Third Sector Awards: Big Impact Award - The Fostering Network

Awarded to a project that has had a substantial impact on national or international life

Who was the aim of the project?

The Fostering Network’s Mockingbird programme aims to improve the stability of fostering placements and strengthen the relationships between foster carers, children and young people, fostering services and birth families.

The Fostering Network's goal was to transform children and young people's experiences of care, and to create vital support systems for the families and professionals who make foster care work, finding new ways to reduce the risks of children's placements breaking down, and of foster carers resigning.

What was the project’s approach?

One foster home acts as a hub, offering sleepovers and short breaks, advice, training and support to six to 10 satellite households, forming a “constellation”. The hub home carers build relationships with all those in the constellation, empowering families to support each other and overcome problems before they escalate.

The constellation also builds links with other families important to children's lives, such as birth families and families caring for their siblings, as well as to the wider community which can provide enhanced opportunities to learn, develop and succeed.

Reacting quickly to challenges posed by the pandemic, the team has worked with constellations to find new ways of continuing a high level of peer support and community ethos - from digital training and social activities, to delivering Easter eggs to children's doorsteps.

What did it achieve?

As of May 2020, there are 38 Mockingbird sites across the UK and these constellations support over 1,500 children and adults in 380 hub and satellite homes.

Over 12 months 115 children and young people whose placements were at risk of breaking down experienced improved stability and avoided an unplanned ending. An additional five children and young people were prevented from entering a residential home, while 87 foster carer resignations were avoided through support from the programme.

What did the judges say?

A fantastic and innovative project, bringing real change and with demonstrable impact. This is a sea-change in the way foster care is delivered.”

Highly commended

User Voice


MSO, Studio Republic & LiveWire Sport

The National Emergencies Trust

Young Scot

Dingley's Promise

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in
RSS Feed

Third Sector Insight

Sponsored webcasts, surveys and expert reports from Third Sector partners