What is the Mockingbird Family Model?

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There is no set model for offering foster care. However, at Fostering People, we use the Mockingbird Family Model. This provides security and support not only for the young people in our care, but also for the foster families who look after them. This in turn goes on providing the best care for the child.

The Mockingbird Family Model defined

The Mockingbird Family Model (MFM) is a distinct model for providing foster care originating from the USA. The central ethos is that foster families are part of a distinct group alongside other foster families. Each family is a ‘satellite’ of a central hub.

The central hub in the MFM is a centralised support and resource base which is there for the satellite foster families. The liaison between the hub and the satellites is the predominant source of support for both children and carers.

An MFM hub

Being the centralised point, the hub home is vital to the success and wellbeing of all the satellite homes. Therefore, the foster carer at the hub should be a skilled and experienced foster carer, but also a leader and community-builder. The model’s success depends on their ability to provide support and community to their satellite homes.

For logistical reasons, hub homes are typically located close to satellite homes. This is very much about creating a community of foster care. In many ways, the purpose of the hub is to replicate the extended family network of support many healthy families experience. Therefore, it should include a diverse range of foster families with different abilities, skills and experience. It will likely include transitional homes to independent living, for example.

The hub isn’t simply the conduit of community. The hub home can also offer more. It is quite normal for the hub home to offer breaks to satellite foster carers by providing respite and emergency care as needed. They may also mentor satellite foster carers who are less experienced, or provide advice to them about how to navigate accessing resources or further support.
A hub home can also be a safe and neutral ‘base’ for various events, including meeting birth family, or holding meetings with social workers.

What is good about the MFM model?

In our experience, foster care placements are only ever as successful as the strength of support behind the foster carer. Foster care is a complex 24/7 role which requires the foster carer themselves to be supported. The MFM model meets this need for foster carer support at the ground level.

In turn, this provides increased stability and security to the children in foster care, within the satellite homes. There is an additional layer of security and extended care and support. A child’s protection is safeguarded at a very secure level. It also provides support to the ethos of offering relational care, whereby children can thrive and develop with healthy relationships which perhaps they have not, as yet, been afforded.

Fundamentally, all satellite families are the community of the central hub, empowered to maximise the level of care being offered to all of the children in all of the homes.

When problems arise, as they do in foster placements, the foster carer and foster child are not isolated as they work through them. Instead, they draw on a range of support and nurturing for both parties, so that a solution is found more quickly.

Fostering People and MFM

At Fostering People, we are driven to provide the highest level of care for our young people which results in the most positive outcomes. We have seen, in action, how the MFM achieves this. We actively use a Mockingbird approach in children’s care plans and see exceptional outcomes for both children and our foster carers. The ethos of the Mockingbird model matches what we have always striven to achieve.

MFM with Fostering People is part of a wider national programme within The Fostering Network. Together, we are making a huge difference to foster care.

Disclosure: collaborative post

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December 10, 2018
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