South Australia expands innovative Mockingbird Family program
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South Australia expands innovative Mockingbird Family program

by Freya Lucas

May 24, 2023

A popular carer support program in South Australia has announced a further expansion, meaning more children and families in foster and kinship care situations will be supported. 


The Department for Child Protection has partnered with Life Without Barriers to deliver the innovative Mockingbird Family program, which creates ‘constellations’ of up to 10 foster or kinship carer families who live in a similar area and act as a support network and community.


The newest constellation, based at Hope Valley in Adelaide’s north-east, was launched recently by Minister for Child Protection Katrine Hildyard. It is the fifth of its kind in South Australia, with other constellations successfully operating in Marino, Fairview Park, Strathalbyn and Lobethal.


“Having visited several ‘constellations’ and ‘home hubs’, it is clear that the deepening of relationships through the hub are of extraordinary benefit to carers and children,” Ms Hildyard said.

These networks are supported by a Life Without Barriers liaison officer and a ‘hub home’ provider who is also a carer. The constellation operates like an extended family and the hub home like a grandparent’s house that is familiar and comfortable.

The ‘hub home’ provider supports children, young people and carers by coordinating monthly gatherings for connection and training and supporting family relationships. This innovative program helps provide stability for children and young people and care and respite for carers by fellow carers.


“This peer-support model has significantly benefited foster carers and children and young people,” explained Life Without Barriers Director of Child, Youth and Family Services in SA, Simone Mather.


“It essentially acts as an extended family, with multiple family units coming together to support one another. The wrap-around approach offers a greater sense of safety, support and stability and children remain connected to their community.”

Recent research by Flinders University has highlighted the early positive success of the program in increasing support for carers and keeping siblings connected in South Australia.

A sixth constellation is expected to launch soon. To learn more about the program, please see here. 

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