Going On Vacation with Your Foster Child: Is Traveling OK?

If you have opened up your heart and home to a foster child, you may be wondering about travel. Can you go on vacation with your foster child?

Yes, you may be able to travel and go on vacation with your foster child providing you obtain permission from the foster care agency. Having the proper documentation when traveling, especially when flying is of utmost importance. International travel may also be permitted.

For children, travel can broaden their horizons in so many ways. Depending on where they are traveling, a child can be introduced to exciting new worlds.

Even instate travel offers educational opportunities while having fun at the same time. Children love museums, and museums offer a look at so much history in so many different ways.

Whether you are heading to New York to visit the Statue of Liberty or heading to a foreign country, there is so much a child can absorb that will have a lasting impression.

You have worked hard, and you deserve some vacation time with your family. Being allowed to do so with a foster child would seem like a wonderful idea for all. You do, however, need to be upfront with your travel ideas before the plans have been made.

Young family in the water at a water park.

The last thing you should ever do is to travel out of your area with a foster child, and then hope it will be fine if the state ever finds out.

Being a foster parent involves a trusting relationship between the foster parent and the foster care agency in the state in which the foster parent resides.

Chances are you will be allowed to travel with your foster child, but to truly know the answer to this question requires contacting your foster child’s caseworker to find out what is required.

We cannot forget, too, that if the foster child’s parents still have legal rights to the child, then their permission may be required for vacation travel to be permitted.

Preparing to Travel With Your Foster Child

If you are in the beginning stages of hoping to plan a trip with your foster child, then you will want to contemplate the following to help you stay on track.

Reach Out to Your Caseworker

Your first step is to contact your foster child’s caseworker to share your desire to make travel plans. It is in your best interest to do this as soon as possible to ensure there will be enough time to get all of your ducks in a row without feeling rushed.

Consider Your Child’s Schedule, Not Just Your Own

Just as you would want to consider your schedule for planning your vacation, you will also want to consider your foster child’s schedule as well.

Foster children tend to have a lot going on. Routine counseling appointments will need to be addressed, as well as any possible upcoming court appearances and/or processes.

As parents in general, we tend to allow children to miss some school for a vacation knowing they will have the opportunity to do makeup work to stay caught up.

Yet something to consider is your foster child’s experience in foster care. Many foster children get moved around, miss school, and then subsequently fall behind.

If your foster child has experienced some challenges staying caught up and on track with school, it may be worth it to consider scheduling your vacation during a time that will be less disruptive for your foster child.

What Might Prevent You From Traveling With Your Foster Child?

The court system is one of the most significant barriers to bringing your foster child on vacation.

If your child has court-ordered visitations or a court appearance set during your vacation, he will be compelled to attend and will not be able to vacation with you.

If you can’t rearrange your therapeutic or medical appointments, you won’t be able to bring your foster child with you.

If a child was recently put in your home, these issues may be more difficult to resolve, but if you double-check with the child’s caseworker about appointments, visitation, and court orders, you’ll have a better understanding of how likely it is that your foster child will vacation with you.

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What If You Aren’t Allowed to Travel With Your Foster Child?

Don’t panic if your foster child has a travel difficulty that prevents him from vacationing with you; you still have the option of going on vacation while leaving your foster child with a temporary caregiver.

This temporary care, often known as respite care, helps foster parents to keep their plans without incurring costly cancellation fees.

Although it is advised that you include your foster child in your vacation plans, it is a good idea to plan ahead of time and work with your child’s caseworker to find a temporary caregiver who has previously been approved by the foster care system.

Out-of-State or International Travel

When you take in a foster child, they rapidly become a member of your family. You’ll want your foster children to participate in all of your family’s events, including the holidays.

We encourage our foster families to travel with their foster children, but there are a few things to consider beforehand.

If parental rights are intact, interstate and foreign travel must be organized in consultation with the parents.

It isn’t much you can do if the foster child’s parents refuse to give you permission to travel out of state or internationally.

After all, biological parents who retain the authority to make travel decisions for their children have the final say on what their children do and don’t do regarding travel.

To Bring the Foster Child or Not to Bring the Foster Child on Vacation

The decision whether or not to bring children in foster care on vacation must be made by every home, but sometimes, it creates feelings of guilt if we are torn about not wanting to take them with us.

You may experience guilt thinking the foster child will feel left out of the fun.

Here are a few things to consider when asking yourself whether you should take your foster child on vacation with your family:

  • Is the trip planned suitable for the child? Is the location appropriate for them? Will it cause them to experience trauma or provoke habits that you aren’t ready to deal with in that situation?
  • Is it interstate or international, and will the biological parents, case management team, or judge have to approve it first?
  • Will you enjoy your time away with the child you’re fostering, or do you need to get away from the world of fostering for a while?
  • Do you think your child will like this vacation and that you won’t be able to leave them with anyone while you’re gone?
  • You don’t want them to “miss out” on a trip they might not be able to take once they’ve reintegrated with their parent.

There are so many variables and so many diverse responses. Above all, when it comes to taking a trip with or without foster children, get to know yourself and your family.

There should be times when you should take your foster child, as well as times when you shouldn’t take your foster child.

You should not be influenced by your presumed or known perceptions of what others think of you for doing so.

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Trina Greenfield - Adoption Author

About the Author:
Trina Greenfield is passionate about providing information to those considering growing their family. Trina does not run an adoption agency. Her website is strictly information-based, so she is able to provide unbiased, credible information that she hopes will help guide those along their journey.