Skip to main content

MOCKINGBIRD FAMILY ™

This program is a way of providing foster care that offers support and mentorship to Oklahoma Human Services Child Welfare Services traditional and kinship homes to create safe and caring environments for children and youth. Child Welfare Services is partnering with The Mockingbird Society, Citizens for Children and Family, Inc, and Arnall Family Foundation to implement MOCKINGBIRD FAMILY™ in Oklahoma.

The evidence-based approach, which was first developed in 2004 in Washington State, is designed to improve connections and social and emotional well-being of children and their foster families. The success of Mockingbird Family™ in Washington State has led to implementation across the United States as well as in the UK, Canada, Japan, Netherlands and Australia.




HOW DOES IT WORK?

MOCKINGBIRD FAMILY™ unites 6 to 10 Oklahoma Human Services traditional and / or kinship homes called Satellite Families in a local community called a Constellation, supported by an experienced Foster Family known as the Hub Home.

The Hub Home supports Satellite Families by providing information, training and a range of other resources. The Hub Home is an approved foster home who provides a form of respite, called Constellation Care, for children and young people in the Constellation. The Hub Home is responsible for planned and emergency Constellation Care, the coordination of monthly Constellation meetings, quarterly social activities and a range of practical supports to the Constellation families.

The Constellation is like a large, extended family and the Hub Home is like a grandparent’s or auntie/uncle’s house that is familiar and comfortable.

Each child in the Constellation is welcomed by the Hub Home for Constellation Care (a form of respite) and social events, or if there is difficulty at home and the child/foster parents could benefit from a break.

The MOCKINGBIRD FAMILY™ Liaison is an Oklahoma Human Services Child Welfare employee and provides the link between the Constellation and the Agency by providing ongoing communication and oversight. The Liaison engages directly with the Hub Home provider and sometimes attends Constellation events.

Child Welfare Specialists from Foster Care and Adoptions and Permanency Planning who have families or youth participating in the Constellation will continue to serve in their current role with support from the Mockingbird Liaison and Hub Home.

Biological families of children placed in the Constellation are welcomed by the Hub Home for family time, When eunification, they will be invited to attend Constellation events and may stay connected to Constellation post-reunification for mentoring and support.


Mockingbird Dashboard


From Mockingbird Society 2019 Annual Report for Washington Statecohorts

92%

of foster parents retained compared to the state average of 63%

25,079

hours of family support provided by Hub Homes giving foster parents and youth opportunities to recharge.

96%

of youth in Mockingbird Family remain stable in their placements allowing kids to stay in one community.

Implementation Timeline


Implementation and launch of Mockingbird Family™ is an intensive process as the Implementation Team works intentionally to tailor the “bones” of Mockingbird Family to the needs, statutes, policies and protocol of Oklahoma. The Team is currently in the midst of the implementation process which is recommended by Mockingbird Society to be a two-year process.

Implementation requires many tasks including getting contracts and funding in place, writing and approval of protocols with stakeholder participation, recruiting and training Hub and Satellite homes, preparation for constellation launch and developing a framework to ensure sustainability.

The first two constellations will launch in Oklahoma County, with a target launch in the Spring of 2024. These constellations will operate to the end of the two- year implementation period) with the support and technical assistance of Mockingbird Society to ensure success and fidelity. Following the implementation period, the constellations will continue under the management of Child Welfare Services and will serve as “models” for future constellations. Fidelity and evaluation reviews from the implementation period will inform the expansion of Mockingbird Family to other parts of the state.




Resources

Mockingbird Family Constellations emulate an extended family network designed to support, recruit, develop and retain quality foster families.  As a part of this community, foster families feel empowered and prepared to meet the challenging and complex needs of children and youth experiencing foster care.  Meanwhile, the constellation extends stability, consistency and connections for the children and youth in its care, as well as their families.

The Hub Home is an experienced, approved Oklahoma Human Services home.  The Hub Home provides support to Satellite homes in a constellation through mentorship, advocacy, connection to resources and planned and emergency constellation care (a form of respite) and much more.

Satellite Homes are approved Oklahoma Human Services foster homes who join a constellation.  They fulfill the traditional roles of a foster home as well as making a commitment to adhere to the  principals and key features of Mockingbird Family.

The Liaison is team member from Child Welfare Services and serves as a vital communication link between the MOCKINGBIRD FAMILY™ team, the Constellations they oversee and Oklahoma Human Services Child Welfare Division. They are crucial  in upholding the commitment to uphold the MOCKINGBIRD FAMILY™ structure, ensuring its principles and key features are consistently applied and adhered to. In addition to these responsibilities, their role involves facilitating effective communication, providing necessary support, and ensuring that all parties understand and comply with the requirements of belonging to a constellation.

Foster homes who join a constellation will enjoy the benefits of building relationships and being in community with peers who understand theirs and their youth’s unique situations.  Additionally, Satellite homes benefit from support, mentoring and training opportunities from the Hub Home and other Satellite homes. 

Most likely, yes.  Mockingbird Family constellations will be served most cohesively with a single foster care worker for the entire constellation.  As we add newly approved families to constellations, they will all be served by the same worker.  Current foster families who join a constellation will have an option to retain their current worker or transition over to the worker assigned to the constellation.

Children placed in a potential Satellite home will maintain their placement if the home joins a constellation.

Children and youth placed in a satellite home will experience enhanced support in the areas of support in problem solving, access to self-requested constellation care (a form of respite) with a care giver they know and trust, multiple opportunities to develop permanent connections, intentional connection to their native culture and increased opportunities for quality interactions with their biological families.

A single Constellation consists of a Hub Home and 6-10 Satellite Families.  The number of Satellite families varies depending on many factors such as: the number of placements in each satellite home and the level of difficultly of care of the placements in each satellite home.

There is no additional compensation for foster homes that participate in a constellation as a satellite home. Foster homes that serve as a Hub Home in a constellation are contractors of Oklahoma Human Services and compensated for fulfilling their roles and responsibilities.

When safety is not a concern and the Hub Home has capacity to do so, family time may take place at the Hub Home.  When children are nearing reunification, the biological family will be encouraged to participate in constellation activities, if consistent with court orders.  This will allow for support to the children and their families and promote a positive and smooth transition.

Constellation care is similar to respite in that it is time for a foster parents and children placed with them to have some free time away from one another. Constellation care is different than traditional respite in several ways. Constellation care is provided without a change in placement of the child, so there is no compensation provided. Constellation care can be requested by foster parents or by the children in their care. Constellation care is primarily provided by the Hub Home, but can be provided by satellite homes; therefore, children are spending time with people they know and trust. The Hub Home has capacity to provide emergency and planned respite for at least two children at any given time.

In short, Mockingbird Family sets out to take good care of those who take good care of kids in the custody of Oklahoma Human Services.  The extended family design provides support, training, mentoring and fellowship to foster families while providing safe, stable placements where kids can make mistakes and continue to feel nurtured and accepted.

Oklahoma Human Services has a contractual obligation to adhere to the principals and key features (fidelity markers) of Mockingbird Family.  Mockingbird Society does annual fidelity reviews on all agencies who who become Licensees of Mockingbird Family.

Initially, two constellations will be launched through a partnership with Citizens for Children and Families and Arnall Family Foundation. The launch of the initial two constellations will inform the completion of the blueprint for successfully expanding and replicating Mockingbird Family in Oklahoma.  Data from these constellations will be collected throughout the two year implementation and launch period, and evaluation results will be used to inform the expansion of the project.

The objective of MOCKINGBIRD FAMILYTM is to provide a foster home support structure that serves children in meaningful ways and to develop the capacity of caregivers as a family unit in a micro-community, to meet the needs of children, youth and families.  The structure is designed to proactively bridge specific systemic gaps and provide children and youth in care with a supportive community that includes active child protection, placement stability, sibling connections, and biological family involvement.

The implementation of Mockingbird Family (an evidence-based approach) has improved outcomes in the United States and across the world in the following areas and would naturally be expected in Oklahoma as well:

  • Placement Stability
  • Maltreatment in Care
  • Increase in Permanent Connections for youth
  • Remain in Community of Origin
  • Access to Planned and Crisis Respite for Foster Parents
  • Foster Parent Satisfaction
  • Foster Recruitment/Retention
  • Biological Bridging Success/Visitation

Additionally, it is intended in Oklahoma that the project would reduce the time to permanency, reduce the number of youth placed in congregate care and improve factors that increase workload and stress for specialists.

Do you have a question we missed?   We'd love to hear from you!  Please submit additional questions here: mockingbird@okdhs.org


Last Modified on Nov 29, 2023