Loyola University Chicago

School of Social Work

Fostering Connections Training Institute


Fostering Connections engages caregivers/child welfare professionals, and adult mentors and foster parents in trainings focused on building skills toward improving relationships with youth in care. The training curriculum (which constitutes two models, including the Mentoring FAN and TIP), provides participants with evidence-informed approaches to relationship development and psychological self-sufficiency, which can lead to higher-quality relationships and improved goal achievement.   

  • Foster FAN (Facilitating Attuned Interactions) is a practical tool for relationship building and reflective practice (Gilkerson & Pryce, 2021), focused on skill-building in reading cues and responding flexibly and in a self-regulated way. FAN training is associated with an increase in empathy and self-awareness, as well as a growth in confidence and relationship quality among its participants.
  • TIP is an evidence-informed intervention model based on the theory of Psychological Self-Sufficiency, which is focused on transitioning one’s barriers into hope. Its transformative leadership development curriculum empowers the participants to develop self-awareness, confidence, hope, goal-orientation, leadership, accountability, conscientiousness, and grit. 

Our Team 

  • Experience as a team collaborating with adolescents in care and with the supportive adults in their lives 
  • Strong background in research, practice, and evidence-informed interventions 


Dr. Julia Pryce, Faculty Director
Dr. Bridget Couture, Program Director
  Dr. Philip Hong, Consultant

Dr. Linda Gilkerson, Consultant 

Services Offered

  • FAN Training  

FAN-Facilitating Attuned Interactions teaches volunteer mentors and professional staff how to build strong relationships with youth and the families they support. Attunement involves reading cues in oneself and the other in order to meet the other person where they are and moving flexibly in interactions based on the response.   

  • TIP Training  

TIP is a series of modules designed to assist participant’s transition from a state of vulnerability into stability. TIP uses a variety of reflection activities and action commitments throughout the 12 modules, laying the foundation for goal setting and core personal success.  

  • Technical Assistance  

Level II training is recommended to all participants to facilitate practice and integration of the tools into consistent practice and relationship development. This technical assistance creates professional learning communities that meet regularly (approximately monthly) to share reflections on the use of the tools and learn together as a means of improving practice.   

  • Evaluation  

The training team will provide a mixed methods evaluation of all trainings, which (per consent of the participant) will evaluate skill development and the impact of the trainings on relationship quality, self-sufficiency, and work satisfaction, among other outcomes. All data will be de-identified and findings will be shared with the agency as one component of professional development.   

For more information and/or to schedule a needs assessment, please contact Dr. Bridget Couture at bcouture@luc.edu 


“These trainings helped me to clarify why I do this work, and to recommit to building transformational relationships with and for others.”