Mockingbird Family Model

What is the Mockingbird family model?

The Mockingbird family model is an alternative method of delivering foster care with the potential to improve placement stability, safety and permanency for children and young people in care and to improve support for, and retention of, foster carers. The Mockingbird family model, developed by the Mockingbird Society in the USA, increases the protective factors around children through the simple provision of an extended network of support. It uses the concept of a ‘constellation’ which is where 6 to 10 ‘satellite’  families of foster carers live in close proximity to a dedicated hub home of a specially recruited and trained carer offering planned and emergency respite care, peer support, regular joint planning and social activities. Relationships are central to Mockingbird, with the hub carer and foster carers providing frontline care and with social workers able to concentrate on successful relationship building.  The hub empowers families to support each other and overcome problems before they escalate, and offers children a more positive experience of care through a wider support network of adults. The hub also builds links with other families important to the children’s care plans and to resources in the wider community which can provide them with enhanced opportunities to learn, develop and succeed.

Fostering People and Mockingbird

Fostering People has long been associated as a quality agency, which take active measures to improve quality and outcomes for children. We were drawn to Mockingbird because its ethos closely matches that of our own.  Fostering People have joined the second phase of the pilot project supported by the DfE and facilitated by The Fostering Network.

A Mockingbird Constellation

What will the hub home provide?

  • Planned and emergency respite care 24/7
  • Monthly social events for families providing peer interaction and support for caregivers, children and young people
  • Unlimited access to social support and mentoring for satellite carers
  • Help to navigate the system and access community resources
  • A neutral environment for shared decision, making meetings, social worker visits, sibling and birth family visits
  • Critical support to social workers problem solving, and so increasing safety, well being and permanency.

What outcomes do we expect to see?

This project aims to develop a flexible evidence-based delivery model for foster care that will meet the varied needs of looked after children and young people.

We are being supported by a national programme team within The Fostering Network which support us to adapt the model to meet our local needs within the fidelity criteria and help us to demonstrate impact. The programme hopes to improve outcomes for children and young people, fostering families and the fostering services that support them.

Specific outcomes aims include:

  • Improved wellbeing for looked after children, young people and foster carers
  • Improved safety and standards of care for young people and fostering families
  • Improved placement stability with a reduction in disrupted care journeys and a reduced number of unplanned placement moves
  • Successful transitions to permanence (including a return to birth families, where appropriate)
  • A reduction in the overuse of costly and/or inappropriate placement options (emergency, out of area, residential) linked to practical necessity as opposed to identified need
  • Improved planning and facilitation of contact with birth families
  • Better value for money for fostering services
  • Stronger relationships between foster carers and social workers
  • Increased rates of carer recruitment and retention of foster carers
  • Improved status and a stronger role for foster carers in the professional team around the child
  • Improved foster carer confidence and motivation
  • Reduction in foster carer isolation
  • Help maintaining sibling relationships.

Contact us to find out more or call on 0800 077 8159

Mockingbird in Action – Read our latest blog

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