Hub home carers are at the centre of each of our Mockingbird contellations, so we thought we would let you know what their role involves.
The Fostering Network’s Mockingbird programme is an innovative method of delivering foster care using an extended family model which provides respite care, peer support, regular joint planning and training, and social activities.
It improves the stability of fostering placements and strengthens the relationships between carers, children and young people, fostering services and birth families.
The programme creates a “constellation” of fostering families and at the heart of this is the “hub home” – an experienced fostering household where the carer or carers provide practical and emotional support, including respite, for the families in their constellation.
What does a hub home carer do?
To answer this we have written the following account of a day in the life of a hub home carer using the collected thoughts and opinions of hub home foster carers from our Mockingbird programme.
The roles of a hub home carer are many and varied.
Within an extended family they fulfil a similar role to grandparents they know all the adults, children and young people in their constellation. They celebrate their successes and support them through challenging times. The hub home carers hold monthly constellation meetings, bringing everyone together. These come in many forms, from Sunday lunches and bring-and-share picnics, to days out abseiling and kayaking. These regular fun activities create a space for friendships and relationships to form The hub home carers are also available for planned and emergency support for all constellation members including regular respite (which are referred to as sleepovers within Mockingbird) for children and young people. When they have children in the hub home for sleepovers the hub home carers take on all the same duties as a foster carer. Among other responsibilities, they will do the school run, take the fostered children and young people to their appointments and may support contact with birth family.
There is also all the cooking, cleaning, preparation and washing which goes with being a foster carer, especially when there are different children staying throughout the week, all of whom have different bedding!
What do hub home carers do when they’re not looking after children and young people?
A large responsibility of a hub home carer is to ensure the constellation is running smoothly and supporting any satellite foster carers throughout the day. This might be as simple as dropping something off at a house or giving guidance over the phone but it could also be providing emergency respite for a child or young person form the constellation, answering a call to an anxious foster carer in the early hours or dealing with police, schools or medical staff in often challenging circumstances.
And although it’s not often thought of as an administration role, there is a lot of work behind the scenes which keeps a constellation running well. Tasks such as organising group activities and gatherings for the constellation – which could include celebrating everyone’s birthdays, scheduling and conducting one-to-one meetings with satellite carers; liaising and advocating with the fostering service on behalf of the constellation.
Supporting the hub home carer
Sometimes referred to as the “energy source” or “switchboard” of the constellation, being a hub home carer is a demanding yet extremely rewarding role. To support this, all constellations must have a liaison worker who acts as the bridge between the constellation and their fostering service. They work in partnership with the hub home carer to ensure the constellation runs smoothly and the hub home carer is not overburdened. Others in the constellation can depend heavily on the hub home carer so ensuring they have time to themselves to remain refreshed and focussed is essential.