A sense of a beginning

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The Fostering Network, as part of its innovation work and with funding from the Department for Education, is introducing, and supporting the delivery of the pioneering Mockingbird Family Model to foster care in the UK. You can find out more here.In his first blog, Christopher - who is working on the Mockingbird programme - reflects on the hub home carers' initial meeting.

Great excitement filled the Abbey Centre in London as the Mockingbird Family Model (MFM) hub home carers met each other for the first time. The large hall was full of the sound of people exchanging thoughts, recounting experiences and recognising their commonality. Being foster carers, all of them are caring and committed people, getting behind this new, ground-breaking model of working. They want to do the best for young people and were giving up their time to learn more about how they could provide a home hub successfully.

On hand to help them was our team of trainers, Helen Keaney, Judy Bell and Diane Heath. Fresh from learning about the MFM in Seattle, they were able to help the carers think through how they could deliver the model and what skills they had developed over their many years of fostering.

The ‘star’ of the day was Degale Cooper, who is a director of The Mockingbird Society who originated the MFM in America. Degale has been instrumental in the success of the MFM. Everyone thought that she was able to make the MFM seem real and that her presence was inspiring. She answered a variety of questions and was able to impart confidence that this project can have real and long lasting impact on foster carers and young people.

Mockingbird Family Model Teams in London (centre, Degale Cooper)​​Mockingbird Family Model Teams in London (centre, Degale Cooper)

Overall the day was a great success with participants feeding back that:

  • They felt that they had more clarity about their roles.
  • They benefitted from networking with others and sharing experiences.
  • They felt they were able to share their concerns and get solutions.

It was heartening when reading the feedback forms to realise that the men and women putting themselves forward for these roles have hundreds (yes, really, hundreds) of years’ foster caring experience between them. This means that when the hub homes are up and running over the next few months that the young people and foster carers from the satellite homes are going to get outstanding support.

The day in London was then replicated in Leeds, where our friends in the North entered into the training with great enthusiasm.

Degale has now returned to the US, but has told us that she was extremely impressed by all the hard work put in so far by those involved in this programme, and that she is very excited about her return in 2016 to see the first UK hub homes in action. She is confident that the model is in very good hands and as we progress in the UK she is looking forward to learning more from us too!

If you have any questions, please contact me on Christopher.scottburrows@fostering.net.