The mockingbird family model of support | Oxfordshire County Council

The mockingbird family model of support

The mockingbird family model is provided through foster carers offering support to other carers.

Support is vital in foster care and we know the role that foster carers play in supporting each other by sharing their knowledge, experience and providing practical support is essential.

Part of the support package offered to Oxfordshire foster carers is the mockingbird model, which focuses on peer support for foster carers.

The model develops a hub and constellation structure, which establishes a sense of extended family and community around our looked after children and young people.

How it works

A hub carer provides support to 6-10 foster or friends and family (Connected Person) carers with one or two children in placement who live in close proximity to the central hub home. This forms the constellation.

The hub carer is an experienced foster carer with 2-3 beds for relief care. They provide support and assistance in navigating systems for carers in their constellation but they also provide:

  • planned and emergency relief care 24/7
  • peer mentoring
  • coaching
  • regular meetings
  • social activities

They do not have a foster child in placement full-time but offer support and relief to the other carers and receive a fee for the support they provide plus allowances for any young people in placement.

The hub home is like the home of an Auntie, Uncle or Grandparent, where both children and carers can find support from someone who understands them.

About the mockingbird model

The Mockingbird Family Model (MFM) was first launched in the USA in 2004, formed by The Mockingbird Society.

In Oxfordshire

Results in the USA show evidence of improved carer retention, placement stability and, as a result, educational stability. It has also been successful in keeping siblings close. As a result of this success we are now piloting the support model.

Advantages of the model:

  • Retention of carers is improved due to enhanced support which is sustainable as it is community based
  • Siblings in large families who cannot live in the same family can be in the same constellation
  • Young people can attend school in the usual way during periods of relief care (no additional travel) and can maintain their social activities
  • The model, once established, has the potential to be used for other groups – supporting parent and child placements, adoption support for older children, support for young people on the edge of care, helping reunification with birth families and programmes such as intensive fostering.
Last reviewed
12 July 2016
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