Evaluation of the Mockingbird programme

Evaluation of The Fostering Network’s Mockingbird programme, as part of the Department for Education's Supporting Families: Investing in Practice programme


Quasi-experimental evaluation / In progress

Estimated completion

November 2022

Focus areas

Children & families, Foster carers

Delivered by

The Fostering Network

Evaluated by

The Rees Centre, University of Oxford

Key Figures

Local authorities 10

The evaluation of the Mockingbird programme is part of the Department for Education (DfE) funded Supporting Families: Investing in Practice programme, which is expanding and rolling out promising interventions that came through the DfE’s Innovation Programme. 

The Mockingbird programme is delivered by The Fostering Network. It is an innovative method of foster care using the Mockingbird Family Model, which is an extended family model that provides sleepovers and short breaks, peer support, regular joint planning and training, and social activities. The programme aims to improve the stability of fostering placements and strengthens the relationships between carers, children and young people, fostering services and birth families.

The Fostering Network will work with 7 new DfE-funded sites, to support the roll-out, implementation and delivery of the Mockingbird programme. What Works for Children’s Social Care have appointed the Rees Centre at Oxford University to conduct an independent impact evaluation of the model. 

The Rees Centre’s evaluation aims to assess the impact of the Mockingbird programme on placement stability (as measured by the rate of unplanned placement endings), on foster carer retention (as measured by the rate of de-registration of foster carers), and on changes in wellbeing of children in care (as measured by the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire).

This evaluation will follow a quasi-experimental design, which plans to use coarsened exact matching and difference-in-difference statistical techniques to compare Mockingbird participants to a matched comparison group.

The Rees centre will also conduct a light-touch process evaluation, to complement the work that The Fostering Network is currently doing to understand more about the implementation of the programme, and will lead on a cost-benefit analysis to focus on any monetisable outcomes.

The evaluation will run until May 2023, when a final report will be published. 

The seven new sites funded to roll-out the Mockingbird programme, taking part in this evaluation are:

  • Barnsley Council;
  • Cheshire East Council;
  • Sheffield City Council;
  • South Tyneside Council;
  • Wakefield Council;
  • Warrington Borough Council;
  • Together4Children Regional Permanency Partnership (Shropshire Council, Staffordshire County Council, Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Telford & Wrekin Council).