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Foster carers in Hertfordshire are now sharing duties to provide respite for those who need it.

The 'mockingbird family model' has been launched in the county this week and brings up to 10 fostering families together.

It provides an extended network of support and a safe option for a child to go on a 'sleep-over' or take part in social activities with a different family.

Herts County Council says it will initially begin with one hub with the aim to expand to have Mockingbird hubs within each mainstream fostering team. Hubs
will be supported by a mockingbird liaison social worker/supervising social worker who will supervise the hub home and the majority of the satellite carers.

It's hoped the scheme will lead to a reduction of out-of-area fostering placements, stronger relationships for looked after children and improved foster carer confidence, motivation and decreased isolation

Lynn Costello, the county's head of fostering, has been telling BOB fm about its popularity and benefits: "There are only sixteen local authorities embracing it so far, but it offers good support and offers good chances for our foster children.

We are truly inspired by it. Most people ae asking why we haven't thought of this before, as it is very simple, but a brilliant model".

Lynn went on to explain how carers have been reacting to the new framework: "It's been a lifeline to them when they have been managing a complex child, who is out of control for that moment.

They can call on the Hub Home Carer, who can offer a sleepover. It's what you'd want for any child to feel that there's a group of adults who are there for them, not just one foster carer".

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