About Us

CHERISH™ (CHildren Encouraged by Relationships in Secure Homes) is a program that offers a variety of services to promote the social/emotional well-being of children involved in the child welfare system who are living in out-of-home placements (or “dependency”).

                                                                        Theory of Change

When interventions for each child and caregiver are individualized and include: Then:
  • listening to concerns
  • exploring possible solutions
  • in-the-moment play and other regulating activities

as well as systems support and advocacy…

  • attachment security increases, and
  • unnecessary placement disruptions decrease -or- healthy, thoughtful transitions can be achieved

CHERISH focuses on relationships. By establishing relationships with key people involved in a child’s life, CHERISH therapists aim to minimize trauma, stabilize placements, and facilitate healthy transitions when necessary for children in the child welfare system. We advocate for best practice around caregiver/parent connections, visitation, effective placement transitions, and ongoing support. By being in communication with many of the important people in a child’s life, we help lessen the stress that children and families can experience within systems. While CHERISH staff do not advocate for a particular permanent plan, we do support reunification whenever possible and encourage relationships between caregivers and parents.

CHERISH provides specialized Infant Mental Health services with skilled providers to address the unique social and emotional health needs of children living in out-of-home placements and their families. Visits with a CHERISH provider occur in a child’s natural environment (home or community setting) whenever possible.

  • CHERISH 0-3 is an Early Intervention program for children ages 0-3 who are living in out-of-home placements. A CHERISH provider meets with a child and their caregiver &/or parent from 1-4 times/month, depending on need, until a child turns 3 years old. Interventions for each child and family are individualized, but a CHERISH therapist’s approach is always dyadic so a parent or caregiver is always present during sessions.
  • CHERISH 3-5 is a program using an intervention based on Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP), a relationship-based trauma-informed treatment model, for children ages 3-5 living in out-of-home placements in King County.  CPP is designed to support and strengthen the caregiver-child relationship as a vehicle for improving the mental health of the child. It addresses relationship struggles and promotes therapeutic parenting strategies. It is intended to minimize behavioral challenges as well as build capacity to regulate emotions. CPP is designed to take place weekly, for hour-long sessions, over a period of 9-12 months.

Our History

CHERISH was started by a clinical social worker at Kindering in the summer of 2004 to provide a safety net of early intervention services to foster children who weren’t qualifying as delayed under IDEA, Part C. Because of adverse childhood experiences, we know that all foster children could benefit from support in the area of social and emotional development. Starting in 2010, Kindering realized that exploring other ways of qualifying foster children for services (other standardized tests; use of informed clinical opinion) opened up the possibility of expanding the CHERISH program to other Early Intervention agencies. The funding was secured in 2012 to begin CHERISH replication and expansion. CHERISH Replication training is supported through both public and private grants, including NW Children’s Foundation. In 2018, CHERISH received additional funding through a Best Starts for Kids grant to expand services for meeting the needs of children in foster and kinship care ages 3-5 throughout King County.


“Confronted daily with the unmet emotional needs of our littlest foster children – attachment concerns, traumatic experiences, regulation problems – CHERISH was created as a safety net to catch those who fell through the traditional EI system.”
Kristie Baber, MSW, LICSW