Pioneering fostering project wins UK charity award

This story was published 2 November 2020

Fostered children and young people in North Yorkshire are now benefiting from an award-winning fostering programme.

Boy and girl

Fostering North Yorkshire is part of the Mockingbird programme, run by the UK’s leading fostering charity, the Fostering Network, which has seen off other outstanding projects to win the Big Impact Award at this year’s Third Sector Awards.

Mockingbird uses a pioneering model, which sees a constellation of fostering households set up in a similar structure to that of an extended family.

Through successes such as avoiding relationship breakdowns in fostering households and retaining foster carers who may otherwise have left the role, the programme has seen excellent outcomes. This has included helping fostering services nationally avoid costs of around £3million between May 2018 and March 2020.

North Yorkshire County Councillor Janet Sanderson, Executive Member for Children's Services, said: “We are extremely proud to be a part of the Mockingbird programme, having developed and operated a successful pilot scheme in the Scarborough district for around 18 months.

“We are always looking at new and innovative ways in which to support both our foster carers and the children and young people that they care for. The award is truly deserved for such a fantastic programme and we look forward to continuing great work with them.”

This extended family model provides a high level of stability to children and young people and strengthens relationships between all members of the constellations, including birth families and social workers.

Sally, a Mockingbird foster carer, said: “Mockingbird is perfect for me as the child I foster has made great friends with the other children in our group and he loves to have sleepovers at our hub host’s house. Jan, our hub host, has become like a grandma figure who loves to spoil all the children within the group!

“The group provides great support, there is always someone to call upon to talk through any worries or difficulties that I may have. Regular meetings are great for sharing ideas and supporting each other. During lockdown we had regular Zoom meetings and the children joined in with their own meetings so they could keep in touch with each other, too.”

The Fostering Network’s Head of the Mockingbird programme, Lily Stevens, said: “We are delighted to have won in this category. It is testament to the faith of our funders and partners in a compassionate, sustainable, new way of delivering foster care. It is also speaks volumes about the efforts of everyone involved in the programme.”

Cllr Sanderson added: “At the moment, the need for foster carers across the county is on the increase, so if you would like to make a difference to the lives of local children, Fostering North Yorkshire would be keen to hear from you. All kinds of foster carers are needed, in particular those who could offer a safe and welcoming home to older children and sibling groups.”

Full training and support is provided by locally based social work teams, recently rated Outstanding by Ofsted. Find out more about fostering.