media release

Innovative foster and kinship care program launched

South Australia’s dedicated foster and kinship carers will be further supported through a new, innovative program to be trialled in South Australia for the first time.

Starting this month, the Marshall Liberal Government has invested just over $207,000 to deliver the new “Mockingbird Family” pilot for the next 12 months in a partnership with Life Without Barriers.

In a bid to better support and retain carers, the program unites up to 10 carers who live in a similar area and provides them with ongoing peer support, access to shared resources and planned and crisis respite care.

Each group is called a “constellation” of carers. Two constellations will be created in SA, including one in Adelaide’s southern suburbs beginning later this month a second in the city’s west.

The program also aims to better connect siblings. For example, when brothers and sisters cannot be placed in the same household, they can instead be placed near the constellation of their siblings and share the benefits of the extended family model this program offers.

During national Child Protection Week, Minister for Child Protection Rachel Sanderson said the program was one of a suite of new measures the Marshall Liberal Government had implemented to improve outcomes for our most vulnerable children and young people and better support carers.

Mockingbird Family is an evidence-based, internationally acclaimed program proven to improve placement stability for children and young people in care and provide additional support to carers by creating safe, caring and supportive communities,” said Minister Sanderson.

“The Marshall Liberal Government is committed to continuing to find and implementing innovative programs that create stability for our children and young people so they can thrive and reach their full potential.

Mockingbird Family is just one example of our ongoing commitment to improve outcomes for our most vulnerable children and young people.”

Additional Marshall Liberal Govenrment new measures include, but are not limited to:

  • Implemented, funding and delivering the Stability in Family Based Care policy, extended carer payments for young people from age 18 to 21 and this year’s State Budget builds on this commitment.
  • Delivering and funding a Treatment Foster Care Oregon pilot, a renowned specialised foster care program.
  • Rolling out and funding Newpin, a new family reunification program helping bring children in care and their parents safety back to together.
  • Establishing and funding Family Group Conferencing and in this year’s State Budget, establishing it as an ongoing program which now includes an Aboriginal-focused program. This follows the success of a two-year pilot.
  • Rolled out and funding Safe Kids, Families Together, an intensive family support pilot program keeping vulnerable families together, if safe to do so.

Life Without Barriers South Australia Child, Youth and Family Director Simone Mather said keeping sibling groups together, within close geographical location of constellations, and helping children and young people to connect with their culture is at the heart of the program.

“Life Without Barriers has already had great success with Mockingbird Family constellations in New South Wales and Queensland and is excited to bring the program to South Australian communities,” said Ms Mather.

Mockingbird Family is part of our ongoing commitment to providing great services and impacting future generations, particularly for First Nations children. We recognise the importance of being connected to culture and empahsize our commitment to family reunification.”

Foster carer Kristy Smith and her husband Gregg, have nominated to be part of the southern suburbs constellation.

“I am so excited to see the Mockingbird Family start here in SA, after hearing how beneficial it has been in other places. Being part of a constellation and having a supportive network is vital to supporting children in care,” said Ms Smith.

“Being part of such a community, gives a sense of belonging to the children and understanding by others that are going through similar experiences.”