Foster Care Transforming Lives conference: Models of Care

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The Foster Care Transforming Lives conference taking place in Edinburgh on 20 November will explore the similarities, differences and developments in foster care systems across Europe, with a focus on how they can support children through childhood, prepare young people for adulthood and how foster care can support brith families. 

This blog looks at the Models of Care session that will feature speakers from the University of Oxford, University of York, The Fostering Network and Paideia Foundation presenting research and best practice around two newer models of care for fostered children. 

Fostering agencies face challenges in improving the outcomes and wellbeing of children and young people in care, decreasing placement disruptions and increasing the retention of foster carers. An international literature review on peer support for foster carers found that key support needs were attained through peer support and identified the Mockingbird Family Model as a promising model for peer support and respite (Luke & Sebba, 2013).

The Fostering Network’s Mockingbird programme, independently evaluated by Rees Centre, University of Oxford, is an innovative method of delivering foster care using the Mockingbird Family Model. The programme centres on a constellation where one foster home acts as a hub, offering planned and emergency sleepovers, regular joint planning and training, and social activities, to six to 10 satellite fostering or kinship care families. The extended family model improves the stability of fostering placements and strengthens the relationships between carers, children and young people, fostering services and birth families. During the Models of Care session, Freya Burley from The Fostering Network, Ellie Ott from Rees Centre, University of Oxford and Dr Caroline Cresswell from the University of York will provide an overview of the programme and an analysis and evaluation of the delivery in the UK.

The Department for Education reported that the most difficult decisions facing social workers concern children that are on the edge of care and the capacity of parents to change when there are serious child protection concerns. Family for a Family, a preventative intervention program developed by Paideia Foundation in Italy, provides support to vulnerable families with children who are at high risk of entering the care system. Unlike traditional methods where the intervention is mainly oriented towards the minor, this program works with the entire family offering peer support from experienced foster families to improve relationships, environments, parenting skills, and to set and evaluate outcomes. Piloted in 2003 in Turin, this program is now delivered across Italy as the newest form of family support. Research found that the program improved parental skills, empowered families and has been an innovative tool for professionals of services in Italy. Giorgia Salvadori, Roberto Maurizio and Fabrizio Serra from Paideia Foundation will present the program and research outcomes.

There are many more sessions taking place at the conference, such as the Supporting Children and Young People Leaving Care session.

Read the full agenda or find out more about the conference on our website including the how to book your place. You can also contact the conference team at or call 020 7620 6400 and select option 3.