Announcing a new project: Mockingbird Family Model

04 July 2019

A month ago we announced an ambitious programme of scaling interventions and undertaking research in partnership with the Department for Education, “Supporting Families, Investing in Practice”, to evaluate Family Group Conferences (FGC) and iterations on the Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) models which have shown promising evidence.

Today, we’re excited to announce an expansion of this programme to include new funding for a trial of the Mockingbird Family Model, delivered in the UK by The Fostering Network. Unlike Family Group Conferencing and Family Drug and Alcohol Courts, which work with families prior to care proceedings, the Mockingbird model works with foster carers to ensure that they have sufficient support and respite to enable children to thrive. This is achieved by in some senses ‘simulating’ the traditional extended family environment around the child.

To do this, the Mockingbird model brings brings together clusters of between 6 and 10 ‘satellite homes’ to form a ‘constellation’. The constellation is supported by ‘hub carers’ who provide a range of support to the adults and young people within the constellation.

The model has shown promise in evaluations conducted to date but remains relatively new, having only existed in the UK for 5 years. We are therefore pleased to be able to contribute to the growing evidence base around this programme, which will test the impact of the programme on outcomes including the stability of foster placements, school attendance, and other outcomes.

We are therefore today calling for local authorities who are interested in participating in the project to express their interest before midnight on 2nd August 2019. We will be separately commissioning an independent evaluator to design and conduct the evaluation.

We’re very pleased to be partnering with the DfE and The Fostering Network, and look forward to working with eight local authorities new to the Mockingbird Family Model as they work to form constellations of carers while building the evidence base. As with our other projects, we’ll be reporting as much as we can as soon as we can, so keep an eye out and if you’re interested in taking part, don’t forget to apply.

Update: To support your application, we have put together a list of frequently asked questions.