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Pioneering fostering programme supports 70 looked after children and their foster families in Surrey

A pioneering fostering model in Surrey has now helped improve the lives of 70 young people, giving them a stronger support network and extended family.

Surrey County Council introduced the Mockingbird Family Model, which in the UK is delivered by leading charity The Fostering Network, in October 2019. Children and young people in foster care in Surrey benefit hugely from Mockingbird, a pioneering and award-winning foster care model which sees a ‘constellation’ or ‘Hub’ of fostering households come together to form an ‘extended family’, providing support, fun, relationship to carers and children alike.

The model has gone from strength to strength and across the UK there are approaching 90 constellations and The Fostering Network is recommending the Mockingbird programme expands to all local authorities, so we hope this number will continue to grow.

Surrey has currently achieved three constellations, each led by a hub home foster carer who offers vital peer support and guidance, community and companionship, social get-togethers, play dates and sleepovers, to strengthen relationships and community.

Thanks to the support Mockingbird provides, 70 children have lived in families with a greater degree of stability, as a result of the lower number of breakdowns Mockingbird provides, meaning more of Surrey’s children can grow up with the security they deserve and with Surrey carers.

Clare Curran, Cabinet Member for Children and Families said: “It is fantastic to see the Mockingbird Family Model go from strength to strength, which speaks true to our ambition In Surrey that no one is left behind. We are determined to do everything we can to make life easier for those who need us and to keep our children rooted in the county. We want all children in Surrey to be able to reach their full potential and fostering provides safe, secure and loving homes for those who can’t live with their own families. I encourage anyone who feels that they could open their heart and home to children in the community, to find out more about fostering in Surrey.”

A Surrey Mockingbird foster carer said: “When invited to apply to be satellite carers for the Mockingbird scheme we envisaged a support group, but it really is so much more. It feels as if you are part of an extended family and the children seem to love meeting up with the other children and their families. It’s really nice that the group activities include the whole family and even if our teenage kids sometimes don’t want to take part they can’t moan about not being invited..!”.

‘Here in Surrey Mockingbird is a game changer, both for our children and our foster carers and we’re so proud of everything our three constellations have achieved’, says Carol Norrington, Fostering Service Manager at Surrey County Council.

‘Our Mockingbird foster carers feel supported and we are seeing an increase in the retention of foster carers because of it. If you are interested in becoming a foster carer with us, please get in touch. We welcome people from all backgrounds, of all different ages, genders, ethnicities, no matter your relationship status or sexual orientation, so if you think you can make a difference to children’s lives please get in touch.’

Not only is the Mockingbird model beneficial to children and their foster carers, who are supported in providing the best possible care to their young people; it is also a cost-effective, sustainable model of foster care, with greater success in caring for children than other existing fostering models.

To find out more about fostering in Surrey, visit: Fostering – Surrey County Council (surreycc.gov.uk)

Notes to editors

For more information about the Mockingbird programme and The Fostering Network contact media@fostering.net

For more information about fostering and the Mockingbird programme in Surrey call 02085418996

View this short and emotive film about the reason why people foster; ‘Out There’ explores the huge difference foster carers can make to children and young people: ‘Out There’ a short film about Fostering – YouTube

About the Mockingbird Programme

The Fostering Network’s Mockingbird programme is an innovative method of foster care using the Mockingbird Family Model. The model centres on a constellation where one foster home acts as a hub, offering planned and emergency sleepovers and short breaks, advice, training and support to six to 10 satellite households. The programme improves the stability of fostering placements and strengthens the relationships between carers, children and young people, fostering services and birth families.

For more information visit thefosteringnetwork.org.uk/mockingbird, or watch What is Mockingbird? and Mockingbird: a really big family

UK-wide statistics:

  • 18.5 per cent placements would have broken down if they hadn’t been supported by the Mockingbird programme
  • £3.4m total estimated cost avoidance between May 2018 and March 2021
  • 10 per cent of carers would have resigned if they hadn’t been supported by the Mockingbird programme

About The Fostering Network

The Fostering Network is the UK’s leading fostering charity. We are the essential network for fostering, bringing together everyone who is involved in the lives of fostered children. We support foster carers to transform children’s lives and we work with fostering services and the wider sector to develop and share best practice. We work to ensure all fostered children and young people experience stable family life and we are passionate about the difference foster care makes. We champion fostering and seek to create vital change so that foster care is the very best it can be.

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