Mockingbird Family Model (a new way of providing foster care)


The Mockingbird Family Model is a new way of providing foster care.

As a foster carer, you can join a supportive community with other foster families.

It's like having a big, extended family to support you and the children you care for:

  • carers can support each other to overcome problems
  • young people can have more adults in their lives who care about their safety and wellbeing
  • young people can form positive relationships with other people in care

By joining a Mockingbird group, you will get:

  • regular social events
  • sleepovers and short breaks for children
  • support and mentoring from other carers


How it works

One foster home acts as a 'hub home'.

Carers in the hub home will get training from Mockingbird trainers from The Fostering Network.

The hub home offers support to 6 to 10 foster homes, known as 'satellite homes'.

The families are all supported by a liaison worker from the Fostering Service at South Tyneside Council.

This network of support is known as a 'constellation'.

It can include:

  • children and young people living with foster parents (foster homes)
  • children living with other family members or friends (kinship homes)
  • homes with adopted children (adoptive homes)
  • links to young adults living independently after leaving care (independent living)
  • links to birth families and other people that are important to children's wellbeing

Families will usually live near to the hub home.

Each group will have a variety of families and children's age ranges, just like a typical extended family.

Diagram showing the Mockingbird Family Model


How families are supported

The hub home provides support to the other families, through:

  • regular social activities (usually at least once a month)
  • planned and emergency sleepovers (the hub home must have at least two beds specifically for the use of children and young people in their group)
  • short breaks 
  • mentoring and support
  • help to access support that is available in the wider community
  • joint planning and training

The hub home also provides a neutral space for:

  • shared decision-making meetings
  • social worker visits
  • sibling and birth family visits

How to join

Ask your fostering social worker about joining a Mockingbird group.

They can tell you more about how it works, and what it means for you and the children in your care.

  • You must be committed to taking part in the hub community
  • You must be an Approved Foster Carer who is committed to career development with South Tyneside

Foster carers in the group will have a range of skills levels at Level 2, 3 or 4 of the 'Payment for Skills' Model and 'Tasks, Skills and Competencies' Framework

Where to find more information

About the Mockingbird Family Model

The Fostering Network, with funding from the Department for Education, is introducing and supporting the delivery of the Mockingbird Family Model.

South Tyneside is one of a small number of Councils who are delivering the Mockingbird programme.

It aims to:

  • give structured support to foster carers
  • give stability and extra protection to looked after children
  • keep siblings together
  • strengthen relationships between foster carers, children and young people, the Fostering Service at South Tyneside Council, and birth families
  • give children and young people a more positive experience of care

It is evidence-based, and has been formally evaluated to show improved outcomes for children, young people and foster carers.

More information

You can read more about the Mockingbird programme on the Fostering Network website, see The Fostering Network: Mockingbird Family Model.

For more information:

Mockingbird family model logo

South Tyneside Council, in conjunction with The Fostering Network, is delivering the Mockingbird programme, which is an innovative method of foster care using the Mockingbird Family Model. This is an extended family model that provides sleepovers and short breaks, peer support, regular joint planning and training, and social activities.