About Alliance CaRES
Welcome to the Alliance CaRES community! Caregivers like you are central to providing stability to the children who enter care in Washington every year until they can safely return home.
While you are doing the important work supporting children and families, we are here to support YOU. Foster parents and kinship caregivers are often entering children’s lives at one of their most complicated moments. This journey requires endurance, perseverance and courage, but can yield so many rewards. One of our favorite quotes is, “Difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations.”
The Alliance CaRES Program is a partner of the Department of Children, Youth, and Families offering support to caregivers around the state. Our local Mentors are dedicated to working alongside caregivers at every stage of your journey, providing guidance, access to resources, and support groups on specific topics where you can learn and interact with peers. We also offer robust learning opportunities through the The Alliance for Professional Development, Training, and Caregiver Excellence. such as trainings and individual support sessions. We are here to answer your questions and offer help when you need it! We can help you find resources, problem-solve, connect you locally, and offer advice in special areas including Kinship care, caring for LGBTQ+ youth, caring for medically complex youth, and more. Please reach out!
To learn more about what the Alliance CaRES program can offer you and to get to know our team view this recording. You can also read our Quarterly Report to learn about our successes, challenges, and trends or our first Annual Report to get a high level view of all we’ve accomplished this year.
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About Our Staff
CaRES Offers Statewide Support
Mentors and Specialists can help you by providing emotional support, sharing their experiences, and connecting you to regional and state resources. They are experienced caregivers who are familiar with the supports and services available in your region.
Mentors are generalists who can help all types of caregivers statewide find the resources and support they need for successful placements. Specialists can help caregivers by providing emotional support, sharing their experiences, and connecting them to resources. They have an area of dedicated knowledge that may be especially important for a caregiver looking for understanding.
Mentors and Specialists do not offer legal, medical, or mental health advice.
Click on a region to see who is near you.
View the full list of CaRES Mentors & Specialists.
Our statewide team oversees the different elements of the CaRES program. We’re here if you have ideas or requests so please reach out!
Jean Brownell is the Program Manager for the Caregiver Retention, Education, and Support Program (CaRES) at the Alliance. She leads the team that supports foster, adoptive, and kin caregivers across Washington State. The CaRES team is dedicated to helping foster parents thrive so they can focus on caring for the children in their homes.
Jean cares deeply about the families who are involved with the dependency system. She began her career recruiting, training, licensing and supporting caregivers for a private agency and continued on to other work in child welfare, including as a supervisor, a manager, an analyst, and as a strategic consultant focused on system reform nationally. She has worked on improving child welfare practices in San Francisco, New York City, Indiana, Michigan, Virginia, Baltimore, DC, Louisiana, and Washington State. Since 2016, Jean has been the Alliance’s caregiver curriculum developer creating trainings for Washington’s caregivers, including Caregiver Core Training.
Jean graduated with a BA in Comparative Literature from Barnard College and an MSW with a Policy focus from the University of Michigan School of Social Work. She loves reading, writing, sunshine, and espresso.
Lead Mentor Coordinator
Shana Burres is the lead mentor coordinator at Alliance CaRES. She oversees the CaRES Mentors and the development and maintenance of the supportive facilitated discussion groups (SFDGs). Her work focuses on connecting people in ways that encourage mutual and ongoing growth.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in health education and a master’s of education in educational leadership. Her career in adult learning began with a position as director of a small non-profit and instructor at a local college. These roles eventually transitioned into work as a learning development consultant.
During that time, Shana became a licensed foster parent and joined the work of The Mockingbird Society as a HUB home where she discovered a passion for connecting and supporting foster parents. She joined Alliance CaRES when they launched in March of 2021 and loves the opportunity to continually adapt and improve the ways caregivers engage in support and education through the SFDGs or with CaRES mentors.
When she is not thinking or talking about foster care, she is enjoying time with her family, drinking coffee with friends, or dreaming up the next project or adventure.
Licensing and Kinship Coordinator
Luanne Marshall is the Licensing Coordinator with the Alliance CaRES program. She assists prospective foster parents with the Licensing process as well as offering specialized trainings on various topics.
Luanne has always been drawn to helping others. She started her journey in Social Services right out of high school, working for the Tacoma Rescue Mission Women’s Mental Health facility followed by the YWCA Battered Women’s Shelter, all while pursuing an Early Childhood Degree, so she could pursue her life’s dream of working with children. She fulfilled that dream by opening her own daycare, becoming an unlicensed relative care provider and a Foster Parent for 25 years, mostly caring for drug impacted, medically fragile infants. She grew her family through Adoption with the placement of her daughter.
Through the years Luanne has been involved in all aspects of Foster Care: training, serving on boards, doing start up projects such as the Transportation/ Supervision program, Liaison program, Recruitment and Retention, the FIRST program, Licensing, working in the Adoption unit and training. To balance out her life Luanne had her own catering/event planning company, hosting many Foster parent and staff appreciation events over the years. She loves any opportunity to plan an event and cook!
Community Engagement Coordinator
Christa’s role with Alliance CaRES is to coordinate with kinship and foster families, community partners, and local organization, to connect families to supports, trainings and each other.
The time spent in kinship care as a youth, started Christa’s awareness for the needs of families within the foster care system and opened her heart to becoming a foster parent. Christa has received support and encouragement from many during her foster/adoptive mom journey. She is honored to be able to help others as they navigate the system.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in human services and a master’s of education in adult and continuing education. She has spent her career in the nonprofit sector most recently supporting professional development of child care providers across the state. This work has given her a strong foundation in collaborating with local communities to build support systems. Christa has written several articles on supporting foster children in child care.
Her family spends much of their time outdoors or cozily tucked inside reading.
Robin Blomster is a communications professional with more than 15 years of experience in journalism, marketing and digital content. She works with both CaRES and the Alliance helping tell the important stories of caregivers.
Charissa joined the Alliance for Child Welfare Excellence in September 2021. As the event planner, she helps to lead the efforts in communicating with key speakers and executing virtual conferences. Charissa has a Bachelor of Arts in English from University of Massachusetts Lowell and a certification in Professional Technical Writing from the University of Washington. Charissa is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area and has lived in Seattle for almost 8 years.
Charissa is a lover of coffee, houseplant parenthood, HIIT workouts, and playing with her cat. She is often exploring the PNW and supports the local Seattle scene.
Melissa Becker joined Partners for Our Children in 2021 as a Research Consultant for the Alliance Evaluation team, with a background in family support, program evaluation and research, and early learning systems. She most recently worked on a multi-state project to improve pre-k programs and systems through research, evaluation, and continuous quality improvement processes. Melissa received her B.A. in Psychology from Macalester College, and her MSW from the University of Washington School of Social Work. Her research interests include child development, support for parents and families with young children, early learning, program evaluation, and child welfare practice and policy.
Connect with Us!
Reach out via email firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call 206-221-4913. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram!