The Mockingbird Family Model

Client: The Fostering Network

Support the pilot of this DfE funded innovative approach to fostering and develop a national platform to engage young people and capture their feedback

A national youth forum - ‘Mockingbird Champions’ - advocating for all young people within the Mockingbird Family Model.

In 2015 we were asked by The Fostering Network to support the inception and implementation of the pilot of Mockingbird Family Model and engage young people in a national platform to capture their feedback about the Mockingbird Family Model.

Mockingbird was funded via the Department for Education’s Children’s Social Care Innovation Fund, a £100m fund for projects to improve children’s social care.

As with all new projects, the success of the programme was based on the impact it created for young people. As this was a pilot project, we were asked to evaluate directly with young people to establish the project’s impact on their lives, in a way that was not conventional consultation, but would be exciting, developmental and fun for them.


We worked with 8 organisations and Local Authorities nationally to plan and facilitate activities across the UK which included:

Working in partnership with a project manager from The Fostering Network, the programme was a success and The Fostering Network were awarded DfE second stage funding to grow the programme.

The Mockingbird Family Model

What is The Mockingbird Family Model?

The Fostering Network’s Mockingbird programme is an innovative method of delivering foster care using an extended family model which provides sleepovers and short breaks, peer support, regular joint planning and training, and social activities. The programme improves the stability of fostering placements and strengthens the relationships between carers, children and young people, fostering services and birth families.

Our Approach

We understand what it is like to develop new approaches to delivering services for young people. Having to capture evidence of programme impact without forcing young people to constantly ‘consult’ and provide ‘feedback’ can be a challenge. We also recognise the important of evidence and the need to gain crucial data, as this is needed to tell us if our service is right for children. We believe there is a balance between implementing a new service and ensuring that we engage young people appropriately. We believe that we should not compromise on the quality of engagement with young people and that such engagement should be for young people meaningful, empowering and enjoyable. This was the essence of our work with The Fostering Network’s, Mockingbird Family Model.

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