Reconsidering Recognition in the Lives of Children and Young People in Care: Insights from the Mockingbird Family in South Australia

Emi Patmisari, Helen McLaren, Michelle Jones

This study explored the experiences of children and young people in the community-based support model of the Mockingbird Family, in South Australia, during implementation and roll-out. The study involved semi-structured interviews with a diverse group of 54 participants, including 21 children and young people, 12 foster carers, and 14 agency workers. Thematic analysis, with the application of Axel Honneth’s recognition theory, showed the Mockingbird Family model to validate the emotional, cognitive, and social support needs of children and young people.

Through interconnected experience, the nurturing of care and the promotion of rights-based, holistic approaches were crucial for achieving social recognition, dignity, and developmental growth. The study indicates the potential benefits of the Mockingbird Family model for addressing the needs of children and young people in care.

The research suggests that a community-based support model such as the Mockingbird Family should be considered in child welfare practices. However, further research is necessary to fully understand the model’s long-term effects and justify its integration into wider child welfare policies.