Keeping local children close to their schools, friends and birth families is really important to us at Dorset Council.
Our fostering service helps children in care stay close to home by placing them with foster carers from their local communities. By doing this, we’re able to offer young people throughout Dorset a loving, stable place to call home.
By becoming a foster carer with Dorset Council, you’ll become a part of a wider community of carers made up of around 180 households across Dorset. You’ll benefit from our 24/7 wrap around care and support, and will have easy access to all of our training and essential services.
Our foster carers get an extensive training and support package throughout their fostering journey that’s tailored to their needs. This includes access to the Foster Carer Training Handbook which details all the courses available to you. You’ll also have access to our online training.
Within 12 months of your approval, or 18 months if you’re someone who has a connection to the family, you’ll be offered support to achieve your Training and Development Standards. You’ll also be expected to keep a personal development portfolio up to date so you can show what learning and development you have completed.
Once you’ve been approved as a carer with Dorset Council, we’ll provide visits every month to make sure things are going well, with regular telephone contact and additional support visits as needed.
Through these visits, our fostering social workers will help you develop a consistent and quality approach to caring for the young people placed with you.
Wider support is also available through:
the Foster Carer Forum (which meets on a quarterly basis)
the duty fostering and social work services
an out of hours service
social events (such as our fostering fair and annual awards ceremony)
other events which may be organised through the year
Mockingbird is a global award winning and pioneering programme led by The Fostering Network. It nurtures the relationships between children, young people and foster families, supporting them to build a resilient and caring community through a community constellation of six to ten families which is led by a hub home carer.
What difference does Mockingbird make to our foster carers?
Mockingbird gives foster carers peer support in a non-judgemental way. Foster carers who are part of a Mockingbird constellation gain help that improves their wellbeing, role satisfaction, retention, and thus placement stability. Feedback from foster carers is consistently excellent – they report feeling genuinely well supported by their hub home carers and other families within the constellation. They can call on each other in times of need, and have access to 24 hour support in a crisis. This helps to ensure the needs of children in their care are well met. It strengthens relationships between foster carers and their children, through the importance of shared activities, and improves social networks for everyone.
What difference does Mockingbird make to our children and young people?
Children and young people in care are less isolated (The Mockingbird evaluation also demonstrated that children and young people felt that the programme was important to them in making friends. During the last eighteen months particularly, children have been isolated from their peer groups and missed out hugely on the benefits which come from socialisation and having fun.)
Children and young people have a greater sense of identity and belonging because of an increased number of fostering families who they get to know within their local area.
Data from The Fostering Network has shown that across the Mockingbird programme, the additional support of the hub home carer and constellation has resulted in fewer disruptions for children and young people and fewer carers resigning.
Services offering Mockingbird have also reported that they have been able to support children and young people to stay close to their friends and families – and have even been able to support some children to stay within fostering families when previously they may have ended up in a residential care placement that did not meet their needs.