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True transformation in child welfare comes when we redefine our beliefs about what children need.

Having food to eat and a bed to sleep in is important, but it’s not enough. What matters most in life is not what we have, but rather who we share it with. Kids need stable, lifelong connections with adults they trust. We must change our measures of success to not only protect children’s physical safety, but to also safeguard their hearts.

Our current system is designed to keep youth from physical harm, and separation often happens. We now know that children cannot thrive without also healing the grief and loss that come after separation from a caregiver, and that the wellbeing of caregivers has direct impact on this healing process. After decades of changing lives child by child, Alia sets its sights on bringing those innovations to a larger scale: to revolutionize the child welfare system.

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We are convening a cohort of changemakers across the country to use UnSystem Guiding Principles as a vision for child welfare system transformation.

Our goal is for every child to remain in the uninterrupted care of an already-trusted adult; where there is never a disruption to his or her sense of connection and belonging. We aim to re-design systems to utilize family-driven responses to struggling parents, preserving familial bonds in any way possible, to the extent safely possible.

An UnSystem is an idea that was born in May 2017 at the 10 of 10 for Kids national convening where we brought together 100+ innovators and thought leaders from inside and outside the field to reimagine child welfare. We hoped to identify one or two prototypes of a radically different child welfare system and a short list of guiding principles we could all agree to uphold as our north star.

Traditional Child Welfare System

TheconstructedChild Welfare System is anartificialfamily system
Blame Punishment Shame

The constructed system dismantles and adds more pressure on families in times of challenge rather than supporting the family back top balance & wellbeing.


TheoriginalChild Welfare System is thenaturalfamily system
  • Protects relational
    connections as sacred
  • Commits to intergenerational
  • Nurtures the capacity for joy
  • Does what LOVE would do
  • Dares to share power
  • Trusts the wisdom of children &
    families to design their own futures
  • Pursues racial equality and
    radical inclusion

What happened?

Ten of Ten For Kids Ten of Ten for kids

We were brave and vulnerable. It was hopeful, optimistic, and messy too. We came out the other side together as a community of innovators committed to supporting parents and caregivers and improving the lives of children who cannot live safely at home.

Ten of Ten for Kids: The Experience

Think of Us, a non-profit dedicated to leveraging technology to improve the lives of foster youth aging out of the system, captured the Ten of Ten experience.


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