Some key help and advice when taking children and young people on away trips and travelling abroad.
Before taking children and young people to events, organisations should consider the following as minimum requirements for ensuring their safety and protection:
- a child protection statement stating your commitment to the overall safety and welfare of children in your care
- a vetting process for safer recruitment
- procedures for what to do in cases of suspected child abuse or disclosure of abuse
- procedures for reporting concerns
- a designated person for dealing with concerns or allegations of abuse
- a code of conduct for children, staff/volunteers and parents
- written information about the trip and your organisation to children and parents which includes transport method, pick up point, time of return, destination, contact of the organiser and any specific requirements of individual children.
Some key points for organisations to consider regarding transport are
- passenger safety
- duration of the journey and numbers of drivers required
- traffic conditions, weather and insurance
- journey and planned stopping times
- suitability of vehicle the if the group includes disabled passengers
- be aware of emergency procedures.
Ratio of staff to children and young people
Staffing ratios are difficult to judge as they will vary according to the theme of the activity, age group, location and resources. As a guide for children aged 13 and over the ratio should be one adult to ten children, for other ages:
- 0-2 years old one adult to three children
- 2-3 years old one adult to four children
- 4-8 years old one adult to six children
- 9-12 years old one adult to eight children
- 13-18 years old one adult to ten children
For children with disabilities the ratio may be increased depending on the requirements of the group.
Try and gather as much information as you can by:
- contacting other organisations that have been to that area
- making contact with organisations in the area you are visiting
- asking for information from embassies and consulates
- talking to travel agents and tour operators
- checking the internet, books and magazines.
The organiser will need to decide whether to travel on a group passport or individual passports. This may be influenced by the fact that, in many European countries, if the group are staying in individual households, personal ID is required by all foreign nationals.
The organiser should ensure they obtain and take with them:
- travel tickets, passports and maybe a visa
- medical papers, eg – EHIC card (European Health Insurance Card) and any other medical histories
**Photocopies of the above documents should be taken for emergency use and a copy also left behind with a home contact**
- a copy of the contract / booking with the hotel or other accommodation
- parental consent forms
- parental home/mobile contact details
- details of insurance arrangements
- location of local hospitals / medical services.
Extra supervision may be required to address the unfamiliarity of traffic.
Staffing ratios for visits abroad will vary, but clubs may feel it appropriate to take more staff and specifically to take staff or volunteers who can speak the local language of your destination.
It is particularly important that the staff meet in advance of trip to discuss roles and responsibilities.
Identify who amongst the staff group is most familiar with child protection policies and procedures and that all staff are clear about their responsibilities. Ideally the chosen member of the group should have had recent child protection training.
Prepare the group about
- the local language
- the country you are visiting – rules and regulations, dress codes and local customs
- key locations with an easy, to understand map
- suitability of drinking local tap water
- foreign money and travellers cheques
- telephones – phone cards, mobiles, rates and code for dialling home
- vaccinations if required
- the organisations child protection policy and procedures (maybe take photocopies).
It is important to ensure that appropriate sleeping arrangements are put in place to protect children and young people.
Adults should sleep in separate but nearby sleeping quarters and attention needs to be given to adequate provision for each gender prior to the trip, together with the accommodation provider.
Separate sleeping areas need to be provided for each gender and age group (under 8’s, 8+, 13+) of children and young people. Where this is not possible, arrangements need to be made to ensure adequate separation of the age groups within the sleeping accommodation.
Attention also needs to be given to safe access for the children/young people to adult leaders and to toilet facilities during the night.
Adequate preparation means that if a visit to accommodation is not carried out beforehand, a floor plan and a set of dimensions needs to be obtained.