Group of three young people sitting on outdoor stairs, their friendship gives them happiness and stability

From pillar to post: how to achieve greater stability for children in the care system 

Type Policy and research document

Published on
26 April 2022

While ‘care’ can mean significant instability for many children, this is far from inevitable.

Children in care often get ‘bounced around’ the system and have to change home, school or even neighbourhood. This means they don't get a chance to put down roots and feel that they belong.

Four in five (82%) of adults who responded to our YouGov poll said they think it is very important for children to have consistent adults in their lives who support them through their childhood and beyond.

However, one in ten children in care will move foster home or children’s home at least twice in a year, and, in a single year over half (60%) of children in care change social worker at least once.*

It was horrible. I had no stability whatsoever and felt like I didn’t belong anywhere or that I didn’t have a real place I could call home

Young person in care 

How can we ensure more stability for children in care?

Following the publication of the Independent Care Review, we need to make sure that building and sustaining relationships are placed at the heart of the care system. 
We're working with local councils to improve how we provide care for children, ensuring they have the support network they need as they grow up. 

Our recommendations for ensuring greater stability include: 

Re-thinking how we offer care

Mockingbird Constellation, Edinburgh is a pioneering programme delivered by the UK fostering charity, The Fostering Network, in partnership with 62 fostering services across the UK.  We are the first fostering service to have developed the 'Mockingbird model' in Scotland.  

This involves creating a ‘hub home,’ with a main experienced carer who acts as a ‘grandparent.’ Then several homes are created nearby, in a small geographical area, which are called a ‘constellation.’ 

The aim is for this community to mirror an extended family, so that children can develop relationships not only with their own carers, but also with other children and carers and normal childhood experiences are encouraged, such as sleepovers and playdates.

The service builds a network around a child, helping to providing stability. And if a foster care arrangement is put under strain, a child can go and stay with the hub home or move into another home within the constellation.

Developing wider networks with independent visitors

An independent visitor is a volunteer who is there to be a “buddy” to a child in care.  These volunteers create a strong bond with the child through shared interests, which can include pizza, bowling, the cinema, football and much more. 

Since March 2014, we have hosted the National Independent Visitor Network (NIVN) and we also run independent visitor services across England. These services report that many independent visitors become the most consistent person in the child’s life, with some matches lasting as long as six or eight years, despite multiple moves.

*YouGov, April 2022

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Towards a better children’s social care system

Following the publication of the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care in England, we have a unique opportunity to change the system and to transform the support provided to the most vulnerable children in our society.  

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Life Labs is an online hub for young people in or leaving care, to connect, share and learn together. Created in collaboration with care experienced young people, the site features a range of informative and helpful videos for care-experienced people. 

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