Chapter events - United States

We'll be supporting Alia, a non-profit redesigning the child welfare system.

 Alia is a MN-based, national nonprofit with the mission of transforming the child welfare system. Currently, the child welfare system relies on punitive processes that disconnect kids from their families, including foster care with strangers. It has long been believed that foster care saves children from harmful parents; in very few cases that is true. What we are finding, though, is that separation from parents creates long-lasting, negative emotional effects that are often worse than any original (potential) harm. By supporting state and local child welfare directors, Alia is developing a proof of concept for primary prevention. We are working with leaders to redesign their systems to a prevention-based approach so that families do not become vulnerable to abusing and neglecting their children. We believe a system like that can be built and WILL work. (We call this concept an UnSystem.) 


Evolutionary and revolutionary work is how we approach change. Evolutionary work that Alia does includes keynotes, workshops, trainings, and long-term (18-24 months) workforce wellbeing groups and leadership coaching among public child welfare leadership teams to help them do their work better. This is fee-for-service work which is a significant source of income for us and prepares systems to make more radical changes toward prevention work. Alia’s revolutionary work is convening leaders to develop a new way – not continuous improvement, but redesign. We also commission work to be published in to the field that support doing work a healing, connecting way.

We have a broad and deep network of folks aligned with our mission and we want to nurture this network to accelerate sharing and practice toward the development of an UnSystem. We think that folks in our network can encourage and learn from each other. Practice insights, personal stories, notes of encouragement, potential trainers, etc – how can we be a hub for this sharing, but also provide ways for them to connect with each other directly?

For example, we are doing work in New York City working with a nonprofit to transition their foster group homes into “healing homes” for healing the trauma youth have experienced and finding them permanent families. Also, we convene a 5-jurisdiction group of leaders from 4 states, child welfare professional veterans, and system-involved parents and youth called the UnSystem Innovation Cohort, and our work with them is to put UnSystem practice ideas into place, real time, with real families. The Cohort doesn’t know about the NY group home work we’re doing, and NY doesn’t know what we’re up to in the Cohort. Also, we periodically have people like Lacey, a foster/adoptive mother who maintains close, loving contact with her child’s birth mother, understanding the critical need they both have to remain connected. How can I share her story to our network?

Alia staff are fatigued from frequent travel and would like to focus on solutions that are local and/or digital. How can we capture and share – or provide our network a platform for capturing and sharing their own successes and insights – in a way that helps us all advance in our thinking and practice toward a preventive, healing approach to the work of child welfare?