Support for Foster Carers
South Tyneside is to become the first council in the North East to run a new scheme aimed at supporting foster carers and improving the lives of looked-after children.
The Mockingbird Family Model, set to be launched in the coming months, is an innovative way of providing foster care. Mockingbird brings foster carers together to be part of a supportive network of six to ten foster families, linked to a central 'hub home'.
The hub carer will be an experienced and skilled foster carer who will provide peer support and be involved in planning and training as well as providing planned breaks and sleepovers if needed for satellite carers and children. The hub also runs regular social events for satellite carers and children, thereby providing support for caregivers and the children they look after. The home hub can also provide a neutral environment for sibling and birth-family visits.
Both the hub and satellite homes will be further supported by a liaison worker from the Council's fostering service.
The Mockingbird model was developed in the United States and is based on the concept of the extended family.
Councillor Moira Smith, Lead Member for Children, Young People and Families, said: "Our network of foster carers do an amazing job and it is only right that we give them all the support they need in their rewarding but often challenging roles.
"The Mockingbird model is all about creating a closer network of support for our foster carers. Research shows it also leads to increased placement stability for looked-after children as well as improving outcomes for both our foster carers and the children in their care."
Another hub is planned in the coming year.
South Tyneside Council already runs a Payment for Skills model which means foster carers are paid an additional fee according to their experience and qualifications in addition to the weekly allowance payments they receive.
Foster carers are as diverse as they children and young people they care for. They come from all walks of life, can be married or single but must be at least 25.
Councillor Smith added: "The pandemic has forced many people to re-think their futures. While fostering is not to be undertaken lightly, the rewards are immense. We want to give all our children and young people the best start in life and supporting our foster carers and the children in their care is one of the best ways of doing that."
To find out more about fostering, visit www.southtyneside.gov.uk/fostering or contact the fostering service on 0191 423 8500 or email email@example.com
To view a video about Mockingbird, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBT9qZP8teI