20 September 2022

Life Without Barriers and The Department for Child Protection (DCP) has officially launched a new MOCKINGBIRD FAMILY™ Constellation in The Hills region in Adelaide.

The Mockingbird programme was created to bring community to children in care and their foster families (including kinship carers) by creating an “extended family”.

This micro community created focuses on the individual needs of its children and carers by ensuring carers are skilled, supported and confident in providing the best care for children and young people.

Simone Mather, Director of Child, Youth and Family Services (SA) for Life Without Barriers said the MOCKINGBIRD FAMILY™ program is new to South Australia.

“Mockingbird is a wonderful program where foster carers come together in a community (called constellations) to support each other which replicates the support that all families and young people need to thrive,” Mrs Mather said.

“It creates a constellation of 6 to 10 satellite fostering families who are supported by 1 Hub Home Provider, that is operated by an experienced foster carer, offering planned and emergency sleepovers, advice, training, and peer support.

The MOCKINGBIRD FAMILY™ model has shown to increase carer retention, and satisfaction, alleviate the workload for caseworkers and provide better options for keeping siblings together.

Stacy Baldwin, Hub Home Provider of the Adelaide Hills MOCKINGBIRD FAMILY™ Constellation said her family decided to become part of the program because as carers, she and her husband understood the importance of having a community to raise a child.

“Peer support as a foster parent is huge. At times, you can feel really isolated as a carer but having a community of people who understand what you’re going through and are there to support you makes all the difference,” Mrs Baldwin said.

“Opening the new constellation in The Hills is such an exciting journey for us, we are really looking forward to seeing how we can work together and lean on each other to get the best outcomes for the kids in our care.”

The Mockingbird Family constellations support 20 carer families across South Australia.

Kate Teekens, a MOCKINGBIRD FAMILY™ Liaison Officer at Life Without Barriers said Life Without Barriers plans to launch another three constellations across the Adelaide region between now and June 30.

“The thing I really love about the MOCKINGBIRD FAMILY™ model is that it uses the concept of it takes a village to raise a child,” Ms Teekens said.

“We would encourage carers, foster care families or anyone interested in foster care to reach out to find out how you can be involved.”

The MOCKINGBIRD FAMILY™ program is currently in operation with Life Without Barriers in the southern, north-eastern, and now, the Hills region in South Australia. There are also two constellations operating in NSW.

Department for Child Protection Chief Executive Cathy Taylor said the MOCKINGBIRD FAMILY™ program, which receives state government funding, was helping create meaningful relationships between carers and family members.

“The program has gone from strength to strength in South Australia since it began in Adelaide’s southern suburbs in September 2021,” she said.

“It has helped carers access new peer support networks and allowed children to build their friendship circles and forge relationships with other trusted adults.”

“It’s been fantastic to see the connection, information and emotional support being shared.”

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