Have you heard about Mockingbird, the new way to foster?
Hear from Sarah Farquharson, our Mockingbird Liaison Worker. Sarah tells us about the Devon Mockingbird pilot and her role in this fostering programme. Mockingbird is led by The Fostering Network in the UK, 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. We are launching the Devon Mockingbird pilot this month.
What inspired you to be part of the Fostering Team at Devon County Council?
I have worked for Devon County Council since qualifying as a social worker 11 years ago when I took up a training placement in the fostering team, this experience made me think I knew then that this was the area of children’s social work that I wanted to work in.
I’ve been part of the Fostering Team for the past seven years and I love my role. I am proud that I have been both a supervising social worker, and a team manager which I will continue to do alongside my role as our Mockingbird Liaison Worker.
Why did you apply to become the Mockingbird Liaison Worker?
As soon as I heard about how successful the Mockingbird project has been in other areas of the world and how effective and positive it is for our fostering families. I just knew I wanted to be part of embedding Mockingbird into our service in Fostering Devon. Fostering can be both tough but so very rewarding. I am passionate about always aiming to improve and develop our service as best we can for our carers and our children and young people in care. The new Liaison Worker role brings together all my years of fostering social work experience. It also allows me a chance to spend some quality time with carers and our young people in their care in a unique and close way. The Mockingbird model brings everyone together in a way which mimics a wider family network. This links back to the very reasons why I became a social worker in the first place.
What aspects of fostering make you the happiest?
To be a foster carer is a unique and critical role within the lives of some of the most vulnerable children and young children in our society. It takes a special person to care for children and young people as our foster carers do. It’s a privilege to be able to witness such skill, commitment and I love being part of the service. To see the way in which children in care go onto thrive and excel in their foster homes will never fail to make me feel proud of our fostering service. (Could we say about different types of fostering?)
What benefits can you see being part of Mockingbird will bring to Devon County Council?
In preparation for the launch of Mockingbird, I have spent time liaising with and visiting other fostering teams across the country who already have the Mockingbird model embedded in their service. There is clear evidence of how beneficial being a part of a Mockingbird Hub is to them all. The sense of being part of a close supportive non-judgemental community, with those who understand in real terms, the challenges of being a carer or a child in care is immense and brings a much deeper sense of belonging and connection and a higher level of support. Having a specialist Hub Home Carer available to support foster carers whenever it is needed is making a difference for children and young people so that, even when times are challenging, they can remain in their fostering homes. There are also regular social events and activities with everyone in the constellation group coming together so that families can share their experience and build long lasting friendships and relationships – it’s also a chance to have much needed fun and enjoyment.