New South Tyneside foster care system aims for happy families

A new model of foster care in South Tyneside aims to improve the support for carers and enhance the lives of looked-after children.

Tuesday, 21st September 2021, 4:14 pm
Cllr Adam Ellison with members of the Fostering team.

Council bosses have introduced the ‘Mockingbird’ fostering model – which builds on the concept of the extended family.

The model uses the idea of one foster home – experienced carers – acting as a hub, offering advice, training and support to six satellite households.

First pioneered in America, Mockingbird has been proven to help both foster carers and the children they care for by building strong relationships with all the others on the group – like an extended family.

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Cllr Adam Ellison with Mockingbird foster carer Richard Rattenbury.

Civil servant Richard Rattenbury and his wife Becky Hawdon are the first people to take on the role of hub carers.

The couple, who have looked after more than 17 foster children over the past 11 years, will be on hand to share their advice with other carers and their home will be available for sleepovers for any of the 13 foster children in the satellite groups.

Richard, 42, said: “I think this model is a great idea and badly needed. Fostering is the best job I’ve ever done but it can be a rollercoaster at times.

"We get great support from fostering officers but it’s always good to have other people around who truly understand what you are experiencing. By being hub carers, we can provide a listening ear to both carers and children, almost as an extended family.”

“The more support foster carers have, the better the chances of successful placements and of keeping siblings together. It’s a win-win all round and we are absolutely committed to making a success of it.”

Cllr Adam Ellison, lead member for children, young people and families, said: “Mockingbird is about empowering foster families to support one another in a meaningful way through their shared network.

“I am delighted to see South Tyneside launching this model, and am confident that this will have significant benefits to our young people and their foster carers. I look forward to seeing Mockingbird develop.”

To find out more about fostering, vgo to contact the fostering service on 0191 423 8500 or email [email protected]