The Department of Education has pledged to expand a successful fostering project to 10 new locations.
The ‘Mockingbird Family Model’, delivered by The Fostering Network in partnership with the Department for Education, brings foster families together in groups, centred around one experienced foster carer who lives nearby who acts as a mentor.
The programme, which was piloted in England in 2015-2016 in eight fostering services, builds a networks between foster families which they can rely on in difficult moments, in the same way that families often rely on the support of extended family, friends or neighbours, to help them cope with challenging behaviour or problems caused by trauma before they escalate.
A government spokesman said the model will be expanded into Sheffield, East Cheshire, Wakefield, Warrington, South Tyneside, Barnsley, Staffordshire, Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin, and Stoke-on-Trent as part of the Department for Education’s Supporting Families; Investing in Practice programme. And will be funded using the £84 million secured in last year’s Autumn Budget.
Kevin Williams, chief executive at The Fostering Network, welcomed the news. He said:
‘We’re delighted that the government is showing confidence in the Mockingbird programme and the difference it is making in the lives of fostered children and young people, as well as the foster families caring for them.
‘This extra funding will allow us to bring the benefits of Mockingbird’s extended family model to many more foster families across England and to get further insight into the impact of the programme.’
Government bosses say the project will offer hundreds of foster families practical and emotional support and advice, helping them tackle the day-to-day challenges of taking in a vulnerable young person from care and create a stable environment for them to live in.
Education secretary Gavin Williamson said:
‘Foster parents give stability to children who have often experienced nothing but trauma and chaos at home, giving them opportunities that most of us take for granted. The unique circumstances they face in becoming a new family means they need daily support from people who understand the challenges, offering them much-needed advice and respite when they feel isolated or alone.
‘Expanding the Mockingbird Family Model into new areas builds on a programme we know has real value to foster families, helping them to form vital communities so that parents can rely on one another through tough times and vulnerable children get the safe, supportive home life they deserve.’
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