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Foster Care Fortnight

13 - 26 May 2024

Discover Portsmouth's mockingbird programme

Learn how Portsmouth is pioneering the innovative mockingbird model

Children's social care at Portsmouth City Council are celebrating Foster Care Fortnight 2024 and the social workers who support families using the innovative mockingbird model.

Launched in 2021, Portsmouth has pioneered its use. The model sees up to 10 households create their own support networks, through a dedicated foster carer at a 'hub home.'

This approach has led to stronger, more resilient foster families, who are not just supported by professionals, but their own communities who share their own lived experiences.

Discover the professionals who support foster families using this programme, as they share their successes and learnings.

Top questions
  • Why did we choose mockingbird over other models?

    Mockingbird was first introduced to the UK by The Fostering Network as it is built on the concept of extended family relationships. It has also been shown to improve outcomes for children and young people. It was clear the model would be welcomed by its community. The model has been referenced in the government's national care review of children as a success story.

  • What challenges does the mockingbird programme address?

    While support for foster families has always been available in Portsmouth, it was determined that a new model would provide improved outcomes. We know stronger relationships lead to meaningful and long-lasting change. The mockingbird model seeks to address that need by empowering foster carers to work together to create support networks. As a result of mockingbird, feedback has shown that children feel well cared for and enjoy better friendships. The relationships formed as part of mockingbird lead to placement stability for children and young people.

  • What has been the main successes from the programme?

    Foster carers are keen to join the programme as they see the benefits of peer-to-peer support. We have developed five constellations in the past three years and are recognised by the Fostering Network for the work we have achieved. The real success story is the meaningful and tangible relationships which are formed within each constellation with specially trained hub leads who can support families through challenging times.

  • What do we hope to achieve in the future?

    Mockingbird is now fully embedded within Portsmouth as we continue to grow, with more carers and children joining. We have recently celebrated the first anniversary of a fifth constellation.

Mockingbird Constellation Graphic

How does the mockingbird model work?

This innovative programme starts with the creation of a 'constellation' of up to 10 satellite fostering households, offering the relations and support similar to that of an extended family.

At the heart of each ‘constellation’ is a ‘hub home’ where a specifically recruited and trained hub home foster carer offers vital peer support and guidance to all the carers within the constellation, in addition to respite care in the form of sleepovers and social activities, all of which strengthen relationships and permanence.

Photograph of Dave

Meet Tom - Leading the way with mockingbird

"The relationships are stronger between families and foster carers"

Tom is a team leader at Portsmouth City Council and supports families within each mockingbird constellation. His team are responsible for developing hub homes and each constellation. Tom shared his learnings and hopes for the future of the programme.

"When we launched mockingbird, it became clear quite quickly that the connections and relationships that formed between the home hub carers and their satellite carers were really strong and central to the mockingbird model. We also found foster families within each constellation started to connect and support each other".

"As a result of this support, the children tell us that they enjoy the friendships that have formed within mockingbird".

"All foster carers in the constellations have the opportunity to support one another. They share their experiences, training and signpost each other to useful resources".

"Mockingbird has changed how we do things and it has been a delight to be part of that journey."

Photograph of Clare

Meet Jill - Supporting foster families to be their best selves

"The programme builds confidence and support for one another"

Jill is part of the fostering team and works closely with the hub home foster carers. She told us how the model has made a real difference in their community.

"I have been using mockingbird as part of my practice for the last two years. I was working with a brand-new foster carer who was experiencing some challenges. I introduced her to a constellation and the group put their arms around her instantly. That support made all the difference and has built up their confidence too.

"The social aspect of mockingbird is also important as it is used for respite. As the relationship between fosters carers grow, so to does the trust and support, making the transition between carers easier."

Portsmouth's mockingbird model celebrated on Foster Care Fortnight 2024

City's iconic buildings light up to celebrate Foster Care Fortnight 2024

Meet the team: Tom and Jill talk developing hub homes to support foster families

Join the team who are #ProudToBePortsmouth
If you are looking at your next steps, join Portsmouth City Council in children's social care.

Want to become a foster carer in Portsmouth?

Foster Portsmouth is Portsmouth City Council's fostering service that supports people to become home-based carers. Fostering is an incredibly rewarding career with a number of options available to work for you. As well as the personal satisfaction from making a difference to a child’s life, you will benefit from significant support yourself on a 24/7 basis. For more information, visit the Foster Portsmouth website.

More innovations

Mockingbird Constellation Graphic

The 'going home' project

The mockingbird model is just one example of how Portsmouth innovates, to ensure families have the support they need to thrive.

The 'going home' project is another innovation that sees us bringing families together sooner, when the time is right. The project embeds adult safeguarding officers within the family support and safeguarding team.

About Foster Care Fortnight

Mockingbird Constellation Graphic

Foster Care Fortnight is The Fostering Networks annual campaign to raise the profile of fostering and show how foster care transforms lives.

Foster Care Fortnight 2024 takes place from 13 - 26 May. This year's theme is #FosteringMoments, celebrating the moments that define fostering journeys, big and small.