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The Mockingbird Programme supports 32 looked after children and their foster carers in Warrington.

Children and young people in foster care in Warrington benefit hugely from the Mockingbird programme. The award-winning, sustainable foster care model sees a constellation of fostering households set up in a similar arrangement to that of an extended family, structured around the support and relationships that provides.

Warrington Borough Council introduced the programme, which in the UK is delivered by leading fostering charity The Fostering Network, in 2020. Since then, the model has gone from strength to strength.

The three constellations in Warrington are each led by a hub home foster carer who offers vital peer support and guidance, alongside social activities and sleepovers to strengthen relationships and permanence. Across the UK there are approaching 90 constellations and The Fostering Network is recommending the Mockingbird programme expands to all local authorities, so this number should continue to grow.

Thanks to the community support Mockingbird provides, 32 children have been provided with secure and stable families, and the breakdown of relationships has been avoided, meaning more of Warrington’s children can grow up with the stability they deserve.

The Mockingbird programme is both beneficial to children and young people, as well as foster carers, who are supported to be able to provide the best possible care. It is also a cost-effective, sustainable model of foster care, with more capacity to care for children than other existing fostering models.

Gill and Terry are Mockingbird satellite foster carers in Warrington, they said: “We initially didn’t want to join Mockingbird as we are very shy and don’t like new situations, but now, I don’t think we could be without it. It provides advice, fun, lots of laughter, and good friends with wonderful kids. We love being part of the programme, as do we all as a family, even the adults in the house who insist on accompanying us whenever an event is taking place.”

Warrington Borough Council’s Director of Children’s Social Care, Amanda Amesbury, said: “I am so proud of our Warrington Mockingbird programme – a real game changer for fostering. We now have three constellations up and running, and they are all achieving great things for our children. They provide children with additional trusted adult relations, stability in their foster homes, and help us to retain our excellent foster carers. We currently have 32 children benefitting from the support of Mockingbird and our vision is to grow this model even further so that more of our children who live with our foster carers will benefit in the future.”

Cabinet member for children’s services, Cllr Sarah Hall, said: “Over the past 18 months, Warrington’s fostering service has been privileged to be part of the Mockingbird scheme, supported by The Fostering Network. The scheme has provided an additional layer of simple but innovative support to our foster carers in Warrington, enabling them to have direct access to experienced foster carers and to have respite care as and when they need it.

“One of the major benefits of the scheme is that our cared for children naturally become part of an extended family who care for and support them, as grandparents, aunts and uncles would. This ensures children and their foster carers are able to build stable, committed, long lasting relationships with each other and their extended network.”