What is Mockingbird?
Mockingbird is a global, award-winning and pioneering programme led by The Fostering Network in the UK, which delivers sustainable foster care. It is an evidence-based model structured around the support and relationships an extended family provides.
The model nurtures the relationships between children, young people and foster families supporting them to build a resilient and caring community. Led by a hub home carer and liaison worker, the constellation community offers vital peer support and guidance alongside social activities and sleepovers to strengthen relationships and permanence.
Devon’s Mockingbird launch in 2022
At the beginning of 2022, Fostering Devon began working alongside the Fostering Network planning Devon’s Mockingbird Pilot, with the launch of Devon’s first Mockingbird constellation happening in South Devon in November 2022.
Devon’s Mockingbird Pilot is funded by the Department for Education’s (DfE) COVID-19 Regional Recovery and Building Back Better Fund. The Mockingbird Pilot project forms part of the Restorative Devon Programme, embedding restorative practice across Devon Children’s Services by building strong, meaningful, trusting and respectful ‘relationships’ and repairing relationships when difficulties or harm arises.
Why are we using the Mockingbird Family Model?
The aims of the Mockingbird Family Model are to improve placement stability for children who are looked after, prioritise sibling connections, promote active child protection, support permanence and improve the support provided to foster carers.
The model was developed in Washington State, USA, and is based on the concept of extended family. This fits with Devon’s Corporate Parenting responsibility, Sufficiency Strategies and Children’s Services Restorative Practice model by putting families at the center of finding solutions and solving problems, using restorative approaches.
The model is evidence-based, has been formally evaluated and shows improved outcomes for children, young people and foster carers.
What do we hope to achieve by implementing Mockingbird?
The implementation of Mockingbird is expected to improve outcomes for children and young people by:
- improving placement stability – reduced placement breakdown because carers have a network of support
- decreasing the number of young people placed in residential care or independent fostering agencies
- increasing the number of young people enabled to live locally
- improving contact between separated siblings
- improving the process and experience of sleepovers rather than provision of respite care
- improving skills, confidence and role satisfaction for foster carers
- improving levels of carer retention and recruitment
What have we achieved with the launch of our first Mockingbird constellation?
The hub home carers Sarah and Andy have hosted several events to bring the constellation families together. In fact, these get togethers started prior to the official launch in November, and included walks on the beach, coffee catch ups and football on the beach.
Since launch, there have been Christmas parties, roast dinners, movie nights, fajita nights, jam evenings, toddler afternoons and foster carers self-care/pamper sessions (which are held every month). There have been lots of outdoor activities, such as mornings at the foster school, breakfast at Endsleigh Gardens, a pantomime show, trampolining at Adrenaline Adventure Park, and a disco night to name but a few.
Friendships have flourished and get-togethers are full of laughter and chatter. Both the adults and children look forward to meeting their Mockingbird families, and both the Mockingbird children and adults have very clearly voiced just how important Mockingbird and the connections they have made have been to them.
Here are some quotes from our Mockingbird Families in South Devon:
“Mockingbird gives other people a better insight into another way to be a family.” – Roo, Satellite Carer
“The home hub is just amazing.” – Lydia, 10 years old
“My experience before Mockingbird was that after transitions you go through a period whereby you feel lost and abandoned by the Fostering Network, but Mockingbird really helped me this time. I still feel very much part of our community-based constellation and have enjoyed attending the socials and coffee mornings.” – Roo, Satellite Carer