand, at least in part, the reasons for these restrictions.

Where one or more of these conditions applies to the child’s particular circumstances, the carer should refuse consent, and refer the matter to the child’s social worker, explaining that the visit cannot take place until the social worker has made their own assessment.

Wherever such a request is referred to the child’s social worker, the social worker should make such enquiries as are appropriate to the particular circumstances, but should always visit the adult in whose home the child wishes to stay, before an overnight stay is approved. The need to undertake DBS checks should also be considered, but consent should not be withheld until those are completed, where the enquiries of the social worker indicate that there are no particular grounds for concern. In undertaking their assessment, the social worker should have particular regard to any of the issues identified above,which apply to the particular circumstances of the child’s request.

Having completed their enquiries, the social worker should report the outcome of their enquiries to their manager,who will decide whether to give permission or not.

Any child who feels that consent has been unreasonably withheld should be advised of their right to complain, and should also be encouraged to take up the matter with the Children’s Rights Officer.


7. Visits to Friends or Relatives for more than 24 Hours

Where it is proposed that a child who is looked after by the local authority wishes to stay with a friend or relative for more than 24 hours, the following restrictions apply.

  1. If the child is subject to a care order, including an interim care order, a visit to a friend or relative (other than a friend or relative of their foster carer)  which lasts for more than 24 hours will be a change of placement. In this circumstance, the friend or relative must have been approved as a foster carer, using the emergency procedures if necessary;
  2. If the child is being looked after under S. 20 of the Children Act, and permission for the stay is granted by the child’s parent or other person with parental responsibility, the child may stay with the friend or relative for as long as the parent agrees, but the child will not be looked after by the local authority during that time, unless this is approved as part of the child’s plan as a regular contact arrangement. Where the child does stay with a friend or relative for more than 24 hours, without that approval, their return to their original placement would be regarded as the start of a new episode of being looked after, unless the friend or relative had been approved as a foster carer, using the emergency procedures if necessary.


8. Visits to Friends or Relatives of the Child’s Foster Carer

Visits, including overnight stays or stays over a number of days and nights of children to close friends of their parents or relatives are a normal part of the lifestyle of many families. Where this forms a part of the normal arrangements of a child’s foster family, it may be appropriate for a child placed with them to participate in such visits or overnight stays.

Visits of this nature will not be considered as changes of placement, but as an extension or continuation of the current placement, with the suitability of the arrangement remaining at the discretion of the foster carer, and social worker.

Any proposed visits of this type should wherever possible be discussed at the pre-placement planning meeting and any agreement reached should be recorded in the child’s Placement Plan. Issues which will need to be taken into consideration include:

  1. Visits should not in any way contravene the child’s Care Plan including any contact with their own parents, friends or relatives, particularly where that is either directly court ordered or part of a contact plan for a child whose care is the subject of on-going Care Proceedings;
  2. The child’s specific needs including physical, and health matters, emotional or behavioural difficulties or particular past experiences. The parenting experience and skill of the proposed alternative carer may need to be taken into consideration depending on the level of complexity of those needs;
  3. The child’s own wishes in relation to such visits.


9. Holidays in England or Wales

Children must not be taken on holiday during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances that have been approved by the social worker's manager and the Head Teacher of the child’s school. Requests must be made in writing.

Children who are looked after by the local authority will have opportunities to take holidays within England and Wales, either with their usual carers, or as part of school or out of school organised activities.

If the child is accommodated under S. 20 of the Children Act,the written consent of a person with parental responsibility should be obtained. Wherever possible this should be agreed at the point of placement or at a subsequent Children and Young People in Care Review and reflected in the child’s Placement Plan.

If the child is subject to a care order or interim care order, the consent of any person with parental responsibility should also be sought, but consent must also be obtained from the responsible practice manager. If a person with parental responsibility withholds consent, the consent of the manager will overrule this. However, all those family members involved in regular contact arrangements with the child must be informed of any changes to those arrangements arising from the holiday.


10. Holidays Abroad

Children who are looked after by the local authority may have opportunities to take foreign holidays, with their current carers,or sometimes as part of school trips. Wherever possible, Children and Families staff should promote and support such opportunities. In order to do this, social workers and family placement workers must be aware of the timescale needed to ensure that a passport can be obtained for a child, who is being looked after by the local authority, and make every effort to ensure that children are not deprived of opportunities to take part in such events because of their “looked after” status.

Where children are looked after under S. 20 of the Children Act, the consent of a person with parental responsibility must be obtained. As their signature will also be required on any application form for a passport, it is essential that discussions with birth parents or with anyone who holds parental responsibility for the child are initiated at an early stage in the process of planning the trip.In circumstances where the whereabouts of any person with parental responsibility are not known, the local authority should explain the circumstances in writing to the UK Passport Service, giving details of the efforts made to contact a person with parental responsibility, and the length of time they have been missing. In these circumstances,consideration will be given to issuing a passport, dependent on the child’s individual circumstances. Where the whereabouts of a person with parental responsibility are known, but that person chooses to withhold consent, the UK Passport Service will be unable to issue a passport.

Where children are the subjects of care orders to the local authority, consent from birth parents should still be sought,although if it is withheld, the local authority can overrule this decision, if it considers that to do so would “safeguard and promote the welfare of the child”. Whether or not consent has been given by a birth parent, or other person with parental responsibility, written consent must also be granted by the Designated Manager (Passports).

In seeking consent, the child’s social worker should inform the person with parental responsibility, and the Designated Manager (Passports), of the following information:

  1. The dates of the proposed foreign trip;
  2. The location(s).

The social worker should also record on file:

  1. Arrangements whereby the child and carers can be contacted if necessary.

It is the responsibility of the family placement worker to ensure that foster carers are aware of the arrangements which need to be made when they are planning to take abroad a child who is looked after by the local authority. It is the responsibility of the social worker to initiate any application for a passport to travel to countries outside the United Kingdom. Social workers,family placement workers, and foster carers must all take account of the possible delays in obtaining a passport, when the legal status of the child is not straightforward.

Click here to access specific guidance from the United Kingdom Passport Office.

If the child for whom a passport is being sought is aged 12 or over, s/he will need to sign the application form.

Where the child is the subject of a care order, the carers will not be allowed to take the child abroad for a period of more than one month, without the consent of every other person who has parental responsibility for the child.

If the child is subject of an Interim Care Order, the order must still be valid on the date the passport is issued. A copy of the interim order, showing the date it is due to expire, must be included with the application.

Social workers should also seek consent from a person with parental responsibility, and, in the case of children subject to care orders, from the Designated Manager (Passports), for children to travel to Scotland, Northern Ireland, or the Republic of Ireland. A copy of the written consent of a person with parental responsibility, or a letter from the Designated Manager (Passports) authorising the visit, should be given to the persons responsible for the child while undertaking the visit.


11. Obtaining Employment while still Attending School

Employers must obtain a work permit for any child who obtains employment while still attending school, or still legally below the age when s/he is permitted to leave school. The work permit should be obtained from the local education authority within whose boundaries the child is employed.

Children are not allowed by law to undertake any regular paid employment before they reach their 13th birthday.

Children who are looked after by the City of York Council are subject to these legal requirements in the same way as any other child. Children who are accommodated under S. 20 of the Children Act can only be employed if a person with parental responsibility signs the form on which the employer applies for a work permit. This signature confirms not only that they accept the terms of the child’s employment, but also that they have been given feedback regarding the risk assessment which the employer is always required to carry out before making an application. The signature also confirms the parent’s opinion that the child is fit to undertake the employment.

Where children are the subjects of care orders or interim care orders, the consent of a person with parental responsibility should still be sought, but in addition, the form should be signed by the responsible manager, after the social worker has received feedback on the risk assessment. If the person with parental responsibility withholds consent, the manager can overrule this, although s/he should explain in writing to the person with parental responsibility why s/he has taken this decision.

The Council publishes a guide for employers, schoolchildren,and their parents/carers which summarises this information:“Employment of School Children: Guide for Employers, School. Children, and their Parents/Carers". A copy of this leaflet should be given to the child, and to anyone with parental responsibility who is consulted about this issue.

Click here to access more specific advice.

In general, children under 14 are not allowed to undertake paid work, except in specific situations, or except when the local authority in which the child resides has excepted some forms of work (such as a paper round, for example) from this rule, in local by-laws.


12. Changes to Appearance

Significant changes to children’s appearance which require the intervention of some procedure by a hairdresser, tattoos or other commercial agency normally require the consent of a person with parental responsibility. Children and Families Service staff need to consider a number of issues when considering requests for consent in this area. These include:

  1. The familial, cultural, religious, and ethnic traditions of the child’s birth family;
  2. The age and emotional maturity of the child;
  3. Any health risks.

Where a child is looked after under S. 20 of the Children Act,any significant or lasting change to their appearance must have the consent of a person with parental responsibility, unless it has been agreed in advance by the parent that consent can be delegated to the child’s carer.

The term “significant or lasting change to appearance includes:

  1. Major changes to hair style or colouring;
  2. Piercing of ears for ear-rings;
  3. Piercing of any other body part for ornamental or cosmetic purposes;
  4. Tattoos or any other epidermal decoration which cannot be removed by the application of normal cleansing agents.

Where children are the subjects of care orders to the local authority, consent from birth parents should still be sought,although if it is withheld, the local authority can overrule this decision, if it considers that to do so would “safeguard and promote the welfare of the child”. Whether or not consent has been given by a birth parent, or other person with parental responsibility, written consent must also be granted by the responsible manager, although consent can be delegated to the child’s carer wherever a family member with parental responsibility has been consulted, and has not objected, in the following circumstances:

  1. For major changes in hair style or colouring, and for ear piercing, where the child is over 10;
  2. For piercing of other body parts, where the child is over.

The law states that permanent tattoos may not be carried out on children under the age of 18, whatever their legal status. Children or young people who are seeking permission to obtain a tattoo must be advised that tattooists are not allowed to practice on persons under 18. In any situations where a child being looked after by the local authority has obtained a tattoo,the police should be informed.

End