Mockingbird, a global award winning and pioneering programme 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.
Mockingbird is one of a number of innovative programmes that The Fostering Network runs to improve foster care and outcomes for fostered young people.
We are working with a growing number of local authorities, fostering services, children’s services trusts and independent fostering providers across the UK. Please contact the Mockingbird team to discuss how Mockingbird could support fostering families in your service.
Mockingbird in the UK
Mockingbird is a pioneering programme delivered by The Fostering Network in partnership with 62 fostering services across the UK. The programme nurtures the relationships between children, young people and foster families supporting them to build a resilient and caring community of six to ten satellite families called a constellation.
Watch our short film What is Mockingbird? to hear from our hub home carers and satellite families about their experience being part of Mockingbird.
As of November 2021, there are 84 Mockingbird constellations in England, Wales, and Scotland, Each is led by a hub home carer and liaison worker; the constellation offers vital peer support and guidance alongside social activities and sleepovers to strengthen relationships and permanence. View our latest programme update to see where we are working and impact our sites are reporting.
The Mockingbird Family Model™ originated in Seattle and was developed by the Mockingbird Society, it is delivered under licence in the UK. The model is now being delivered and implemented in the USA and the UK, in Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and we continue to work closely with our partners to share practice and create a network of global connections.
The Constellation Community
Relationships are central to Mockingbird. The hub home carer builds strong relationships with everyone in the constellation, empowering families to support each other and overcome problems before they escalate or lead to placement breakdown, which increases protective factors around the children.
Watch our animation Mockingbird: a really big family to hear from young people about their experience of being part of a constellation. This film was co-produced in 2021 with young people who are part of Mockingbird in the UK.
The programme is rooted in fostering and 78 percent of young people who are part of constellations are in mainstream fostering placements. However, Mockingbird has huge flexibility to support children and young people at all stages of their journey through care. Constellations have included young people in kinship care and special guardianship orders, adoptive families, children and their key workers from residential care, parent and child placements and young people under staying put and shared lives arrangements.
Being able to support a diversity of placement types has met the needs of different care-experienced populations and embraces the ethos of the model with child-centred practice, maintaining relationships, emphasising an extended family network, and reducing bureaucracy. The model also offers supportive peer relationships for sons and daughters of foster carers.
The Mockingbird constellation also builds links with other families and individuals important to the children’s care plans and to resources in the wider community which can provide them with enhanced opportunities to learn, develop and succeed.
Evidence and Impact
The latest independent evaluation of Mockingbird published by the Department for Education found the programme to be a cost-effective, sustainable model of foster care, with more capacity to care for children and young people than other existing fostering models. One notable finding from the report was that for every £1 invested in the programme by a fostering service there has been a saving of 99 pence. Read the independent evaluation 2017-2020 here
Third Sector Awards
We were delighted to win the Big Impact Award at last year's Third Sector Awards, being described as "A fantastic and innovative project, bringing real change and with demonstrable impact. This is a sea-change in the way foster car is delivered".