The Mockingbird Family Model (MFM) is an alternative way of providing foster care.
It involves foster carers being part of a group with other foster carers who are described as satellite foster homes; they are supported by a central hub home which provides resources and support to the satellite homes.
The hub home and the satellite homes are supported by a fostering service which provides someone to act as a liaison worker.
How the hub home is chosen
The hub home’s carer needs to be an experienced and skilled foster carer with the motivation to build a community. Hub carers are trained by specially accredited Mockingbird trainers from The Fostering Network. The hub home is required to have two bedrooms available specifically for the children and young people in their hub.
Satellite carers are invited to join a hub; referrals are taken from fostering social workers as well as children’s social workers who first must discuss the concept of the model with carers. Satellite carers will usually live relatively near to their hub home and must be committed to actively engaging in the hub community.
The aim is for the hub to replicate the variations of types of families and age ranges of children that operate within an average extended family.
Support provided by the hub home
The support provided through the hub home includes:
- planned and emergency respite care 24/7
- monthly social events for families providing peer interaction and support for caregivers, children and young people
- unlimited access to social support and mentoring for satellite carers
- help to navigate the system and access community resources
The hub home can also provide a neutral environment for shared decision-making meetings, social worker visits, sibling and birth family visits, as well as critical support to social workers by problem solving, and so increasing safety, well-being, and permanency.
A key feature of the MFM is that it helps to take good care of the people who take care of children and young people.
Aims of the project
The aims of the MFM are to increase placement stability for children who are looked after, prioritise sibling connections, promote active child protection, support permanency and improve the support provided to foster carers so that the local authority can retain foster carers.
The model was developed in Washington State, USA and is based on the concept of extended family. The model is evidence-based, has been formally evaluated and shows improved outcomes for children, young people and foster carers.
What’s happening in our borough
The Fostering Network, with funding from the Department for Education, is introducing and supporting the delivery of the MFM to foster care in the UK.
We are one of a number of local authorities who will be delivering the MFM and we plan to launch our first hub in December 2017 and set up further hubs throughout 2018.