Support Groups

Alliance CaRES currently offers three types of support groups for caregivers at varying stages across their journey, and we’re expanding all the time!

Community Groups

Community Mentorship Groups, a way for local foster and kinship caregivers to build networks, share common challenges, feel heard, solve problems, and learn from one another.

Yakima Community Group. Will be taking the summer off; they plan to return to in person in September.
Summer gatherings will be announced in the future.

Prosser Community Group. Will be taking the summer off; they plan to return to in person in September.
In the meantime, you are invited to summer park playdate on for June 21st from 6-8pm (usual meeting day and time) at Prosser City Park 1301 Sommers St, Prosser. 
More summer gatherings will be announced in the future.

If you are interested in hosting a group in your area, please reach out to the CaRES team:
   Eastern WA (Regions 1&2) Angela Stiner at (425) 954-0249 or astiner@uw.edu.  
   Western WA (Regions 3,4,5,&6) Christa Murray at (253) 678-1956 or christa6@uw.edu.


Join the CaRES program at 6 p.m. June 1 to kick off PRIDE Month!

Hear form CaRES mentors, share your stories of a moment of trust or belonging you achieved with an LGBTQIA+ youth in your care, something you did to make your home more welcoming for LGBTQIA+ youth, or something you changed to make your community more accepting. Bring your questions and resources.

Advance registration is required for this event; click here to register. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email from Zoom containing links and other information.

Reading together is more than just a way to improve children’s literacy skills and build their imaginations; it’s a bridge to work through difficult emotions and situations for adults and children alike.

Join us at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 8, to hear Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, read to you by our very own CaRES Mentor Racheal Turner.
A young girl and her box of magical yarn transform a community. From a seemingly endless box of Extra Yarn Annabelle knits clothing for everyone around her, tempering the ill-tempered, and creating beautifully patterned warmth for people, animals, and objects, alike.

This book is written for children ages 3-7 but all are welcome to join. We will have activities and questions for children and their adults to engage with. Please bring something to write with and something to write on.
One family will be selected to be mailed the book after the event.

Advance registration is required for this event; click here to register.
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email from Zoom containing links and other information.

Because there will be foster children participating, this event cannot be recorded. If you are unable to attend, please check back for the next session of CaRES Storytime.

Contact Christa Murray at christa6@uw.edu with any questions. We hope to see you there!

Drop-in Discussions

Dive into health topics with local experts to best support children in care
We’re excited to announce an amazing new group focused on building your awareness of wellness resources that can support you and the children in your care.

Wellness Resource Wednesdays is a free drop-in group meeting 6:30-8 p.m. on the third Wednesday of the month. There’s no need to register, just join us for whichever meetings fit your schedule! 

In partnership with UW Harborview and Coordinated Care, these sessions will offer opportunities to learn directly from expert doctors and connect with caregivers sharing your experiences. The meetings will start with a 45-minute presentation by Harborview doctors and conclude with 45 minutes of Q&A around services of CaRES, Coordinated Care and Harborview. The medical topics were selected based on common areas foster parents would like more support around, and training credit will be available.

On alternating months, sessions will be a chance to simply share perspectives and resources around navigating health systems as a caregiver.
We’ll meet in the same Zoom room every month. Zoom meeting ID: 979 4221 7041; https://washington.zoom.us/j/97942217041

Mark your calendars to make sure you take advantage of these very special events!

6:30-8 p.m. on the third Wednesday of the month:
Feb. 16:ADHD (view the recording)
April 20:Asthma (view the recording)
June 15: Nutrition, Sugar, and Diabetes
     Want a reminder? Download the calendar invite.
July 20: Open discussion
Aug. 17: FASD
      Want a reminder? Download the calendar invite.
Sept. 21: Open discussion
Oct. 19: NG and G tubes
      Want a reminder? Download the calendar invite.
Nov. 16: Open discussion
Dec. 21: Sleep challenges
      Want a reminder? Download the calendar invite.


Lunch with Luanne: Come have lunch with Luanne (CaRES’ Licensing Coordinator) and get your questions answered around the licensing process, the home inspection, and how to have fun fostering. For prospective foster parents and kinship caregivers. No registration required. 
Tuesdays from 12:00 – 1:00 pm Click here to join the Zoom session

Connection with Amara CaRES: Virtual drop-in discussion group for kinship caregivers! A time to answer questions about kinship care, get kinship licensing support, or connect with other kinship providers. No registration required. 
Wednesdays from 3:00 – 4:00 pm Click here to join the Zoom session.  

Fostering as a Single Parent: Single foster parents manage circumstances and challenges that other groups don’t face, so we’re excited to host a new drop-in group just for you! No registration required. 
The third Thursday of each month 8:00 – 9:00 pm Click here to join the Zoom session.

Fostering Fridays: Join a CaRES team member and your fellow caregivers for an informal discussion of foster care-related topics. There will be weekly themes and exercises, but no formal content or training hours. No registration required. 
Fridays 12:00 – 1:00 pm Click here to join the Zoom session.   

Supportive Facilitated Discussions

These are the support groups we are currently scheduling. Please check back frequently since we’re adding new sessions and topics all the time! If you have ideas or questions, please email Lead Mentor Coordinator Shana Burres.

SELF-CARE

Grief and Loss in Your Fostering Journey: As a caregiver for a child in the foster care system, grief and loss are an inherent part of your journey. You may be grieving a placement that isn’t going as expected or hoped. Even as you celebrate a child’s return home or to an adoptive placement, your family may be grieving the loss of a child or experiencing a sense of loss due to a disrupted placement. 
During this supportive facilitated discussion, we will talk about the realities of grief and loss as they relate to the fostering experience. We will share strategies for recognizing grief in yourself, partner, or your children. And we will look at ways to acknowledge the complexities of loss, navigate grief, and share healthy strategies for walking through the grieving process.  Register here!

Who Is Taking Care of the Caregiver?: The very best thing you can do for those who depend on you is to take care of yourself. This group will engage in conversations around how to make sure you see how valuable your contribution is, as well as also how demanding it can be. You can talk about challenges you’re facing when thinking about self-care, because real life does sometimes make it hard to prioritize. You’ll work toward developing an action plan that takes into account your unique circumstances and proactively addresses things that might derail your self-supporting activities. Register here!

Boundaries As Self-Care: As a caregiver, the very best thing you can do for those who depend on you is to take care of yourself. This group is an extension of the supportive facilitated discussion group “Who Is Taking Care of the Caregiver?”
In this group, you will engage in conversations around how to make sure you see how setting and keeping healthy boundaries allows you to continue doing the valuable work you do while protecting your important relationships. You can talk about challenges you’re facing when thinking about boundaries, because real life sometimes makes it hard to say no or hold to your priorities.
You’ll work toward developing an action plan that takes into account your unique circumstances and proactively addresses things that might make it hard to maintain your identified healthy boundaries. Register here!

LGBTQIA+

In partnership with Amara, CaRES now offers two new LGBTQIA+ support groups.

Supporting LGBTQIA+ Youth in Foster Care: Understanding your child’s identity is critical to providing them the care and support they need to navigate the development years. Children with an LGBTQIA+ identity may need additional support as they navigate extra social and cultural factors.  In this supportive facilitated discussion group, you will have an opportunity to talk through LGBTQIA+ terminology and identify concrete tools you can use to support a child’s LGBTQIA+ identity.
During the two facilitated discussion sessions, you can ask questions about support resources, share ways you have supported a child in your care, and hear how other caregivers have navigated situations related to a child’s LGBTQIA+ identity. Register here!

Navigating Fostering as a LGBTQIA+ Caregiver: As an LGBTQIA+ caregiver have you felt that your Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) impacts your fostering journey?
In this supportive facilitated discussion group, you will get a chance to talk with other LGBTQIA+ kinship and foster caregivers about their experiences and share your own.  As a group, you will talk about useful tools and techniques for navigating common issues faced by LGBTIA+ caregivers and use these to develop strategies specifically for your family.
This single session facilitated discussion is specifically for kinship and foster caregivers who identify as LGBTQIA+ caring for children with any SOGIE. Register Here!

BOOK CLUBS

TBRI: The Connected Child: The CaRES team will be leading a group through reading and discussion of “The Connected Child,” by Karyn Purvis.
“The Connected Child” lays out the foundational principles for Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI), a therapeutic model that trains caregivers to provide effective support and treatment for at-risk children.
Discussion at the five weekly book club meetings will dive into what TBRI is, and discussion will include a look at new strategies for building connection and managing behaviors.
So you can fully participate in the class, please have access to a copy of the book. You can find “The Connected Child” on Amazon, at your local library or at local retailers. Register here!

TBRI The Connected Parent: Join us for another TBRI book club! “The Connected Parent,” by Karyn Purvis and Lisa Qualls is the companion book to the widely popular, “The Connected Child.” 
Discussions during the four weekly book club meetings will review TBRI principals and dive into practical parenting applications and real life strategies for understanding attachment, teaching respect, understanding sensory needs, adapting strategies for teens, and taking care of yourself. 
So you can fully participate in the class, please have access to a copy of the book. You can find “The Connected Parent” on Amazon, at your local library or at local retailers. 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!

FASD Trying Differently Rather Than Harder: The CaRES team leads you through a reading and discussion of “Trying Differently Rather Than Harder: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders” by Diane Malbin. This book is a readable, narrative discussion of the neurobehavioral approach to working with children and youth with FASD. The book focuses on understanding behaviors differently through case studies and examples of how FASD impacts everyday life.
During four sessions, you will be discussing themes including: adaptions, common challenges, cognitive changes and strategies to address them, working with memory disruptions, and talking about FASD in a supportive informative manner. Register here!

PARENTING

Littlest Lives and Their Big Needs – Parenting 0 to 2: As a parent of an infant or toddler, the earliest development years are among the most critical to a child’s long-term development. Children under 2 who are in foster care often require supports and approaches that are not so typical for their peers. You will talk through their needs, develop strategies to address those needs, and identify the resources available to help you support the littlest lives in care. You will also be able to build community with other caregivers of kids under 2 to share resources, experiences and problem-solving strategies. Register here!

Caring for Drug Impacted Infants and Children: This facilitated discussion group is open to all caregivers of infants and children but was designed to follow the Alliance courses, “As They Grow: The Drug Impacted Infant and Toddler/Child” During this facilitated discussion, you will consider the signs of withdrawals in infants; what works best in caring for an impacted infant including therapeutic handling techniques and resources. You will also discuss issues, behaviors, interventions, effective parenting techniques, and resources for the children in your care.  Register here!

Parenting Teens: This facilitated discussion group is a continuation of the seven-part “Parenting Teens” webinar. This group will continue to explore strategies for parenting teens with a history of trauma, developing healthy and supportive relationships with your teen, nurturing their identity, and understanding their challenging behaviors. You’ll work with other parents of teens to develop an action plan that takes into account your and your teen’s unique circumstances and proactively addresses the challenges you face. Register here!

Parenting in the Digital Age: Ready access to smart phones, tablets, and computers has created a whole new world of challenges for parents of pre-teens and teens. Youth do not need to leave their bedrooms to be introduced to risky situations. And it is challenging for caregivers to know how to guide children to appropriate use while keeping them safe.
During this single session supportive facilitated group, you will talk with fellow caregivers about the challenges of parenting in the digital age. You will learn some warning signs when a child’s internet usage has become unsafe and potentially dangerous. You will discuss basic internet programs, apps, geo tracking data, dangers in sharing pictures, videos, and personal information online.  And you will have the opportunity to practice having a conversation about internet safety with your pre-teen or teen.  Register here! 

Practical Parenting Skills for Caregivers: It isn’t always easy to meet the complex needs of a child while navigating a new parental role. Foster parenting calls for a trauma-informed, mindful, and positive response to a wide variety of behaviors. You will work with fellow caregivers to develop practical parenting strategies that are trauma-informed, appropriate for the child, and suited to your home. Register here!

Using Storytime for Connection and Support: Reading with your children can do much more than support their academic growth! During this supportive facilitated discussion caregivers will discuss strategies they can use before, during, and after reading to build social-emotional learning with the children in their care. Caregivers will also collaborate to identify techniques they can use to increase attachment with their child through reading and story time. Whether it is picture books, a chapter book or a series, reading with the children in your home can lead to deeper attachment and improved social-emotional skills!
Participants will also receive a pdf resource with book lists for various age ranges and topics. Register here!  

Fostering While Parenting, Supporting Our Biological and Adopted Children: When you have children who live at home with you, becoming a foster parent also means becoming a foster family. Growing up with foster siblings comes with unique challenges but there are strategies you can use to help your bio and adopted kids adapt and thrive! 
During both sessions of this supportive facilitated discussion, you will collaborate with fellow caregivers to identify some of the unique challenges bio and adopted kids face, consider the impact fostering may have on your children, and share strategies you can use to nurture strength and resilience as a family unit. Register here!  

TEAMING

Fostering as Part of a Team: As a caregiver for a child in the foster care system, you are part of a parenting team. The courts, social worker, CASA, GAL, medical team, therapists and the child’s biological family all have a role to play. Knowing what your role is and how to partner with the other member of the child’s team improves the child’s care, your experience as a foster parent, and the long-term outcomes of the placement.
During the four sessions, we will talk about who the members of the child’s foster care team are and their roles, and identify ways to promote positive relationships with them. This will include a look at how to support family time and partnership with the biological/first family,  understanding the role of DCYF staff, and how to positively partner with them for placement success. You will also identify the opportunities and limitations of the caregiver role in decision-making and planning. Register here!

WHILE YOU WAIT

While You Wait 1, Preparing for Change: Are you thinking about how life will change once you welcome new children into your home? You may have questions about how your relationship with family and friend might change. Maybe you are wondering about how you are going to introduce this child to your community without breaking confidentiality or what it’s going to be like opening your home not only to children needing care, but everyone on their care team. Join fellow caregivers to share in a discussion of these and other changes you might experience when becoming a caregiver. Register here!

While You Wait 2, Making Placement Decisions: Fostering involves the whole family including any child already in your home, whether they are your biological child, an adopted child, or a foster child. Asking the right questions at the time of placement and establishing limits as a care provider and as a family can help make your home a safe and welcoming place for the potential placement. Join fellow caregivers to share with them in developing your list of placement questions and limits. Register here!

While You Wait 3, Transitioning a Child Into Your Home: Transitioning a child into your home elicits many emotions for the caregiving family and the foster child entering your home for the first time. How are you going to make a child feel safe, welcome, and sure that their needs will be met? How are you going to handle bath time, bedtime, communications, food, and all the other factors that go into those first few nights in the home? Join fellow caregivers who are also preparing their homes to share in a discussion of challenges and opportunities and develop a plan of action. Register here!

While You Wait 4, Meeting Children’s Cultural Needs: A child standing on your front porch has many emotions about what awaits them on the other side of that door. What is their first impression? What can we do to set up a diverse and representative environment in our home? What are some ways we can increase our understanding or respect for different cultural beliefs and backgrounds? The mandate when placing children in care has always been to be culturally sensitive to the child’s needs. But it is more than a mandate, it is an important part of creating a safe and welcoming environment. Join fellow caregivers in discussing how to have a culturally sensitive home and meet the individual cultural needs of children in care. Register here!

CONSIDERING ADOPTION
Foster-to-Adopt Journey: As a prospective adoptive foster parent, your journey from placement to adoptions is different from other adoption experiences. The goal of concurrent planning leads to unique challenges and beautiful opportunities. During the three sessions, you will consider some of the challenges of the foster-to-adopt process and develop strategies to help you fulfil your role in the adoption triad. Register here!

 

Registration

You can register for any of our topic-based support groups through the Alliance catalog.  You’ll see all our offerings listed under Supportive Facilitated Discussion Groups.  These count for training credit. 

Certificates of Completion​

For groups that offer training credit, you may retrieve your certificate by logging into your profile on the Alliance website and clicking on “instructor led” courses. This will bring up a list of classes you have taken with the option to print a pdf copy of your certificate to the right of the course name. Click here for more information about retrieving completion certificates.