Regional Support

Region 6

Welcome! You’re in Region 6, which includes Clallam, Clark, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, Skamania, Thurston, and Wahkiakum counties. 

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.

Amanda Merriman

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

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, & 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.

Rachael TurnerRacheal Turner

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.

We know caregivers feel successful in their journey when they are connected to other caregivers. That is why Alliance CaRES is in the community to help you come together with other local foster and kinship families to share common challenges, feel heard, and solve problems.

Our Community Connectors are foster parents and other supporters who coordinate local in-person events to bring together caregivers in their communities. Say hi to your local Connectors Mindi and Brittany, at the next event you attend!


La Center Caregiver Walk and Talk: Being a foster and kinship caregiver might not be a walk in the park, but you can join our Community Connector Mindi for a walk and talk through Holley Park! Meet in front of the La Center Community Library (1411 NE Lockwood Creek Road, La Center) at 12:10 p.m. Thursday, June 1, and Thursday, June 15, at 12:10 p.m. RSVP to

Kalama/Longview Walk and Talk
Being a foster and kinship caregiver might not be a walk in the park, but you can join our Community Connector Mindi for a walk and talk through the mall! Come on out, June 21 at 5:15pm, to the Three Rivers Mall in front of JC Penney (351 Three Rivers Drive, Kelso). Please RSVP to

Don’t forget to check out in-person events near you hosted by our partner organizations, explore their website for all the details: Compelled to Care

Supportive Facilitated Discussion 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 supportive facilitated discussion groups, click here.

Training Credit of the Month

Fostering Across Race, Ethnicity, and Culture: Join us for a special session of this topic support group! The conversation will be specifically tailored to Black caregivers and caregivers of Black children and youth.
Welcoming a child into your home, even temporarily, means accepting and affirming their whole selves. When a child has a different racial, ethnic, or cultural background than yours, it can be challenging to know the best ways to properly care for their unique physical, spiritual, and cultural needs. 
During this facilitated discussion, caregivers will share their racial, ethnic, or cultural perspective and develop strategies for meeting the needs of a child who has a different background or perspective. The discussion will also include some tips and tricks for finding resources, maintaining community connections, and addressing biases in the community. Register here!

Special Events

We offer a wide, and ever-changing range of Special Events to highlight important  topics, times, and communities. These are a special chance to hear from an expert, have fun, learn together, or celebrate.

Queer Caregiver Connection

As an LGBTQIA+ caregiver have you felt that your Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) impacts your fostering journey?
Join Trey CaRES LGBTQIA+ Community Specialist and fellow kinship and foster caregivers who identify as LGBTQIA+. Come together for informal connection to create community, discuss ideas for future events and get togethers. We’ll also provide opportunities for folks to connect based on Regions. 6:30-8 p.m. Tuesday, June 13.
Join us here on Zoom.

Wellness Resource Wednesday

Special session of Wellness Resource Wednesday, continue building your awareness of wellness resources that can support you and the children in your care.
This session will start with a 45-minute presentation by Dr. Balentine, focusing on mindful self-compassion for caregivers and the child in their care. Practical examples of how to incorporate at home will be shared along the way. Self-compassion promotes mental health, and research shows that teaching these skills to children when they are young can have lasting, positive effects. Presentation will be followed by a question-and-answer session.

6:30-8 p.m. on Wednesday June 21, 2023. Join us here on Zoom. 

Dr. Balentine works with children, teens, and adults who are willing to step into nature-based and mindfulness work, especially to treat issues including anxiety, depression, trauma, loss, relationship challenges, and dysregulation. She integrates a number of evidence-based interventions into therapy, including EMDR, CBT, play therapy, ACT, DBT, and IFS. 
She is a mindfulness teacher and has trained at UCSD Center for Mindfulness, where she also teaches a mindful self-compassion program for children she co-developed with fellow teacher Lorraine Hobbs. They are also the co-authors of the Self-Compassion Workbook for Kids published in 2022. 

Drop-in Discussions

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.

Lunch with Luanne: Personal support for those getting a kinship or general foster license. Lunch with Luanne is the place to come to get your licensing questions answered.
Every Tuesday 12:00 to 1:00 pm Click here to join the Zoom session.

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

Check out these places in your area that offer discounts or free opportunities or items to families in the care system from CaRES Free and Discounted Resources for Foster and Kinship Caregivers (Click Here to Download the Full Guide):

Bridge the Gap: Bridge the Gap provides funds to cover activities, summer camps, etc. for kids in Clark, Cowlitz and Skamania Counties.
Cloth+Foster: Meeting the needs of families and children experiencing foster care through tangible goods, in SW Washington and surrounding areas.
Capital Kids Connection: Christmas gifts, School supplies, $100 wishes for youth to go towards an item or experience of their choice. For children in Thurston, Mason and Lewis Counties.
Compelled to Care: Provides graduation gifts, Care Boxes, and school supplies for kids entering the foster care system. Support dinners in Thurston and Grays Harbor counties. 
Dry Tikes and Wet Wipes: Supplements the diaper needs of low-income families. Serving the Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater, and surrounding area.
Foster Supports of Jefferson County: Services include clothing closet, Kicks for Kids, and Academic Success for Kids Program.
Hands On Children’s Museum: Offers a $25 membership to youth with a PEBT card. *Also available to families outside the region.
Olympic Angels: The Love Box program provides fostering families with community and holistic support. The Dare to Dream program provides one-on-one mentorship to youth in care.
Pizza Klatch: Offers support group for LGBTQ+ youth and their allies; held in classrooms during lunchtime at participating schools in the following districts: North Thurston, Tumwater, Olympia, Rainier, Tenino, Rochester, and Yelm Community Schools.
South Sound Foster/Adoptive Clothing Closet: Free clothing for ages 0-12, shoes, gear, strollers, toys, etc.
The Wishing Well Foundation: Provides clothing, supplies, and experiences to children currently placed in the foster care system in Thurston County.
Youth to Teen Essentials: Clothing closet in Shelton.

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
Check out the full guide with even more Free and Discounted Resources for Foster and Kinship Caregivers:
Boys & Girls Club: Members ages 6 to18 years-old get a no-cost Boys & Girls Club basic membership, covered by Coordinated Care.
DCYF Who to Contact Resources for Foster Parents and Kinship Caregivers: Knowing who to contact for different needs can be really hard for foster parents and kinship caregiver in a large child welfare system. This guide lets caregivers know who to contact about different topics. 
DSHS Reduced Cost Service Guide: The Reduced Cost Services Guide highlights a variety of products and services available in or near Washington state that are offered at reduced cost for people meeting certain income levels. 
Fosterful: Through trauma-informed care practices, provide nurturing environments and basic necessities to kids entering foster care. Located across the state and expanding.
Foster Parents Association of Washington State (FPAWS): Support and advocacy organization representing adoptive/foster/kinship and birth parent voices at the Regional, State, and National levels. They offer a multitude of supportive services, trainings, and opportunities.
IFoster: A free, members-only community supporting children in or at-risk of entry into child welfare, to access the resources and opportunities they need to become successful, independent adults.
Imagination Library of Washington: Enroll your child online. In 6-8 weeks, your child will receive their first book in the mail, ‘The Little Engine That Could’. Books arrive in the mail monthly until your child’s 5th birthday.
Treehouse: Offers many programs to youth across the state including educational support, holiday gifts, driver’s assistance, a clothing closet and just in time funding program.


CaRES Statewide Mentors & Specialist

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.

Camille Hereth

CaRES Trauma-Informed Caregiving Specialist

Check back shortly for updated information on our newest Caregiving Specialist. 

Christina Urtasun

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.

Deshanna Brown

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.

Emmanuel Camarillo

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.

Matthew Sam-Thornhill

CaRES Culturally Conscious Caregiving Specialist, Indian Children

Check back shortly for updated information on our newest Culturally Conscious Caregiving Specialist. 

Nathan LaChine
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

CaRES Mentor Region 5 & 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.

Sylvia Cardenas

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.

Trey Rabun

CaRES LGBTQIA+ Community Specialist

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. 

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. 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 6 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.