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May is National Foster Care Month, a time to consider the many children and youth in need of loving homes and the professionals dedicating to finding foster families. During this period, especially, as individuals and families emerge from the long-term challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an ever-pressing need for foster families in Connecticut.

“An observance like National Foster Care Month is an opportunity to start the conversation about foster care, but more importantly, to consider what we can do year round to find foster homes, as well as serve children and youth already in care, and support foster families,” said Sharon Pendleton-Ponzani, LCSW, director, Wheeler Foster Care Services.

In Connecticut, on any given day, there are nearly 4,000 children and youth in foster care, and there are nearly 600 youth in need of loving foster homes. Most are over the age of 13 years old.

Wheeler offers a 10-week virtual course called TIPS-MAPP, Trauma-Informed Partnering for Safety and Permanence – Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting, to prepare prospective foster parents and families for the role of fostering a child or youth. Classes run on Monday evenings from May 10 through July 26, 2021 from 6 pm–8 pm.

TIPS-MAPP is a journey where participants explore their values and personal connection to children. It’s a place where people learn more about the foster care system in Connecticut and gain insight into the roles, challenges, and experiences of social workers, foster parents, and most importantly, the hundreds of children in Connecticut who need loving homes and families. TIPS-MAPP participants explore loss, grief, and forms of attachment, as well as how foster and adoptive families can help a child to not only heal from abuse, neglect, trauma, and loss, but to grow and thrive.

TIPS-MAPP is delivered by Wheeler’s dedicated team of specialists, social workers, and clinicians who work closely with foster families from the start and continue as supportive teammates throughout the fostering process.

TIPS-MAPP Course Schedule: (Classes run from 6-8 pm on Monday evenings).
Pre-registration by May 3, 2021 is required by contacting Wheeler’s Foster Care Specialists.

  • May 10, 2021: Welcome – About Our Program
  • May 17, 2021: A Foster Care & Adoption Experience
  • May 24, 2021: Losses & Gains
  • May 31, 2021: NO CLASS DUE TO HOLIDAY
  • June 7, 2021: Helping Children with Attachments
  • June 14, 2021: Healthy Behaviors
  • June 21, 2021: Helping Children with Birth Family
  • June 28, 2021: Helping Children Leave Foster Care
  • July 5, 2021: NO CLASS DUE TO HOLIDAY
  • July 12, 2021: The Impact of Fostering & Adopting
  • July 19, 2021: Perspectives in Fostering/Adoption
  • July 26, 2021: Endings & Beginnings

The program is open to prospective parents from all walks of life. Participants can be married, single, or part of a domestic partnership. They can own or rent their homes. Parenting experience is a plus but not required.

Individuals who attend the informational sessions and/or 10-week course are under no obligation to become licensed foster parents.

To register for Wheeler’s TIPS-MAPP course, contact Wheeler’s Foster Care Specialists, Michelle Martins at 860.707.5068, or Allison Casinghino at 860.637.5586, or send an email to Pre-registration and an application process are required, and the registration deadline is May 3, 2021.

About Wheeler’s Foster Care Programs
Wheeler’s Foster Care programs, funded by the Connecticut Department of Children and Families, provide 24-hour support to families and youth. Wheeler’s programs provide a higher level of care and resources, including supports to meet the needs of children and youth and help them heal from abuse, neglect, trauma, and more.

For information about Wheeler Foster Care opportunities, call 860.793.7277, email or visit

About Wheeler
Wheeler provides comprehensive solutions that address complex health issues, providing individuals, families and communities with accessible, innovative care that encourages health, recovery, and growth at all stages of life. Our integrated approach to primary and behavioral health, education, and recovery creates measurable results, positive outcomes, and hopeful tomorrows for more than 50,000 individuals across Connecticut each year. Learn more: