About Us

About Us 2018-02-10T00:37:34+00:00

What is CHERISH?

CHERISH™ is an Early Intervention infant mental health home-visiting program for foster children ages 0-3 in King County. A CHERISH therapist meets with a foster child and his/her out-of-home placement caregiver (typically a foster parent or relative caregiver) from 1-4 times/month, depending on need, until a child turns 3 years old. Interventions for each child-caregiver are individualized and often look like a mix of: listening to parent concerns, exploring possible solutions, and in-the-moment play and other regulating activities.

The goal of CHERISH is always to support the creation of attachment security and decrease the number of unnecessary placement disruptions in a foster child’s life. CHERISH is about relationships on all fronts, and we work to highlight child well-being as we advocate for best practice around foster parent/birth parent connections, birth parent visitation, effective placement transitions, and ongoing caregiver support. A CHERISH therapist’s approach is always dyadic, so a caregiver is always present in sessions.

Meet the Kindering CHERISH Team

Julie Fisher
Julie FisherInfant Mental Health Clinical Supervisor and CHERISH Program Manager

Julie is originally from IN, but has lived in the Seattle area for most of her adult life. She got her start in Seattle doing crisis intervention work and then outreach and engagement in homeless shelters. After receiving her MSW from the University of Washington in 2001, Julie has focused her work on at-risk children and their families. She worked with foster children in Snohomish and Whatcom Counties as a Connections Specialist on a project that assessed child well-being when birth and foster parent relationships are supported and encouraged. After studying under attachment therapist Deborah Gray and others, Julie earned a certificate in Foster & Adoption Therapy from Cascadia Training. Since 2006, she has been part of the CHERSH™ program and now serves as its lead trainer in the role of Infant Mental Health Clinical Supervisor. Julie oversees all things CHERISH, and with the help of Kindering’s amazing team of clinical social workers, is blazing new trails in the field of IMH in Early Intervention settings. Since 2013, Julie has been humbled and awed by all that she’s learned from other therapists (OTs, SLPs, and Educators) who have trained with her to provide CHERISH services at their agencies. Julie is always eager to talk with anyone who feels passionate about improving the lives of foster children and impacting systems and policies. In her spare time, Julie can be found laughing and playing with her family and friends. She’s especially engaged when playing scrabble or euchre (a Midwest card game), eating tasty food, or exploring something or somewhere new.

Jill Reece
Jill ReeceCHERISH Clinical Social Worker and Replication Trainer

Jill is a New Yorker and went to Grad School at Boston University, where she obtained her MSW with a clinical focus on working with families and children. Her favorite internship at school was doing play therapy with children ages 3 – 5 who were enrolled in Head Start preschool programs. Post-graduation in 2004, Jill’s first job was in Boston as a behavioral therapist, doing home visits for a non-profit whose mission was to do a mixture of Floortime and ABA with children ages 0 – 3 with a diagnosis on the Autism Spectrum. Once moved to Seattle, Jill started at Kindering first as an Educator in the Autism classroom, then became a Home Visitor, then FRC, and then finally to CHERISH as a Clinical Social Worker in the Fall of 2011. Jill fell in the love with the foster care population and has enjoyed being able to both continue clinical work but also have the opportunity to mentor. In her spare time, Jill enjoys traveling, working on her fixer-upper with her husband, going to every Sounders FC home game, being an Auntie, anything to do with the water, and adopting/rescuing dogs and cats that steal her heart.

Mara Calhoun
Mara CalhounCHERISH Clinical Social Worker and Program Development Officer

Mara has lived most of her life in the Northwest and is deeply committed to supporting the lives of young children and their families in the community. She began her early intervention career at Kindering as a paraeducator and FRC, later returning as a CHERISH Clinical Social Worker after completing her MSW at the University of Washington. Since receiving her MSW in 2006 she has worked in educational, medical, mental health and child welfare settings providing her a cross-systems perspective helpful in her CHERISH role of program development and systems advocacy. She has been Clinical Faculty at the CHDD, holds graduate certificates from the University of Washington in Infant Mental Health and LEND (Leadership and Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities) and is an Equity Facilitator for King County. In her spare time, she enjoys coaching soccer, volunteering in the neighborhood, spending time with family and friends, and raising two great kids.

Tessa MartinezCHERISH Clinical Social Worker

Tessa was born and raised in the Bellingham, WA area and first discovered her passion for serving children and families through working as an early childhood educator.  While completing the Western Washington University Human Services BA program and the University of Washington MSW program, Tessa had internships in child welfare, public education, and healthcare settings.  Prior to joining the CHERISH team, Tessa was working as a hospital social worker assisting patients and their caregivers in navigating healthcare systems and accessing services.  As a CHERISH Clinical Social Worker, she greatly appreciates the opportunity to connect with families involved in the foster care system to help support their children’s social and emotional well-being.

Jennifer Gears
Jennifer GearsCHERISH Program Coordinator

Jennifer received her MSW from the University of Hawai`i after studying Social Work for her Bachelor’s degree at the University of Washington in Seattle, where she was born and raised. Throughout school, volunteering, and work experience, Jennifer values the countless opportunities to learn from a variety of organizations that offer services to families, supporting the unique challenges and valuing the incredible strength of children and their caregivers. Jennifer has found passion for working with families who care for children with special needs, supporting caregivers as they nurture the next generation. She is also passionately committed to confronting inequities in treatment and opportunities for systemically oppressed communities in order to create a more inclusive representation of the strengths and challenges of families and individuals that make up our community. Now with CHERISH at Kindering, Jennifer enjoys connecting with families in the foster care system and providers that work with families to develop a network of support and create opportunities for learning and growth. While practicing mindfulness, she often incorporates humor and music into all aspects of life.

Erin Graham
Erin GrahamCHERISH Family Resources Coordinator


(come back soon to learn more about me)

Astoria Anderson
Astoria AndersonCHERISH Family Resources Coordinator


(come back soon to learn more about me)