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3.11.20 Leisure Activities


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Planning
  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. The Role of Foster Carers and Residential Staff


1. Introduction

Leisure activities are an important part of everyday life. The guiding principle is that looked after children should, as far as possible, be given the same opportunity to take part in normal and acceptable age-appropriate activities as their peers. Judgment should depend on the assessed risks and needs of the child. See also: Foster Carer's Delegated Authority Decision Support Tool.

Leisure activities benefit a child and can help develop their emotional, intellectual, social, creative and physical skills.

Children should enjoy and have access to a range of social, educational and recreational opportunities, including activities in the local community, as appropriate. They should have the opportunity to participate in after-school activities or community-based activities and school trips and holidays, and be supported to engage in faith-based activities if they wish.

Arts and drama can help a child or young person to express their feelings with the child being free from everyday pressures. Mental wellbeing can also be supported by sports and other activities as it gives a child or young person an outlet for their energy, emotions and/or focus.

Taking part in after school activities can increase a child or young person self-esteem and give them another skill such as piano lessons, football, drama classes etc. It can also help with structuring a child or young person's week and give them security.

The existing leisure interests of a child or young person can play an important role when a child or young person becomes looked after as it provides some stability and continuity for the child and helps maintain friendship groups.

Leisure activities depend on what the child or young person is interested in and their abilities. For example a child with disabilities, health conditions or impairments may need adjustments or aids to enable them to participate in activities they choose.


2. Planning

The child or young person's interests, hobbies and leisure activities should be considered when placing a child. As far as practical hobbies and interests should be maintained and encouraged. This will form part of the placement plan (see Decision to Look After Procedure and Care Planning Procedure).

A child or young person's personal education plan should be used to encourage a child or young person to develop leisure activities both in and out of school.

The placement plan should also detail and add clarity around day to day decisions and activities such as education, leisure activities, overnight stays, and personal issues such as haircuts.

The child or young person's looked after review should be used to evaluate the effectiveness of these plans and ensure that a child or young person's needs are being met.

Children should be supported to take age-appropriate risks that are considered with carers, placing social workers (as appropriate) and the children themselves, following appropriate risk assessment.


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 activities, whatever the child’s legal status. Social workers also need to ensure that involvement in activities is consistent with a child’s wishes. However, the prior consent of parents is not required unless, in the placement planning meeting, or in a Looked After Review, the parent has indicated that they would not want their child to take part in specific activities, 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 subject of full or interim care orders or placement orders, 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

The child’s social worker or the carer need to obtain parental consent for their child’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. 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 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 subject 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 team 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. The Role of Foster Carers and Residential Staff

Foster carers and residential staff should be proactive and encourage the child to take part in leisure activities, and outside interests should also be encouraged. Foster carers have a role in practically supporting children to participate, which may need to be balanced with the needs of other young people in their care.

Foster Carers should assist school age children in obtaining a Breeze card and Junior Bodyline cards are available from Leisure Centres for children looked after living in Leeds. The foster carer should request a MAX Card which gives discounts to a range of leisure and educational opportunities.

End