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As of November 2022, we have adopted the Mockingbird model as part of The Fostering Network's global, award-winning programme.

This programme aims to better support our foster carers and young people in care by creating an extended family-style support system.

The model has the potential to improve placement stability, safety and permanency for children and young people, whilst also improving the support that is available for foster carers.

Mockingbird has been shown to have significant benefits for all involved and really helps to normalise foster care, so we are incredibly proud to introduce this programme into our service.


How does Mockingbird work?

The innovative Mockingbird model brings together up to ten ‘satellite foster families’ to form a ‘constellation’. At the heart of each ‘constellation’ is a ‘hub home’ where a specially recruited and trained foster carer supports all carers within the ‘constellation’. This support provided could include:

  • 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
  • planned and emergency respite care 24/7, including day care and overnight stays
  • help to navigate the system and access community resources

This creates a community of foster carers and young people in care who have regular contact with each other, helping everyone involved to build new networks and relationships.


Why are we taking part?

The aims of the Mockingbird model are to improve placement stability for children in care, prioritise sibling connections, promote active child protection, support permanence and improve the support provided to foster carers.

This means that foster carers are more likely to have reduced feelings of isolation and continue to foster for years to come.

The global impact of the programme has seen:

  • Improved placement stability
  • Improved experience of peer support
  • Improved sibling contact
  • Improved experience of birth family contact
  • Improved process and experience of respite care
  • Improved skills, confidence and role satisfaction for foster carers
  • Improved levels of carer retention and recruitment
  • Networks of strong and authentic relationships able to replicate the support offered by an extended family
  • A robust and resilient structure able to support children, young people and fostering families through times of crisis and transition

As an Ofsted rated 'good' service, the benefits of Mockingbird are aligned with our goals and values, so we are very proud to have introduced the programme to Darlington.

Mockingbird in Darlington

We created Darlington Borough Council's first 'constellation' in November 2022 and are trialling the programme for 12 months.

So far, this group have formed a tight knit community with regular contact, monthly coffee mornings and child-friendly events that have allowed all of the children to bond, including birth children and children in care. They have been able to organise emergency childcare for each other, and find support and encouragement in shared experiences.

"Mockingbird has changed the way I see our future in fostering as a family. We can now see the positives of caring for older children and how they would fit into our family in the longer term."

"I know I'm not on my own."

"Mockingbird has changed my life."

If you've been thinking about fostering, please don't hesitate to get in touch[external link]. Alternatively, you can fill out our fostering quiz to see if you'd be eligible.

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