Following the success of South Australia’s first MOCKINGBIRD FAMILY™ Constellation which was launched in September 2021 in Adelaide’s south, Life Without Barriers is set to launch a second Constellation in the city’s north-eastern suburbs.
Image: Left to right: Simone Mather, CYF Director SA, Kristy Smith, SA Carer Ambassador and Southern Home Hub Provider, Kerry Currey, CYF Program Manager, Avril Hale, CYF Operations Manager, Kate Teekens, MOCKINGBIRD FAMILY™ Liaison Officer.
The roll-out of MOCKINGBIRD FAMILY™ Constellations in South Australia (SA) is part of a twelve-month pilot in partnership with, and funded by, the Department for Child Protection which aims to provide Carers and children with a strong support network in their local community.
What is MOCKINGBIRD FAMILY™?
MOCKINGBIRD FAMILY™ is an innovative, evidence informed foster care model which unites six to 10 Foster and/or Kinship Carer homes called ‘Satellite Families’ in a local community called a ‘Constellation’, supported by an experienced Carer who takes on the role of Hub Home Provider.
The Hub Home Provider is an employed team member who supports other Foster Carers through providing connection, information, training and emotional support. The Hub Home Providers for our new constellation in the north-east are experienced Life Without Barriers’ Foster Carers Debraha (Deb) Bills and Adam Price.
The Constellation is like the extended family and the Hub Home is like a grandparent’s house that is familiar and comfortable. Each child in the Constellation is welcomed by the Hub Home Provider for sleep overs and social events, or if there is difficulty at home and the child and/or Carers could benefit from a break. MOCKINGBIRD FAMILY™ also promotes ongoing meaningful relationships with parents, brothers and sisters and other family members.
Life Without Barriers South Australia Director Simone Mather says keeping sibling groups together, within close geographical location of Constellations, and helping children and young people to connect with their culture is at the heart of the program.
“We have been supporting SA Carers for close to 15 years now and we are really excited about this new model. It’s really about structuring supports around Foster and Kinship Carers in a new way."
"It’s about an extended family network.”
Following the launch of our first constellation last year, Hub Home Provider and Carer Ambassador Kristy Smith said;
“Gregg and I feel great joy and satisfaction in having the opportunity to use our life experience and knowledge to help others.
"We are currently limited in how many children we can provide full-time care for, but we’ve discovered by broadening our network through involvement and commitment to MOCKINGBIRD FAMILY™, we can positively impact far more children’s lives.”
The benefits to our southern Constellation members were evident within the first month. By offering empathy and ideas to Carers and building relationships with the children in their care, Kristy and Gregg found the model was not only helping Carers to feel connected and supported, but was also supporting children to experience the benefits of additional healthy relationships.
This positive impact is further highlighted by feedback received from Carers in the south Constellation, which included:
“It has opened up a bigger social network for our two children…they have gained instant friendships with other caregivers children. My Husband and I have found a bigger friendship and support group that we can relate to.” – Colleen
“We feel like we have found our ‘village’ to surround us and help raise our kids. We have made some amazing friends who we know will always be there for us and our kids. Recently when we were in crisis, it was so reassuring to know we had someone to ring who understood and was willing to be there for us by taking the kids for a few hours to give us time to debrief and just breathe.” – Paula
“Since joining MOCKINGBIRD FAMILY™, I have met wonderful, child focused Carers. Together to celebrate each other’s special moments and support each other through the difficult times. Our precious children have become great friends and have an amazing time when we all get together socially.“ - Madeline.
Carer Ambassadors leading the way
Like our southern Constellation which is led by Life Without Barriers’ Carer Ambassador Kristy and her husband Gregg, the new Constellation has another Carer Ambassador in Deb at the helm with her partner Adam.
Carer Ambassadors are skilled Foster Carers recruited as paid ambassadors to share their experience and connect with the community to help raise awareness about fostering and encourage others to find out if fostering is right for them.
To become an Ambassador, Carers must have at least two years’ experience as a Foster Carer, experience creating community connections and a passion for fostering and working with families from diverse backgrounds.
In SA, we have three Carer Ambassadors, Deb, Kristy and Glen Davie, each with their own unique fostering journey, who actively promote fostering in their local communities. Their role includes:
Identifying ways to build foster care awareness;
Representing Life Without Barriers at community events and information sessions;
Talking to the media about foster caring;
Answering questions from prospective new Carers;
Becoming part of the Life Without Barriers team as an employee.
We are excited to see Deb and Adam in action as our new Hub Home Providers helping other Carers to provide the vital support the children in their care need.
For more information about our SA Carer Ambassadors and an in-depth insight into their personal foster care journeys, download their flyers below in the resource section.
If you want to find out more about MOCKINGBIRD FAMILY™ watch this short video!
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