Mentors 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. Mentors do not offer legal, medical, or mental health advice.
Lead Mentor, CaRES Mentor Region: 1
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).
CaRES Mentor Region: 1
Collette has been a licensed foster parent for 5 years and a kinship care/suitable other for 5-6 years prior to that. Collette and her husband Troy have lived in the Spokane area for 23 years and have 6 grown children and have fostered at least 14 others (mostly teenage girls). Collette is an Early Learning Provider and works in the ECEAP program. She is enthusiastic about supporting all families but especially young families, families who are CPS involved and families who are caring for children that are not their own. She and Troy own a small farm in Newman Lake and raise beef cattle and sheep.
CaRES Mentor Region: 1
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 Mentor Region: 1
Sarah and her husband Chad have been licensed foster parents since 2013. During that time, they opened their home to several drug-affected and medically fragile children and now have two children who were adopted through foster care. Sarah obtained her bachelor’s degree in Children’s Studies with minors in Early Childhood Education and Sociology from Eastern Washington University. Sarah brings 16 years of experience working for the State of Washington including the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) and Spokane County Head Start. Her entire career has been catered to working with vulnerable children and families to provide services and support and advocate for those who need it most.
We know relatives and foster parents feel more successful in their journey when they are connected to others who “get it.” That is why Alliance CaRES is in the community to help you get connected with local foster and kinship families to share common challenges, feel heard, and solve problems.
CaRES Connectors are foster and kinship caregivers themselves; they organize in-person events and community groups to bring families together for support, resource sharing, and connection. You might even build a new respite opportunity! Meet your region’s Connectors below.
Events in Region 1 are coming soon. Keep an eye on your email and social media announcements for details.
We are always looking for great partners! If you or a caregiver you know live in Region 1 and are interested in creating a community group, please email Aimee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Topic Support Groups
Topic-based conversations bring caregivers with similar needs together to find solutions while earning training credit. Caregivers’ knowledge is the foundation for shared problem-solving and self-advocacy skills.
Check the calendar below for current listings or, for a complete list of our Topic Support Groups groups, click here.
Join us for a CaRES Book Club!
TBRI Book Club: Relating through the senses (The Connected Therapist): This 3-week book club is an extension of the Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) modules or the TBRI book clubs: The Connected Child and The Connected Parent. Based on selections from “The Connected Therapist” by Marti Smith, discussions during the three sessions will focus on understanding sensory processing challenges, developing sensory processing strategies, and the practical application of those strategies in everyday caregiving. This TBRI book club is an encouraging and welcoming space for foster parents and kinship caregivers to engage in a next step in peer-to-peer support, problem-solving, and learning facilitated by a TBRI practitioner.
Caregivers who have completed either both TBRI book clubs or the TBRI modules can register. Register here!
Dancing with a Porcupine: The CaRES team leads you through a reading and discussion of “Dancing with a Porcupine” by Jennie Owens. This book shares the compelling story of the author’s struggle to save her own life while caring for three children she and her husband adopted from foster care.
During the three sessions, you will discuss themes including: self-care; trauma-informed care; expectations and hurt feelings; compassion fatigue; and balancing real life with the outside pressure to look like you are doing it all well. Register here!
Drop-In groups provide a chance for caregivers to connect with each other online for support and resources informally. Sometimes you just need to have a conversation with someone else who “gets it”. As Drop-In groups are not specific trainings and have no curriculum, they do not qualify for training credit.
What can I share in the group? Will my social worker or licensor know I attended this group? Will I receive training credit for attending? Find the answer to these and other questions by clicking here and reading the Drop-In Group FAQ.
It’s All Relative: Kinship Support Drop by for kinship resources, help with licensing, and answers to your kinship questions.
First Thursday from 7:00 – 8:00 pm Click here to join the Zoom session.
TBRI Tuesday: Dive in and discuss parenting challenges using Trust Based Relational Intervention principles! Gather with other caregivers as we discuss how to connect, empower and correct children the TBRI way.
*There is no need to have completed a TBRI training to attend this group. Just come and learn more!
Second Tuesday of each month 7:30 – 8:30 PM Click here to join the Zoom session.
Most of these are available to foster and kinship families, some require proof of caregiver status, usually in the form of a foster care license. This is noted whenever we are aware of it. The Alliance CaRES program does not support or endorse any of the listed items; they are compiled for your convenience. We make every effort to keep these up-to-date, if you know of a correction or an item not listed, please let us know by emailing email@example.com
Check out these places in your area that offer discounts or free opportunities or items to families in the care system:
Blue Zoo | Spokane’s First Interactive Aquarium: Enjoy an interactive aquarium experience at Blue Zoo located in Spokane. Children in out-of-home care are free. Their caregivers can access Blue Zoo for the discounted price of $16.95 and any other children who are not in out-of-home placement have a discounted admission of $10.95. These discounts apply to kinship and licensed foster families and to families from outside of the Spokane area who would like to visit.
Community Foster Closet: The Community Foster Closet is located inside Eastpoint Church at Sprague & Sullivan in Spokane Valley. They offer donated clothing and new socks, underwear, and shoes as well as diapers and wipes to foster families in Spokane and surrounding areas. Families can shop once per month and select up to 10 clothing items per child. This also includes families’ biological children in need! The closet also stocks some seasonal items that can be selected outside of the 10-item limit. Sizes range from preemie through men and women’s XXL+. Free shopping appointments are on Wednesdays between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. and one Saturday per month from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Families can schedule a thirty-minute appointment through https://calendly.com/fostercloset. If you have more than 3 children, feel free to schedule 2 appointments back-to-back so you don’t feel rushed.
Embrace Washington: Embrace Washington offers several programs for children experiencing foster care. Through their education program, Embrace Washington can provide financial and practical support to help children access tutoring. Their other programs can provide beds and bedding and will also sponsor a child’s special wishes. Available to all children residing in Eastern Washington (DCYF Regions 1 and 2). Caregiving families can self-refer but will need to indicate their child’s DCYF worker’s name for verification of their status as a foster child.
The Hope Chest: The Hope Chest is a clothing closet in Wenatchee. It is available to families and children in out-of-home placement in the Wenatchee and surrounding areas. To find shopping hours and updates, follow them on Facebook.
Mobius Children’s Museum: Mobius Children’s Museum is located in the heart of Downtown Spokane. They offer $2 off admission tickets for all kinship and foster families on Wednesdays. This discount is available for families living outside of the Spokane area, too.
Stephanie’s Closet: Stephanie’s Closet is a clothing boutique serving adolescent and young adult girls within the foster care system. It is in Colville and stocks casual and formal clothing and shoes. Foster and relative caregiver families can reach out directly to Stephanie’s closet via their Facebook page to set an appointment for free shopping
Spokane Angels: Spokane Angels serves children placed out of their homes residing in Spokane and Stevens Counties. Caregiving families are matched with a volunteer or group of volunteers who provide support to all members of the caregiving family via a monthly “Love Box” based on their needs and wishes. The Dare to Dream program offers personal mentorship to youth aged 11-22 in out-of-home placement and empowers them to develop skills, pursue passions, and achieve their goals. Mentors meet with youth at least twice a month to offer support and supportive guidance. Foster and relative families can self-refer via the Spokane Angels webpage to get connected.
Teen & Kid Closet: Teen & Kid Closet is a clothing store stocked with new and gently used clothing, shoes, seasonal clothing, and hygiene items for children birth-22. Teen & Kid Closet makes appointments for shopping and a referral is needed from a child’s social worker, advocate, counselor, or other professional. All goods are offered free of charge and a child can shop once every six months, as long as a new referral is submitted. Two locations are available, one in Downtown Spokane and a second in North Spokane. The closet is available to families who have foster and kinship placements anywhere in Eastern Washington and North Idaho, provided they can get to the store(s) in Spokane
Mentors and Specialists can help you by providing emotional support, sharing their experiences, and connecting you to regional and state resources. 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.
CaRES Trauma-Informed Caregiving Specialist
Camille has worked in foster care for over 16 years in many different capacities, including being a foster parent, a foster home licensor, providing in home counseling to foster kids, and teaching evidence based parenting classes to foster parents and post adoptive parents. Camille is passionate about supporting families with newborns, helping people understand how trauma impacts function, and supporting families who have children that are neurodivergent.
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. Christa has written several articles on supporting foster children in child care. Her family spends much of their time exploring the outdoors or cozily tucked inside reading.
CaRES Statewide Mentor
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.
CaRES Mentor Region 3, 4, & Culturally Conscious Caregiving Specialist, Caregivers and Children of Color
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.
Spanish Speaking Community Specialist
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
Spanish Speaking Community Specialist
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.
CaRES Mentor Region 5, 6, & LGBTQIA+ Community Specialist
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
Medically Complex Caregiving Specialist
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 Mentor Region 2 & Spanish Speaking Community Specialist
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.
Would you like to have one of our wonderful mentors reach out to you for individualized support? Send us an email or leave a voice mail with your contact information, a sentence or two about what general areas you need support in, and if you need language support or interpretation.
If you are sending a referral on behalf of a caregiver, please also let us know if they are expecting a call from us. Mentors will respond within 48 hours.
firstname.lastname@example.org or call 206-221-4913
If you are a caregiver going through an investigation, be sure to visit our page on support for allegations and investigations.
Never Miss an Event with CaRES: To add the Region 1 Calendar to your personal Google Calendar, click on the plus sign in the bottom right corner of the calendar. This will open your personal Google Calendar webpage and give you the option to add the CaRES event calendars for this region and the state.