About Us

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.

Click to view the one-pager larger and download to share!  →

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.

CaRES Support Map
CaRES Region 1 Mentors CaRES Region 2 Mentor CaRES Region 3 Mentors CaRES Region 4 Mentors CaRES Region 5 Mentors CaRES Region 6 Mentors CaRES Statewide Mentors & Specialist

CaRES Region 1 Mentors

April Burrer

CaRES Mentor: Region 1
aburrer@uw.edu


April has been a licensed foster parent for 15 years. She has spent the last six years recruiting and supporting foster families. She enjoys encouraging caregivers and helping build caregiver support communities. She began her career working in child welfare as an intern for DCYF, getting a behind-the-scenes look at the dependency and foster care process (as well as heavy use of a copy machine!). April and her husband are nurturing a host of kiddos (bio, adopted, and foster).

Mary Robinson

CaRES Mentor: Region 1
mrobin6@uw.edu


Mary has been a licensed foster parent for 12 years. Her fostering journey has opened up many opportunities for Mary to support and encourage foster parents. She served as an Assistant Recruitment Coordinator and Recruiter Peer Mentor (RPM) with FosteringWA for five years. She and her husband have three adult children and they have provided a home for countless others. Mary works part time at an alternative high school teaching reading.

CaRES Region 2 Mentor

Amanda Lawrence

CaRES Mentor: Region 2
amanda2l@uw.edu

Weird fact? Amanda has never lived outside of Washington State! She was born in Ellensburg and now currently resides with her family in Pasco. Amanda remembers growing up with a couple people in her family being foster parents and knew she wanted to be part of the fostering community when she grew up. She and her husband started as kinship caregivers and shortly after decided to get licensed. While Amanda has experience with a variety of ages, from working as a para-educator to parenting to being licensed 0-18, she excels with children who are 0-5 years old and getting them set up with much needed therapies and/or services (OT, PT, Speech, Preschool, Feeding Therapy, etc.). She and her husband currently have 4 daughters; 2 biological and 2 adopted through foster care.  Amanda has been involved in different aspects of the foster care community and loves making and building connections. There is so much to navigating the system from terminology to communication to support. Amanda has a passion for helping to make sure caregivers have the resources and support in their back pockets needed for them and their foster youth to thrive!

CaRES Region 3 Mentors

Deshanna Brown

CaRES Mentor: Regions 3 & 4
dbrown27@uw.edu


Deshanna has been working in the Foster Care field in various roles for six-plus years. She has been a visit supervisor, a case manager, and is a current volunteer Child Appointed Advocate in Pierce county. Most recently, she worked at Amara as a Foster Care Specialist. Along with these roles within the system, she is also a kinship caregiver. Deshanna’s passion for working with children and families in foster care comes from her drive to help every child find permanency. She loves helping families find the resources they need to help a child in their home thrive and helping foster parents and kinship caregivers navigate the world of foster care. 

Rae Cook

CaRES Mentor: Region 3
rcook3@uw.edu


Rae and her family have been a licensed foster and adoptive home for seven years, and were able to adopt their son in winter 2018. Rae began volunteering to speak on foster parent panels and with her local foster community groups. She was also able to be one of the original satellite families that formed a Mockingbird Family model in her area. She has dedicated herself to building a community of support to all foster families.

Stephanie Reid

CaRES Mentor: Region 3
sdreid@uw.edu


Stephanie and her family have been fostering since 2018 but were introduced to kinship care in 2014.  She has worked in communication for the last 15 years and holds a Bachelors degree in Social Science. She also worked in a foster care receiving shelter, as a volunteer grief group facilitator, and is active in advocacy for rare disease research and support. Stephanie has experience caring for medically fragile children, kinship care, transracial adoption, and child loss. As the wife of a retired veteran, she understands the ins and outs of military life. Stephanie is passionate about supporting children in the foster care system as well as their families and understands the value of foster parents being seen and heard members of the team.
Stephanie is a mother through biology, adoption, and foster care. Most of her free time is spent with her husband and four daughters.

CaRES Region 4 Mentors

Deshanna Brown

CaRES Mentor: Regions 3 & 4
dbrown27@uw.edu


Deshanna has been working in the Foster Care field in various roles for six-plus years. She has been a visit supervisor, a case manager, and is a current volunteer Child Appointed Advocate in Pierce county. Most recently, she worked at Amara as a Foster Care Specialist. Along with these roles within the system, she is also a kinship caregiver. Deshanna’s passion for working with children and families in foster care comes from her drive to help every child find permanency. She loves helping families find the resources they need to help a child in their home thrive and helping foster parents and kinship caregivers navigate the world of foster care. 

 

Lisa Konick

CaRES Mentor: Region 4
lrkonick@uw.edu


Lisa Konick has been a foster parent for 21 years. During that time she has adopted four foster children. A graduate of the University of Washington, Lisa has been a caregiver co-trainer since 2011, and prior to that she was an educational advocacy trainer for Treehouse. Lisa is passionate about supporting, encouraging, and resourcing foster caregivers and kinship care providers across Washington state.

CaRES Region 5 Mentors

Nathan LaChine

CaRES Mentor: Region 5 & 6
nlachine@uw.edu


Nathan has been a therapeutic foster parent with Community Youth Services serving BRS Youth for the past 16 years. He has held a variety of roles within the foster care community and has been a strong advocate within the LGBTQ2IA+ community. Through his teaching and public speaking, Nathan hopes to elevate and provide a voice for system involved families.

Sarah Rachael Edwards-Strode

CaRES Mentor: Region 5 & Medically Complex
Srstrode@uw.edu


Sarah and her husband David have been licensed foster parents for nearly 15 years. Before changing her goals to pursuing an education in nursing, Sarah was a ballet director for 20 years. While originally the Strode’s were focused on caring for drug affected infants, their concentration morphed into a focus and advocacy for medically complex and medically fragile foster children. The Strode’s have 8 children. Two biological, four adopted through foster care, and currently two medically fragile foster children. Sarah has a passion for advocating for the unseen and unheard. She specializes in burn survivor care as well as caring for those with intellectual and chronic illnesses and diagnosis. Sarah is thrilled to be part of Alliance CaRES and working along side other families wanting to care for the medically complex foster child as well as those just starting their foster care journey.

CaRES Region 6 Mentors

Amanda Merriman

CaRES Mentor: Region 6
amerr7@uw.edu


Amanda and her husband have been foster parents since 2015. They have welcomed many children into their home and helped to facilitate successful reunification. Amanda strives to maintain supportive relationships with families during the course of their case and after reunification.  In doing so she has gained great perspective on the importance of nurturing relationships between biological families and their children. This became a passion of hers after the adoption of her daughter in 2020. She now hopes to use her experience to support fellow foster families in their journey through foster care.

Nancy Schrader

CaRES Mentor: Region 6
scna500@uw.edu


Nancy was first licensed as a foster parent in 1976 in Indiana. She has fostered around 50 children, six of whom she adopted through foster care. For 20 years, she worked for Washington state as a financial service specialist in the area of Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and food stamps and later for Children’s Administration as a home support specialist. She currently works as a co-trainer with the Alliance, a social service worker for the Office of Public Defense in Kitsap County, a volunteer CASA for Jefferson County and now a CaRES mentor. She also serves on the board of the Foster Parent Alliance of Washington State.

Nathan LaChine

CaRES Mentor: Region 5 & 6
nlachine@uw.edu


Nathan has been a therapeutic foster parent with Community Youth Services serving BRS Youth for the past 16 years. He has held a variety of roles within the foster care community and has been a strong advocate within the LGBTQ2IA+ community. Through his teaching and public speaking, Nathan hopes to elevate and provide a voice for system involved families.

Racheal Turner

CaRES Mentor: Region 6
rturner4@uw.edu


Racheal Turner is from Port Angeles, WA. She is married with two biological children, two adopted children, and guardianship of one. She and her husband have been foster parents since 2007. They specialize in teenage foster children. She has a bachelor’s degree in business management, a master’s degree in teaching, and currently holds a teaching certificate in Washington State. She and her family enjoy racing, camping, hunting, fishing, and the outdoors.

CaRES Statewide Mentors & Specialist

Christina Urtasun

CaRES Mentor Region: All State
Curtasun@uw.edu


Christina has been a licensed foster parent, in Oak Harbor, for twenty years. She has been involved in many aspects of the foster care community including providing liaison services with Fostering Together program for 13 years and being a co-trainer with the Alliance for Child Welfare. Christina is excited to join the Alliance cAres program as a mentor so she can continue supporting and encouraging families as well as help them navigate the system. Christina has four sons and one daughter. In her spare time, Christina loves to be hiking, camping, reading, and spending time with her family.

Alaina Capoeman-Davis

CaRES Specialist: ICWA
Alainacd@uw.edu


Alaina Capoeman-Davis is a citizen of the Quinault Nation, her tribal name is Xoputsée,  Alaina attended The Evergreen State College, graduating with a Bachelors of Liberal Arts in 2005 with an emphasis on Indian Child Welfare. She has worked for three tribes as a Child Protection Services Investigator, Family Services Caseworker, Foster Parent Licensor, Permanency Planning, Adult Protection Services, and Individual Indian Monies Case Worker and Department Manager.  She has testified in state court and tribal courts.  She was a relative placement for several children.

Alaina enjoys reading, hiking, making regalia, dancing, hunting, canoe pulling, spending time with her family and cheering on the Seahawks.

Dr. Emmanuel Camarillo

CaRES Specialist: Spanish Speaking Community
Ec2643@uw.edu


El Dr. Emmanuel Camarillo tiene un doctorado en Liderazgo Educacional de la Universidad de Washington Tacoma. Su investigación se centró en comprender la conexión entre la capacitación que reciben los padres de cuidado de crianza terapéuticos y la interrupción de la colocación de niños en los hogares de los padres de cuidado de crianza. Además, su investigación proporcionó recomendaciones a las agencias de cuidado de crianza que buscan retener a padres de cuidado de crianza calificados y aumentar la calidad y estabilidad de la experiencia de los niños en programas terapéuticos de cuidado de crianza. Antes de trabajar en bienestar infantil, Emmanuel  trabajó en la educación superior durante seis años. Emmanuel y su prometido, Francisco, han sido padres de cuidado de crianza durante los últimos tres años. Emmanuel ha sido voluntario en The Foster Closet en Bellingham desde 2018. También se desempeña como miembro de la junta directiva de Foster Hearts, una organización que se esfuerza por mejorar las vidas de los niños en cuidado de crianza, asegurando que cada niño tenga sus necesidades básicas satisfechas y brindando oportunidades para mejorar la vida. Más recientemente, Emmanuel fue seleccionado como representante de la Región 3 de 1624 para servir como enlace entre los proveedores cuidado y el Departamento de Ninos, Adolecentes y la Familia (DCYF).

Dr. Emmanuel Camarillo holds an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from the University of Washington Tacoma. His research focused on understanding the connection between the training that therapeutic foster parents receive and placement disruption. In addition, his research provided recommendations to foster care agencies looking to retain skilled foster parents and increase the quality and stability of children’s experience in therapeutic foster care programs. Prior to working in child welfare, Emmanuel worked in higher education for six years. Emmanuel and his fiance Francisco have been foster parents for the last three years. He has volunteered at The Foster Closet in Bellingham since 2018. He also serves as a board member of Foster Hearts, an organization that strives to improve the lives of children in foster care, ensuring each child has their basic needs met and providing life-enhancing opportunities. Most recently, Emmanuel was selected as a 1624 Region 3 representative to serve as a liaison between caregivers and DCYF.

Francisco Javier Contreras Alvarez

CaRES Specialist: Spanish Speaking Community
Fc886670@uw.edu


Francisco tiene su licencia como padre de crianza. Francisco y su pareja han acogido a más de 13 niños y jóvenes en su hogar y actualmente están acogiendo a un niño de 14 años por aproximadamente 2 años. Francisco obtuvo su Licenciatura en Servicios Humanos y una especialización en español de la Western Washington University. Francisco actualmente ocupa el puesto de administrador de casos, lo que aporta habilidades y conocimientos al trabajar con y para las familias al brindarles apoyo y recursos para ayudarlos a alcanzar sus metas y satisfacer sus necesidades. Francisco también es voluntario del Foster Closet en Bellingham desde 2018 y se desempeña como miembro de la junta directiva de Fosters Hearts, una organización que se esfuerza por mejorar la vida de los niños en hogares de crianza, asegurando que cada niño tenga sus necesidades básicas satisfechas y brindando mejoras para la vida. oportunidades. A Francisco le apasiona apoyar y defender las comunidades marginadas y subrepresentadas donde las familias y los niños de estas comunidades pueden alcanzar su potencial proporcionando recursos para promover el conocimiento y la educación de la comunidad.

Francisco is currently a licensed foster parent. Francisco and his partner have fostered over 13 children and youth in their home and are currently fostering a 14 yr old boy for about 2 years now. Francisco obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services with a minor in Spanish from Western Washington University. Francisco currently holds the position as case manager which brings skills and knowledge working with and for families by supporting and providing sources to help them reach their goals and meet their needs. Francisco is also a volunteer for the Foster Closet in Bellingham since 2018 and serves as a board member of Fosters Hearts, an organization that strives to improve the lives of children in foster care, ensuring each child has their basic needs met and providing life-enhancing opportunities. Francisco is passionate about supporting and advocating for marginalized and underrepresented communities where families and children from these communities can reach their potential by providing resources to further the knowledge and education of the community.

Sarah Rachael Edwards-Strode

CaRES Mentor Region: 5 & Medically Complex
Srstrode@uw.edu


Sarah and her husband David have been licensed foster parents for nearly 15 years. Before changing her goals to pursuing an education in nursing, Sarah was a ballet director for 20 years. While originally the Strode’s were focused on caring for drug affected infants, their concentration morphed into a focus and advocacy for medically complex and medically fragile foster children. The Strode’s have 8 children. Two biological, four adopted through foster care, and currently two medically fragile foster children. Sarah has a passion for advocating for the unseen and unheard. She specializes in burn survivor care as well as caring for those with intellectual and chronic illnesses and diagnosis. Sarah is thrilled to be part of Alliance CaRES and working along side other families wanting to care for the medically complex foster child as well as those just starting their foster care journey.

Sylvia Cardenas

CaRES Specialist: Spanish Speaking Community
sylviac1@uw.edu


Sylvia obtuvo una Licenciatura en Ciencias de Administración de Empresas a través de Central State University. Ella ha vivido en el este de Washington toda su vida y disfruta de la gran variedad de actividades al aire libre. Sylvia y su esposo se convirtieron en Cuidadores Familiares en 2017. Esta experiencia encendió el fuego en ellos para hacer más y ambos decidieron convertirse en Padres de Crianza. A ella le apasiona ayudar a otras personas a comprender la necesidad de Padres de Crianza  en nuestras comunidades. Se dio cuenta de que había una necesidad de ayudar a las personas con dominio limitado del inglés que querían convertirse en padres de crianza. Fue entonces cuando comenzó a servir como Reclutadora/Mentora de Padres de Crianza para personas que solo hablan español o su ingles es limitado. Ella entiende que no todas las personas pueden convertirse en Padres de Crianza, pero siempre hay una manera de apoyar a nuestros niños en el cuidado de crianza.

Sylvia obtained a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration through Central State University.  She has lived in Eastern Washington all her life and really enjoys the large variety of outdoor activities. Sylvia and her husband became kinship caregivers in 2017.  This experience lit the fire in them to do more and both decided to become licensed foster parents. She has a passion for helping others understand the need for foster parents in our communities. She noticed there was a need to assist limited English speaking individuals who wanted to become foster parents. This is when she began to serve as a foster parent recruiter/mentor for monolingual Spanish speaking individuals. She understands not all individuals can become foster parents, but there is always a way to support our children in foster care.

Trey Rabun

CaRES Specialist: LGBTQAI+
trabun@uw.edu


Trey holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Hampton University, a master’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Illinois, and a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Washington He has worked as a foster care social worker supporting youth in foster care and their caregivers, doing foster parent recruitment, and currently leads Amara’s efforts to create programming focused on supporting kinship families in the child welfare system. Trey also manages various LGBTQIA+ programs including a partnership with Gays with Kids and current member of DCYF’s LGBTQIA+ Advisory Group. Personally, Trey and his husband were foster parents for five years and have a 7-year-old adopted son. 

 

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

Program Manager
JEANB9@UW.EDU


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.

Shana Burres

Lead Mentor Coordinator
SRBURRES@UW.EDU


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.

Luanne Marshall

Licensing and Kinship Coordinator
LMARSH3@UW.EDU


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!

Christa Murray 

Community Engagement Coordinator
CHRISTA6@UW.EDU


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
Robin Blomster

Communications Manager 


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 Quiambao

Event Planner


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_photo_2016
Melissa Becker

Research Consultant


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 alliancecares@uw.edu or give us a call 206-221-4913. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram!