County Council launches new fostering service model in Hertfordshire

Published: 18 Jun 2018


Foster carers in Hertfordshire will receive an even wider network of support, thanks to a new initiative.

The Mockingbird Family Model, a new and different way of supporting foster carers and the children they look after, was launched by Hertfordshire County Council’s fostering service on Sunday.

It creates an extended family community designed to support, develop and retain quality foster families that can meet the needs of the children and young people who are looked after.

The new initiative has been made possible following a successful bid for funding from the DfE last year. The first hub has been set up in Hemel Hempstead, and the model will be rolled out to other locations in the county over the next two years.

Cabinet member for Children’s Services, Teresa Heritage, who was present at the launch, said: “This is a really exciting initiative. It will contribute to ensuring that children in our care have the same opportunities as we want for our own children; the opportunity to develop safe relationships across a group of trusted adults, to make friendships with children of different ages who may have had similar experiences to their own and to enjoy the benefits of belonging within a wider ‘family’ group.”

To this end, we have great hope that this new model of creating a wider support network has the potential to improve placement stability, safety and permanency for children and young people in care.”

Foster carers and children will be supported by a central hub which will be the home of an experienced foster carer. The hub will offer peer support, both practical and emotional, to the fostering families who will meet socially at least once a month, to engage in a child-focused activity.

The first hub will see carers Jools Newman and Ed Gibson, supporting between six and ten satellite families. Jools and Ed hosted a relaxed ‘garden party’ to launch the Mockingbird Family Model. It was evident that those important relationships, both between the children and between their foster carers, are already starting to form.

Jools, who is ready to embrace the challenge, is proud to see that Mockingbird is already working. She said: “Like any parent, sometimes a foster carer needs to talk to someone who understands the challenges. This week I supported two fostering families, offered a friendly hug, a listening ear and a cup of tea.”

Ed is a keen boxer and he hopes to use his skills as a qualified instructor to encourage children to take up physical activity and reduce screen time. And of course their family dog Launa is a big part of mockingbird, as recognized by Ed, who said, “I often find that children use the opportunity of a dog walk to open up about their experiences.”

Each month, Hertfordshire County Council receives an average of 55 requests for new foster placements, with many being requests to place children over the age of 10 years, sibling groups and those with more complex needs.

Anyone who becomes a foster carer with Hertfordshire County Council will receive unrivalled support every step of the way, including through preparation and ongoing training.

Please contact the fostering and adoption team if you would like more information on 0800 917 0925, email fostering.recruitment@hertfordshire.gov.uk or visit www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/fostering .

 

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