The Mockingbird Family Model (MFM)
About This Program
Target Population: Children, adolescents, and foster families
For children/adolescents ages: 0 – 21
The MFM is a foster care service delivery model designed to improve the safety, well-being, and permanency of children, adolescents, and families in foster care. The MFM is grounded in the assumption that families with access to resources and support networks are best equipped to provide a stable, loving, and culturally supportive environment for children and adolescents.
It revolves around the concept of the MFM Constellation, which intentionally establishes a sense of extended family and community. In each MFM Constellation, six to ten families (foster, kinship, foster-to-adopt, and/or birth families) live in close proximity to a central, licensed foster or respite care family (Hub Home), whose role is to provide support. The support provided through the Hub Home includes assistance in navigating systems, peer support for children and parents, impromptu and regularly scheduled social activities, planned respite nearly 24 hours a day/7 days a week, and crisis respite as needed.
The program goals of the Mockingbird Family Model (MFM) are:
- Foster and kinship parents receive support in their roles as caregivers through readily available respite care, peer support, training, and information
- Children and adolescents experience significantly fewer placements
- Siblings remain together or near each other in placements and increased continuity of care
- Children and adolescents remain connected to their culture, heritage, and spiritual affiliations
- Children and adolescents thrive socially, emotionally, and academically with support from an ‘extended family’ network of care providers
- Children and adolescents with a history of multiple placements have an opportunity to manage attachment issues and services through the Hub Home either to prevent crisis or to increase stabilization as well as to re-enter the placement after a crisis or runaway episode
- Permanency is prioritized and supported, whether through reunification, adoption, guardianship, or connection with a chosen family
- Biological families can participate in the MFM Constellation micro-community, with the goal of rebuilding and/or increasing the strength of family bonds, skill development, and future relationships
- Children and adolescents build lasting peer and community connections which serve as a protective factor mitigating trauma impact
- System navigation with the help of readily available, appropriate, and meaningful accessory services provided by or coordinated through the Hub Home and/or Host Agency. These include mental health counseling, tutoring and homework support, and social and recreational activities
The essential elements of the Mockingbird Family Model (MFM) include the following:
- Constellation: Hub & Satellite Homes
- The MFM Constellation model is composed of Hub and Satellite Home families.
- Hub Home and Satellite Home families are supported by the Host Agency to build a micro-community based on an extended family concept.
- Hub Home and Satellite Home families are supported by the Host Agency to focus on the health, safety, growth, and permanence of participating children and adolescents.
- Child Welfare System (CWS)
- CWS coordinates with Hub Home and Satellite Home families to schedule shared planning meetings and other similar meetings (e.g., family team meetings, family group conferences, family decision-making meetings, etc.).
- CWS assigns specific social worker(s) to Constellation children, adolescents, and families.
- Hub Home calendar includes a set time for regular meetings between the assigned child or adolescent CWS social worker and Satellite Home families.
- Hub Home and Satellite Home caregivers arrange with the Host Agency for the use of the Hub Home as an appropriate living arrangement if a placement crisis or disruption occurs for a child or adolescent in a Satellite Home.
- Host Agency
- The Host Agency informs the CWS of the establishment of the MFM Constellation and the support systems offered by MFM to participating children, adolescents, and Satellite families.
- The Host Agency ensures the Hub Home has appropriate health, safety, and treatment information on all children and adolescents in the Constellation eligible for respite, including an appropriate mix of children/adolescents.
- The Host Agency ensures all participating Hub and Satellite Homes are licensed and in good standing.
- The Host Agency provides case management and other required services independent of MFM.
- The Host Agency gathers or provides oversight to the collection of data about the Constellation on a periodic basis in order to track progress towards goals and objectives, and provides feedback to The Mockingbird Society.
- The Host Agency exercises reasonable and secondary efforts to retain children and adolescents in the Constellation during placement disruption.
- The Host Agency provides oversight, feedback, coaching, mentoring, and training to increase the experience level of Hub and Satellite Homes (e.g., training in permanency support, skill building in problem solving, conflict resolution, birth family visitations, cultural competency, working with traumatized children and adolescents, etc.).
- The Host Agency provides training and support to prevent Hub Home burnout.
- The Host Agency provides mandated reporting guidelines to Hub and Satellite Home caregivers.
- The Host Agency establishes the guidelines and provides support to the Hub Home for birth family visits with children and adolescents.
- The Host Agency communicates with The Mockingbird Society when a child’s or adolescent’s placement changes outside the Constellation.
- The Host Agency communicates with The Mockingbird Society when a Hub or Satellite Home caregiver’s status changes.
- In a manner in accordance with licensing regulations, the Host Agency ensures all information pertaining to Constellation children and adolescents, including medication information, is stored in an appropriate, confidential manner in the Hub Home.
- The Host Agency participates in periodic Project Leadership Team meetings convened by The Mockingbird Society.
- The Host Agency makes every effort to place siblings in the same MFM Constellation when it is not possible to place siblings in the same foster home within the Constellation.
- The Host Agency staff participates periodically in monthly Constellation meetings.
- Hub Home Skills & Capacity
- The Hub Home is the ‘switchboard,’ coordinator and energy source of the Constellation necessary to preserve placements, strengthen relationships, nurture permanency, and provide support to Satellite Home families.
- The Hub Home provides Satellite Home families, children, and adolescents with the support to preserve placements.
- The Hub Home provides Satellite Home families, children and adolescents with the support to strengthen relationships.
- Hub Home parent(s) have the demonstrated skills and experience to serve as resources and provide peer support to Satellite Home families.
- The Hub Home is in close proximity to Satellite Homes to ensure utilization of services and to promote connectedness.
- The Hub Home is fully licensed by the state and/or Child Placement Agency.
- Hub Home parents are available nearly 24 hours a day/7 days a week to provide planned respite.
- Hub Home parents are comfortable talking with children and adolescents.
- Hub Home parents are comfortable talking with adults.
- Hub Home parents are skilled in interacting with a group of children and adolescents.
- Hub Home parents are committed to involving all Satellite parents in the Hub Home and Constellation activities.
- Hub Home parents are available to provide transportation to children, adolescents, and families to services activities and events.
- Hub Home parents are committed to providing a welcoming environment for birth-family or sibling visits.
- The Hub Home has two open beds that are available for respite use by the Constellation.
- The Hub Home participates in Project Leadership Team meetings convened periodically by The Mockingbird Society.
- The Hub Home documents on a monthly basis the services provided to the Constellation and reports to the Host Agency and/or The Mockingbird Society.
- Project Size
- A Constellation consists of six to ten Satellite Homes for each Hub Home.
- Constellations provide care for six to eighteen children/adolescents (number of children/adolescents within a Constellation depends upon intensity of needs/acuity level of participating children and adolescents).
- Cultural Relevancy
- Hub Home and Satellite Home families are sensitive to, comfortable with, and/or reflect the culture and ethnicity of the children and adolescents being served.
- Anti-racism and anti-bias practices are embedded within the Constellation.
- Project Services
- The Hub Home provides an adequate number of planned and spontaneous opportunities for contact between Hub Home and Satellite Home families, children, and adolescents to promote active, healthy relationships and to create a micro-community.
- Hub Home parents provide regular ‘three-level’ check-ins with Satellite Home caregivers.
- The Hub Home hosts monthly Constellation meetings.
- The Hub Home hosts periodic social events for Satellite Home families, children, and adolescents.
- The Hub Home sponsors training, and provides mentoring and coaching/peer support activities for Satellite Home caregivers.
- The Hub Home coordinates access to enhanced recreational and cultural opportunities for Satellite Home children and adolescents.
- The Hub Home is receptive to and encourages community partnerships that provide access to services (e.g., mental health counseling, health care services, academic support, etc.).
- The Host Agency, Hub Home, and Satellite Home families understand, are trained in, and subscribe to the concept of normalizing respite care as an opportunity to develop and preserve healthy relationships, placements, sense of community, and permanency.
- Planned respite is available nearly 24 hours a day/7 days a week.
- The Hub Home and the Host Agency have an effective mechanism to communicate the Hub Home’s availability and nonavailability for respite and alternative respite options when the Hub Home is unavailable.
- Satellite Home families contact the Hub Home directly to arrange for planned and crisis respite (unless this practice conflicts with Host Agency practice, in which case the Host Agency policy takes precedence).
- Hub Home families maintain a Constellation calendar of planned respite requests (e.g., for overnight care as well as scheduled respite for several hours or a specific activity, etc.) for Constellation children and adolescents.
- Satellite Home caregivers and/or children or adolescents can initiate respite.
- The Hub Home can accommodate longer-stay respite (placement preservation, relationship pacing, Satellite family vacation, etc.).
- The Hub Home provides crisis respite with very little advanced notice required.
- The Hub Home provides the capacity for safe re-entry space for adolescents on the run.
- All information pertaining to Constellation children and adolescents is stored in an appropriately confidential manner in the Hub Home (including medication information).
- Peer Support & Interaction
- Satellite Home parents meet with, share information with, and provide peer-to-peer support to other Satellite parents at monthly Constellation meetings and other Constellation events.
- Hub Home parents utilize the MFM-recommended three-level approach for communications by phone or e-mail with Satellite Home families (e.g., bi-weekly contact, weekly contact, or daily contact), depending upon the needs of the children/adolescents and families.
- Hub Home parents support Satellite Home parents to plan Constellation events, including providing input and ideas.
- Hub Home parents support the implementation of the child’s or adolescent’s permanency plan (i.e., are familiar with the child’s or adolescent’s Individual Service and Safety Plan, provide input to the court via the Individual Service and Security Plan, etc.)
- The Hub Home provides support to birth and future families in joining the Constellation, particularly to support the reunification and transition process.
The Mockingbird Family Model (MFM) directly provides services to children/adolescents and addresses the following:
- In foster care
Services Involve Family/Support Structures:
This program involves the family or other support systems in the individual's treatment: The MFM provides structural and other support for all caregivers including biological, kinship, and foster parents.
The program is an ongoing service that continually provides support and care to the children, adolescents, and families affected by the foster care system.
The program is designed to be a fundamental foster care service delivery method. As such, there is no program length, but instead it is a model for delivering ongoing services to children, adolescent, and families affected by the foster care system. The length of stay in foster care is largely determined by the courts, child welfare system social workers, and specific family circumstances. The program is designed to ensure that while children and adolescents are in foster care they are safe and engaged in well-being activities as well as actively moving toward permanency.
This program is typically conducted in a(n):
- Foster/Kinship Care
This program does not include a homework component.
Resources Needed to Run Program
The typical resources for implementing the program are:
The only additional resource necessary to implement the MFM is the Hub Home provider. Hub Homes should be reimbursed for expenses related to high-speed internet access and any additional insurance liabilities associated with their activity and role as an MFM Hub Home.
Education and Training
Prerequisite/Minimum Provider Qualifications
While there is no minimum educational requirement, Hub Home and foster/kinship homes need appropriate licenses (e.g., foster parent license) and subsequent trainings and certifications to remain in good standing. The Host Agency must hold all required licenses and certifications required to supervise and monitor foster parents (e.g., Child Placing Agency license).
Education and Training Resources
There is a manual that describes how to implement this program , and there is training available for this program.
- Degale Cooper, MSW, Director of Family Programs
The Mockingbird Society
phone: (206) 407-2133
Training is obtained:
This can vary and will be determined on a case-by-case basis..
Number of days/hours:
The duration of initial training and support varies depending on the scope/size of implementation. The amount of support Host Agencies and Constellations receive is decided upon in the initial planning process.
Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research
This program has been reviewed and it was determined that this program lacks the type of published, peer-reviewed research that meets the CEBC criteria for a scientific rating of 1 – 5. Therefore, the program has been given the classification of "NR - Not able to be Rated." It was reviewed because it was identified by the topic expert as a program being used in the field, or it is being marketed and/or used in California with children receiving services from child welfare or related systems and their parents/caregivers. Some programs that are not rated may have published, peer-reviewed research that does not meet the above stated criteria or may have eligible studies that have not yet been published in the peer-reviewed literature. For more information on the "NR - Not able to be Rated" classification, please see the Scientific Rating Scale.
Currently, there are no published, peer-reviewed research studies for The Mockingbird Family Model (MFM).
Multi-year evaluation study conducted in partnership with the Northwest Institute for Children and Families at the School of Social Work at University of Washington. Retrieved from http://www.mockingbirdsociety.org/index.php/component/content/article/15-mfm-links/47-reports-a-evaluations
Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: October 2013
Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: August 2016
Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: May 2012