Innovation fund award to bring Mockingbird to the UK

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Media release

The Fostering Network is bringing a pioneering approach to foster care and the support of children and foster carers to the UK following a £1.597m funding award from the Department for Education’s Innovation Programme.

The Mockingbird Family Model has been shown to be a successful way to improve outcomes for looked-after-children in the US. It uses the concept of a dedicated ‘hub home’ of specially recruited and trained carers offering respite care, peer support, regular joint planning and social activities to a ‘constellation’ of six to 10 families of foster and kinship carers living in close proximity.

Like an extended family, the hub empowers families to support each other, overcome problems before they escalate and offer children a more positive experience of care. The hub also builds links with other families important to the children’s care plans and to a wider community of stakeholders who can provide them with enhanced opportunities to learn, develop and succeed. 

Independent evaluation in the US demonstrates increased placement stability, more successful transitions to permanency, enhanced birth family and sibling relationships, improved retention rates for foster carers and an increased sense of community for carers and children alike.

The Fostering Network will be working with its originators to transpose the model to the UK, becoming a licensed provider of a UK model. In the first year work will focus on the delivery of kinship and foster care for adolescents, raising standards of care and realising significant cost savings. The Fostering Network will work with eight local authorities and independent fostering providers in England to achieve this.

Melissa Green, director of operations at The Fostering Network, said: “The Fostering Network is committed to supporting foster carers and giving children in foster care the very best chance of a positive future. The funding we have received from the Department for Education’s Innovation Programme will allow us to take the learning from the Mockingbird Family Model and translate it to reflect fostering in the UK. This presents a truly pioneering opportunity to change young people's lives for the better.

“Mockingbird is a simple, innovative and research informed approach to restructuring children’s services with proven positive outcomes for children, carers and services. We believe it will inspire and engage fostering services across the UK with a new, intuitive approach to foster care.

“There is a tremendous appetite for innovation in fostering services across the country and we have brought together a strong and committed group of eight fostering services all of who have pledged to sustained delivery of the new model.”

You can find out more about the Mockingbird Family Model and The Fostering Network’s other innovative programmes of work on our website.

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Notes to editors

1. Over 63,000 children live with over 52,500 foster families across the UK each day. The Fostering Network estimates that at least 8,370 new foster families are needed across the UK in 2015 alone. In particular there’s a real need to find foster carers for teenagers, disabled children and sibling groups.

2. The Fostering Network is the UK’s leading fostering charity. By working with foster families, and the services that support them, we help all children and young people who are fostered to achieve the very best they can.

3. The Fostering Network is working with the following fostering services to deliver Mockingbird: Leeds City Council, Stockport Council, Calderdale Council, Acorn Care and Education (Heath Farm), Royal Borough of Greenwich, Doncaster Children’s Trust, Oxfordshire County Council, London Borough of Tower Hamlets.