Foster carers in Portsmouth are set to benefit from a pioneering new model of fostering which aims to provide additional support to carers and children by replicating an extended family.
This innovative project brings together up to ten foster families to form a constellation. At the heart of each constellation is a hub home where experienced foster carers support all carers and children within the constellation by offering advice, sleepovers and social events.
The Mockingbird Family Model is the first of its kind to be implemented on the south coast. Based on the idea of an extended family, the model seeks to provide stable homes for children and young people, whilst also improving the support that is available for foster carers.
Mockingbird has been shown to help families support each other and overcome challenges. It has also shown significant benefits to the lives of children and young people in care by building positive links with other families in the constellation as well as their own. The new model encourages and builds a community of carers around the children and young people and ensures a continuity of care, with other examples of this model leading to a reduction in moves for children to different foster homes, care leaver homelessness and improving foster carer retention.
Cllr Suzy Horton, Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education, said: “We’re thrilled to be pioneering this model of care in the south coast. Mockingbird will enable us to offer another type of fostering which will create communities around the children and young people in care.
“Even while we’re setting up our first constellation, we are already looking ahead and are keen to start building our next group within Portsmouth.”
The first constellation is ready and will launch officially in January 2021. From January, the hub carers will then get together with the satellite carers and the children regularly for monthly social events, in person or virtually.
Hub home carers, Alison and Lee Dowd, said: “Lee and I have been fostering for almost eight years and we realised this kind of support was needed amongst carers and looked after children. Mockingbird ticked all the boxes to encourage foster carers to support each other and for the children to feel part of an extended family. We are really excited and proud to be in Portsmouth’s first Mockingbird hub.”
The Mockingbird Family Model is just one kind of foster care available. Foster Portsmouth welcomes enquiries from people who would like to know more about becoming a carer. As well as the Mockingbird Family Model, there are also opportunities to foster short-term and long-term, act as a family link and even help a young person to independence with the supported lodgings scheme, which only requires 10 hours a week.