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Mockingbird Fostering Model

At Foster with North East, as part of our collaborative approach across our region, we are extremely excited to be the first region in the UK to be fully signed up to the Fostering Network's Mockingbird programme. 

We're thrilled to be able to offer foster carers the opportunity to access this innovative fostering model and the benefits it provides. And as the programme is rolled out across new local authorities in the North East, we're looking forward to sharing more details of its positive impact on fostering families in the North East.


What is the Mockingbird model of foster care?

Mockingbird is a fostering programme set up by the charity The Fostering Network. Some partners within Foster with North East, including Together for Children Sunderland and South Tyneside local authority, have been part of the scheme for a number of years now.

For others, the scheme is being introduced for the first time as part of increased levels of support for foster carers across the region.


How does Mockingbird work?

  • You're in it together, you're never alone
    The Mockingbird model of foster care gives fostering families the opportunity to access peer support in a way that feels natural and sociable. But it's also structured and informed by research. 
  • An extension of your fostering family
    Being part of the network expands the social circle of both foster carers and children. It's like having an extended foster family you can call on to get together for activities, celebrations, sleepovers and short breaks. 
  • Learning together and from each other
    Foster carers can also join together for planning and training, sharing experiences and knowledge in the process.

What is a Mockingbird constellation?

Each group of fostering families within the Mockingbird model is called a constellation. There are usually around six to ten fostering families in each constellation. The families can differ in sizes and might include single parent foster carers or couples and birth children, along with any looked after children.

Foster carers in a constellation are linked together in their own networked community. There is a focus on providing mutual support, skills sharing and regular socialising. At the centre of the constellation is a home hub and home hub foster carer(s). Each constellation is also supported by a family support worker for your local authority.

What are the benefits of being part of a Mockingbird constellation?

  • Making memories
    Being part of a Mockingbird constellation gives fostering families a ready network of peers to socialise, experience new activities and go on adventures with.
  • Role model and relationship building
    By mimicking an extended family structure, the constellation gives looked after children additional healthy role models and the chance to get to know other looked after children. Young people also have the opportunity to build meaningful long-term relationships with other trusted adults. Friendships flourish between adults and children alike.
  • A listening ear
    All foster carers in the constellation have the opportunity to support one another, share experiences and training and signpost each other to help and advice they've found useful. 

What do Mockingbird home hub foster carers do?

One or a couple of foster carers will oversee each constellation as home hub foster carers. These foster carers are typically more experienced and have been trained to take on this specialist role. You could say they're like the grandparents of the Mockingbird family (although not always age-wise). 

Home hub carers may host events at their home, organise joint training events and are generally on-hand to provide advice, peer support and get things started.

Want to find out more?

Each Foster with North East partner has its own Mockingbird programme. If you're an existing foster carer who would like to find out about joining a constellation, you should contact your support team for more information. 

Prospective foster carers can share their interest in joining the Mockingbird scheme in the future during the application process. You can find out more about the role out programme across the UK on the dedicated Mockingbird - The Fostering Network