A number of young people in foster care experience disrupted care journeys, multiple placements and unplanned placement moves. The Mockingbird model aims to improve the stability of fostering placements and strengthening the relationships between carers, children and young people, fostering services and birth families.
The Mockingbird model comprises constellations of six to eight carer homes arranged around a central hub home in which trained carers offer respite services, develop relationships and provide support to foster families. Hub-home carers build strong relationships with all those in the constellation, so that problems are overcome before they escalate. They also facilitate access for constellation families to wider community resources and activities.
The Mockingbird model was originally developed by The Mockingbird Society in America in 2004. The Fostering Network ran an eight site pilot funded by the DfE in 2015. As of January 2020, there are 38 Mockingbird partners, 24 of which have at least one established constellation and 14 partners are in the implementation stages of the programme.
The DfE-funded independent evaluation published in 2016 found that
- At the end of the evaluation period 16 constellations with 106 fostering households were operational.
- The evaluation also found that MFM may facilitate some of the conditions that are positively associated with improved placement stability and foster carer retention: Approximately 4% of the children in MFM experienced an unplanned placement change, which is lower than the national picture, estimated in 2015 to be in the region of 8% of all children looked after.
- None of the foster carers participating in the MFM ceased to foster during the evaluation timeframe. This compares to a national estimate of around 6% of foster carers ceasing to foster in the year 2014-2015.