Outstanding independent fostering agency, West Bridgford-based Fostering People, has been awarded a place on the second pilot of The Fostering Network’s Mockingbird programme. Officially launched on Sunday 13th May, the unique project will see Fostering People deliver foster care using the Mockingbird Family Model – an extended family model that aims to improve the stability of fostering placements and strengthen the relationships between carers, children and young people, fostering services and birth families.
Providing respite care, peer support, regular joint planning and training as well as social activities, The Fostering Network’s Mockingbird programme is based on the Mockingbird Family Model, which was originally developed by The Mockingbird Society in America in 2004. The Fostering Network was funded by the Department for Education’s Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme in 2015 to develop the Mockingbird programme in the UK. This was done in partnership with The Mockingbird Society.
The Mockingbird programme involves a hub home carer supporting a group of up to 10 foster families, known as satellite families. Together they form a ‘constellation’ with a dedicated liaison social worker providing overall supervision.
Lily Stevens, Mockingbird manager at The Fostering Network, says: “The Fostering Network is delighted to be working with Fostering People as part of our Mockingbird programme, introducing the Mockingbird Family Model to its carers and young people. Launching a new Mockingbird constellation is always extremely exciting, and the fact that Fostering People is launching its first hub home at the start of Foster Care Fortnight is particularly happy timing.
“A huge amount of hard work has gone into getting ready for this launch, and we’re looking forward to continuing our partnership with Fostering People over the coming years, supporting them in developing the model and seeing the impact it has on the children, young people and fostering families it supports.’
Experienced foster carer, Neil Perry, is the nominated hub home foster carer for Fostering People, who will be supporting a number of other local foster carers – known as satellite carers. As the hub carer, Neil will be providing planned and emergency respite care to all the satellite carers as well organising social activities with all members of the constellation.
Neil explains: “The theory behind the Mockingbird programme is to make foster care feel as close to everyday family life as possible, and I’m honoured to be the first hub home carer for Fostering People. For the children and young people, it means they get to go to ‘sleep overs’ with other foster families, while for the carers, it’s an opportunity to benefit from much deeper peer support.
“Too often, looked after children miss out on life experiences; our satellite families have a broad awareness and appreciation of the issues affecting children within the constellation, meaning they can work together as a team to deliver those valuable experiences, safely.
“In my role as hub home carer, I’m looking forward to empowering us as a community to support each other and our foster children, to help enrich and improve the lives of all of the children and young people we care for.”
Within a constellation, the shared experience of the carer network will ensure children and young people are supported through a myriad of issues including making and retaining friendships, challenging behaviours, self-esteem issues, developmental barriers and attachment difficulties.
Initially launched in the East Midlands region, Fostering People’s trial of the Mockingbird programme will focus on working together as a constellation to nurture positive friendships between foster children. It is hoped the programme will be extended to other areas within Fostering People’s network.
As well as providing respite care and social activities, other aspects of the Mockingbird programme include keeping siblings together within a constellation where the sibling group is too large to keep together within the same foster family.
John Platt, managing director at Fostering People concluded: “As an independent fostering agency that prides itself on our innovative approach to care, we’re delighted to be selected for the second pilot of the Mockingbird programme.
“Improving outcomes for the children and young people in our care remains our core goal, and the Mockingbird programme is a truly pioneering project that will support us in achieving this ambition.”
Launched in 2000, Fostering People has become a preferred fostering provider for local authorities across the UK. Consistently rated Outstanding by Ofsted, Fostering People is part of Core Assets Group, the UK’s leading holistic children’s services provider.
The Fostering Network is the UK’s leading fostering charity, bringing together everyone who is involved in the lives of fostered children to make foster care the very best it can be.