Expansion of Pioneering Fostering Model
An innovative fostering model is proving so successful it is to be expanded again in South Tyneside.
The Mockingbird model, which is delivered by leading fostering charity The Fostering Network and is based on the concept of the extended family, will see its third 'constellation' launched next week.
First pioneered in America, Mockingbird model has been shown to be effective in helping foster carers overcome challenges and in improving the lives of foster children by building positive links with other families in the constellation.
The constellations are led by a hub home foster carer who offers vital peer support and guidance to 'satellite carers' alongside social activities to strengthen relationships and permanence.
The hub carer in the third constellation is South Shields woman Michelle Deeley who is a single mam with a nine-year-old daughter.
Michelle is care experienced, having spent time in a children's home and in foster homes as a child and is keen to give something back.
She said: "When I was 16 I was placed with the most amazing foster carer who became my mam and is nana to all the foster children I have cared for.
"The fact that she gave me a chance made me want to give other children the same opportunity I had.
"As I have been in care myself I feel I have a different level of understanding compared to people who haven't had that experience and that enables me to connect with foster children well and empathise with them."
Michelle was one of the satellite carers in the first constellation in South Tyneside which allowed her to care for a sibling group of three.
She said: "Mockingbird is fantastic. Having the extended support made such a big difference, particularly in emergency situations. Now I just want to give back. I'll miss not having any foster children of my own to care for, but by being a hub carer for South Tyneside I will be able to help more than just one family."
The first Mockingbird model in South Tyneside was for young children while the second was for teenagers. The latest model will be for children of mixed ages as well as those with disabilities.
Thanks to the community support Mockingbird provides, 26 South Tyneside children in the first two constellations have been provided with secure and stable families, and the breakdown of relationships has been avoided, meaning more of the Borough's children can grow up with the stability they deserve. It has also meant that more groups of siblings have been able to stay together.
Michelle added: "I would have loved to have been able to talk to other children in care when I was growing up. I think being a hub carer for this latest model will be more challenging but I'm determined to make it work."
Councillor Adam Ellison, Lead Member for Children, Young People and Families, said: "The Mockingbird model has proven to be very effective in South Tyneside. By giving our foster children and their carers a unique extended family, who can share their advice and experiences, we are able to provide more stable placements.
"We know that fostering brings huge rewards but it can also be challenging. Mockingbird has played a crucial role in helping more carers continue their fostering journey as well as helping the children they care for."
South Tyneside Council is always keen to hear from people interested in fostering. To find out more about fostering, visit www.southtyneside.gov.uk/fostering or contact the fostering service on 0191 423 8500 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
A video about the Mockingbird model can be seen at https://youtu.be/VbA3v7fd7Wo