Barnsley’s extended family model continues to grow

The second constellation of the Fostering Network's Mockingbird Family Model has launched in Barnsley. The two-year funded project has grown from strength to strength and has seen 17 foster carers sign up to the programme since its launch in August.

The council is now recruiting foster carers to take part in the third phase of the model. The fostering service is particularly keen to recruit experienced carers and professionals from a caring background and people who are willing to care for older children. Further information about the roles available can be found on the Mockingbird page.

Foster carers can look forward to social activities with other foster families, including virtual bingo, quiz night and takeaway night. Being a part of an extended family model also provides peer support for foster carers, regular training and sleepovers for children in line with COVID-19 government guidance.

The model aims to improve fostering placements, and strengthen the relationships between carers, young people, and birth families. The fostering service has already seen benefits for foster families in the first constellation:

Rob and Josie, Mockingbird carers, said: "Six months ago we joined the first Mockingbird constellation in Barnsley and definitely think this is the way to go for fostering families. Even though it’s early days for us and pandemic restrictions have made it hard, Mockingbird offers a real sense of community with other fostering families and a greater level of support and training than before. We’re so looking forward to times returning to “normal” so we can build on the relationships we’ve started with our new extended Mockingbird family."

Jo and Viv, Mockingbird Hub Home carers, said: "We've always worked to support children's mental health and wellbeing, and we believe that having the right relationships around us can buffer the effects of trauma. As Mockingbird Hub Home carers, we want to strengthen the connections and relationships between everyone in the constellation. We hope to help children, young people and adults feel part of something special - our own community, where we can be stronger together. We're looking forward to learning to trust each other, to the laughs, the challenges, the celebrations, the new things and the everyday things that being part of an extended family model brings."

Cllr Margaret Bruff, Cabinet Spokesperson for Children’s Services, said: “We're so pleased to see that the Mockingbird Family Model is continuing to be a success. It's great to see the true Barnsley spirit of foster families coming together to provide safe and loving homes for children who need it most. A huge thank you to our foster carers who have provided a real sense of family in a time when we've all experienced an enormous change to our daily lives.

"We always need people to put themselves forward as foster carers to provide safe, stable and loving homes for local children. We currently have a number of older children aged 10 to 18 who need long-term family placements. We’re also searching for families who can care for more than one child and older sibling groups so that brothers and sisters can be kept together."

Anyone who is interested in getting involved can complete an enquiry form online or contact the fostering team on (01226) 775876.

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