Meet DCYF’s Caregiver Recruitment & Retention Team

This team will be your main contact for caregiver (licensed foster and kinship) recruitment and retention related questions and needs!

DCYF’s caregiver recruitment and retention team includes community-focused, targeted recruitment and a statewide retention and support program. Recruitment is done in-house by Targeted Recruitment Specialists and retention and supports sit with the Caregiver Retention, Education, and Support (CaRES) Program at the Alliance for Child Welfare Excellence.  

DCYF’s Targeted Recruitment Specialists will serve as the point person and recruitment expert for their designated region.

If you have recruitment and retention ideas, needs or thoughts, reach out to the team member in your region:

Region 1


Carissa Stone


Carissa Stone has worked in Spokane as a caseworker for 20 years.

Prior to becoming a Targeted Recruitment Specialist, Carissa worked for DCYF as a Foster Home Licensor and CFWS worker. She has a wealth of experience in childhood trauma, mental health, sexual assault and at-risk youth. She is a solution-focused, strengths-based caseworker who strives to connect with her community to improve the lives of children in our community. 

Carissa and her family served as foster parents for nine years. She shared that she is passionate about all things related to child welfare, but has a strong desire to work with families who provide care to children in out of home placement. She hopes to work collaboratively with her community to effectively enhance recruitment and positively impact children and their specific needs within our system.  

Carissa has a bachelor's degree in social work from Lewis Clark State College in Idaho and a master's degree in social work from Eastern Washington University through the CWTAP Program. Carissa is currently a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker Associate, as she is pursuing social work licensure in the state of Washington.

Region 2


Gabriela Mendez


Gabriela shares a passion for serving individuals and communities alike. She hopes to enhance recruitment across her region of foster care homes by better understanding the needs of current and prospective families, and in turn empowering and supporting those families so that together they can work to support children within the local foster care system and provide them with safe and loving homes.

Gabriela acquired a bachelor’s degree in social work from Heritage University and a master’s degree in social work with a concentration in community practice from the University of New England in Portland, Maine.

Prior to joining DCYF, Gabriela worked in the Public Health sector as a Health Educator and Regional Program Coordinator for a variety of programs. In this role, Gabriela managed regional and local level programs across North Central Washington such as the Tobacco Vapor Product Prevention and Control Program, the Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program, the local Farmers Market Match Program and the local Breastfeeding Coalition Initiative. She also engaged in community outreach to better understand the needs of her community and led efforts to develop local initiatives to better the health and wellness of community members. Gabriela has also worked in the social services sector for many years, most recently for Employment Security Department managing their Reemployment Services program where she assisted individuals receiving unemployment benefits in developing employment goals and seeking retraining opportunities applicable to the local workforce.

Region 3


Angelia Etter


Angelia Etter has worked as a caseworker with DCYF for the past 12 years. She is passionate about child welfare and creating better outcomes for the foster youth and families she serves. She is a firm believer that it takes a village to raise a child and that growing connections in our communities is key to keeping children safe and fostering opportunities for youth to thrive.

At DCYF, Angelia has worked as a Child Family Welfare caseworker, including as the Family Treatment Court caseworker and special recruitment caseworker for legally free youth in need of permanency. In that position, she enjoyed the opportunity to build community partnerships and work collaboratively to help stabilize youth in their placements, while engaging in targeted recruitment efforts to identify permanent adoptive homes for high needs youth.

Prior to DCYF, Angelia had the opportunity to work with adolescent boys in group care on Cypress Island. Angelia has a bachelor’s degree in sociology through Western Washington University and a master’s degree in social work through Eastern Washington’s CWTAP program.

Region 4


John Gonzales


John Gonzales is excited to work as the Targeted Recruitment Specialist as he looks forward to working toward finding hope in our foster care system and improving placement and permanency outcomes for all of Region 4’s foster children.

He believes in empowering communities and families to work toward caring for our state’s foster children. John wants to help children in foster care feel more comfortable by recruiting foster families that better reflect the children that we care for.

John Gonzales has worked as a caseworker for the past 12 years. Nine of those years were spent working with foster children in a Behavior Rehabilitation Services setting where he worked with some of the state’s most vulnerable youth. John also has experience working as a behavior interventionist in an elementary school setting and as a crisis intervention trainer training staff in verbal de-escalation techniques. John worked for two years at DCYF, where he worked as a CFWS worker out of the MLK office. John has a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in social work from Seattle University.

Region 5


Yolonda Marzest


Advocacy for children, youth, families and the entire fostering community has been Yolonda’s passion. Yolonda’s values and beliefs are that all children and youth have an opportunity and the right to a good, healthy and successful life! 

Yolonda has worked in Child Welfare for the past 30 plus years. Her work experience includes her most recent position as the supervisor for Region 5/6 Contracts team. She served as manager of the Region 3/4 (formerly Region 2) Foster Parenting Training Team with the Alliance of Child Welfare, Foster Parenting Trainer, CFWS Indian Child Welfare – Region 4 and as a CPS caseworker.  While at DCYF, Yolonda has also worked in the Mental Health field at Sound Mental Health as an MHP for 5 years, King County Crisis Clinic as a supervisor and trainer for eight years and most recently as a hospital emergency room crisis social worker.

Yolonda holds a BASW and MSW from the University of Washington. She has Certification in mediation from the Dispute Resolution Center of King County, is a Mental Health Specialist and currently working to complete her LISCWA.

Region 6


Chisana White


Chisana White has been interested in pursuing work in foster parent recruitment for many years, and is excited to get going as the Targeted Recruitment Specialist for Region 6! Chisana has a bachelor's degree in social work from Humboldt State University in California and a master's degree in social work, with a concentration in sustainable development and global practice and animal-assisted social work, from the University of Denver.

Prior to working as a Targeted Recruitment Specialist, Chisana has worked for DCYF as a foster home licensor/relative home study writer and CFWS worker. Chisana has worked with children, youth and families for over 14 years, in a variety of different capacities including positive youth development, youth academic and employment outreach, emergency group care for children, early learning, school social work, therapeutic behavioral services, family resource centers, and nonprofit development and management. Chisana has experience in group facilitation and individual case management.

Chisana is a certified school social worker in Washington State, and holds the credential of LICSWA, as she is pursuing social work licensure. Chisana is energetic and passionate about the safety and well-being of children in the care of the state, and equally as passionate about the reunification of children with their families of origin. She is excited to collaborate with Region 6 communities and stakeholders to develop new recruitment strategies to better meet the diverse needs of our children in care.

Retention and Support Program Manager


Holly Luna


Holly Luna, a 2001 graduate of the University of Washington and life-long Washingtonian, joined DCYF in 2013. Back in 2001, Holly launched her career by completing over 1700 hours of community service as an AmeriCorps member. She lived her dedication to service as she provided direct services to families and youth. Subsequently, Holly was a leader in child specific recruitment, training, facilitation, regional program management, and community building. Holly is particularly proud of the work she did to support LGBTQIA+ youth in care and launching an outreach program for marginalized youth.

At DCYF, Holly has focused on permanency planning and community and caregiver partnerships. Her experience has helped her to understand what children, youth, parents and caregivers need from our agency and how relationships strengthen our work and help transform lives. Holly is both unassuming and a fierce advocate. She uses strong communication skills, creative and innovating thinking, program and project management, and the voice of lived experts to guide her work. In her free time, you can find Holly spending time with her spouse, tween-twins, cats, and dog reading, crafting, and enjoying time together.

Holly Luna is the Retention and Support Program Manager who oversees the CaRES contract as well as other caregiver related support projects.

Caregiver Recruitment and Retention Program Supervisor


Codie Veitenheimer


Codie is beyond excited to oversee DCYF’s efforts on caregiver recruitment and retention. She is eager for the TRS team to begin building a new way to diligently recruit caregivers. She is committed to improving our practice and work in this arena, and believes strongly in having quality caregivers to meet the needs of children most in need. Codie’s values include integrity, empathy and communication. In 2008, Codie graduated from St. Martin’s University with her undergraduate degree in Community Services/Sociology and with a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Washington in 2018.

Codie began formally working for the department in 2007 when she was hired as a Home Support Specialist. She was interning at the Tumwater DCYF office in the Adolescent unit managing their transition staffings for youth aging out of foster care. Codie is an alumnus of foster care, so to say this program is near and dear to her heart is an understatement. Codie spent time working in Child Welfare Field Operations in various programs to include Family Voluntary Service, Child and Family Welfare Services and Child Protection Services. She then transitioned to the Licensing Division in 2013 to become an LD CPS Investigator, Regional Licensor and then Licensing Assessment Supervisor. Codie has served in her current role since April 2019.