NEW BRITAIN – May is National Foster Care Month and Wheeler Clinic highlights a major need for foster families across the state.
“The connections that the kids have for their foster parents holds for a long time,” said Allison Casinghino, Wheeler’s foster care specialist. “They connect with families as kids and that connection continues as adults. It’s not just important in a child’s life, but for adults as well.”
Wheeler’s Foster Care programs, funded by the state 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, according to the clinic.
Since it is National Foster Care Month, it is a time to consider the many children and youth in need of loving homes and the professionals dedicating to finding foster families.
“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, 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.
The majority of those 600 youth are teenagers so there is a big push to find homes for them, Casinghino said.
“People tend to think that teenagers would be harder to help but they’re actually more workable,” she said. “They know what’s happening around them and they can vocalize their concerns. Teenagers are one of my favorite populations to work with and I encourage anyone who is interested in foster care to that that leap and see what works for them.”
“The kids are always eager to have a family or an adult who shows that they care about them,” she said. “The experience can make a huge difference.”
At Wheeler, there will be professionals working with the families every step of the way.
“We’re here for you from start to finish, from calling for information, to training, to supporting and matching children, follow ups and reunification,” she said. “There is no obligation to proceed after you go through the training, but we do encourage people to give it a try so they can make an informed decision.”
For information about Wheeler Foster Care opportunities, call 860-793-7277, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit wheelerhealth.org/foster.